Like David Browne, I was a fan of early Simon & Garfunkel. Unlike him, no one teased me in school that it was laughably “old music” in 1970. I also didn’t know that 1970 was such a pivotal year in music until I read Browne’s totally entertaining new book, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970.
As he looks back at the music he grew up with, he creates a lively story of The Beatles breaking up, Taylor getting famous, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young coming together and flying apart in all sorts of configurations. There are drugs, love affairs and infighting behind the music, a story Browne smartly sets against the backdrop of a culture emerging from the turbulent 60’s. I can’t say I’m a big music person, but I was hooked from the minute I opened it.
And I can’t say there weren’t any personal touchstones. Years ago I went to Taylor’s VH-1 Storytellers concert with a friend, which is when we realized that every woman who listened to his music at an impressionable age has a Taylor song that still makes her cry. The songs and the men they bring back are different – hers was Fire and Rain, mine was Carolina in My Mind – but it seems that early Taylor songs can still trigger adolescent waterworks.
Here’s Browne talking about the book on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. I still don’t know what to make of the information that Peggy Noonan loves both Reagan and Neil Young.