John / Nonfiction

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes

Music fans usually associate specific music scenes with a particular sound and a particular place. Two scenes that come to mind are the sixties British invasion and the grunge music that came out of the Seattle area in the early nineties.  Both of these scenes had bands that sounded the same or at least similar. In Will Hermes’ Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever the focus is much more on the location than a particular sound. Hermes covers disco, salsa, punk rock, free jazz, modern music, and plenty more genres and subgenres.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire covers the music scene in the New York City area from 1973-1977. Hermes chronicles each year, focusing on dates when major musical events, or sometimes events that seemed not so major, took place. For instance, he describes the Talking Heads first show in 1975 and then backtracks to cover how the original three members met. Later on Hermes recounts the addition of fourth member Jerry Harrison and the release of Talking Heads: 77, their debut album.

The book’s constant jumping about from date to date, artist to artist, and genre to genre takes a little getting used to, but I found it gave a fresh perspective to a period in music that often gets boiled down to Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Read Love Goes to Buildings on Fire to find out about some of your favorite artists and you’re likely to discover some new favorites as well.

John

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