Robbie Robertson of The Band is well known for his epic rock and roll songs and innovative guitar work. Now, he has added a new credit to his creative arsenal: children’s author.
Robertson and his co-authors have written a new kind of children’s book. This one is devoted to the idea of bringing popular music down to a child’s level and imparting the greatness and glory of the rich history of the cultural form that originally meant so much to him as a teenager and led him to tackle a career in music.
It’s a noble and generous undertaking by Robertson and his colleagues. They succeed very nicely, too, in conveying their love and affection for the music showcased in these pages.
The newly published volume from Tundra Books is entitled “Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed The World.” Robertson co-wrote the book with three music industry veterans, his son Sebastian Robertson, Jared Levine and Jim Guerinot. It also contains two CDs, encompassing selections from the recording artists that are discussed in the book.
Robertson & Co. present the sagas of 27 legendary artists, ranging from The Beatles and Bob Dylan to Ray Charles and Louis Jordan. They have hit on an adventurous approach to writing about popular music. They have succeeded in showing young readers that the music that these kids (or, more accurately, their parents) love has a history, dating back many decades. Read more about the book: http://www.amazon.com/Legends-Icons-Rebels-Music-Changed/dp/1770495711
The authors have accomplished something special. This book is not only lovingly crafted — it s a beautiful volume — it also succeeds on the level of telling the stories of the subjects. The writers have selected one song each for the CDs — “Here Comes the Sun” for The Beatles and “Forever Young” (which Robertson played guitar on) by Dylan, for example. Robertson, a modest rock and roll icon in his own right, has elected not to put any music by The Band in this volume. Hopefully, we’ll see “The Weight” featured in a second volume, along with material by The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and others.
The rock and roll memoir has become a staple of book publishers. In the past decade, everyone form Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton to Patti Smith and Gregg Allman has written an account of their music in “the good old days.” This book offers a worthwhile wrinkle to the genre.
Happily, Robbie Robertson, who has as much to say about his place in the world of music as anyone, is currently writing his autobiography. He’ll no doubt have numerous interesting takes on his years with The Band and Bob Dylan. It should do very well.
For now, we’ll have to be content to enjoy “Legends, Icons & Rebels.” With any luck, it will inspire children to appreciate pop music as much as the authors clearly have.