There Goes Gravity by Lisa Robinson

There Goes Gravity

There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll
Lisa Robinson was in the right place at the right time. She gained the trust and respect of the principle artists of the Rock Era. As a woman, but not a groupie, it gave her a special relationship with her subjects. Robinson never wrote album reviews nor any critical pieces of journalism, which also kept her from being froze out. By writing sympathetic interviews and slice-of-life pieces for various rock magazine (some of which she and her husband owned), Robinson got the kind of access to the artists that few writers have even received. As a fan of Rock music the book was a fun read with entertaining trivia and behind the scenes stories. Robinson does a good job transporting the reader back in time to the heyday of Rock. I was expecting gossip and name dropping. There is certainly both especially the latter, however, Robinson goes beyond gossip with her sense of humor and knowledge of Rock. I wish she had written about The Who, maybe she’s saving that for another book. I was also turned off by the Republican (George Bush) bashing. She comes across as ignorant; there is no reason to make these comments in a book about Rock.

B
361 pages

Excerpts From My Kindle

I was way underage when I put on makeup and high heels and snuck out of my parents’ apartment on the Upper West Side to go see Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in Greenwich Village and Anita O’Day and Stan Getz at the Village Vanguard (I probably looked ridiculous, but I was allowed in). I went to see rock and roll shows starring Little Richard and Chuck Berry and Scream-in’ Jay Hawkins at the Brooklyn Fox. So, in 1973, by the time I met Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, adorable as he was, and despite his band’s superstar status, I thought he was a bit provincial. He was, after all, from some farm in the north of England. Even the Rolling Stones, with the worldly and urbane Mick Jagger, were from England, which is, let’s face it, the size of Rhode Island. All those English boys had really bad teeth, were slightly ingenue, and were enamored of American black music–a subject I knew well. And while it’s still hard to get people to believe this, not a one of them was as witty or smart as David Johansen of the New York Dolls, who came from Staten Island. – location 69-76
[At the time Robinson started writing about Rock there were few writers covering Rock Music, so she had her pick of jobs.]

But with his love of R&B and especially Motown, he probably was the greatest rock and roll drummer of that generation or maybe ever, and was never given credit for it during his lifetime. (Charlie Watts was primarily a jazz drummer, Keith Moon was overrated, and as for Ringo, when John Lennon was asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, he reportedly replied, “In the world? He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles.”) – location 804-7
[Writing about John Bonham, this Lennon quote is one of my favorite, however, I love Ringo’s drumming.]

At one point during his solo career, when Robert Plant was unhappy that his band was the opening act for the Who on arena tours, his manager Bill Curbishley (who had managed the Who for years) told me he told Robert, “Here’s a phone number of a guitarist. Here’s a phone number of a bass player. Call them up and you can headline any stadium anywhere in the world.” – location 1081-83
[The unmentioned guitarist is Jimmy Page, and bassist: John Paul Jones.]

Of course, years later, I wondered if Tom would be mad had he known that I gave Bono and the Edge some of those Television tapes that, like some fan of the Grateful Dead, I made nightly at CBGB’s. Of course he would have been. I mean, just listen to U2’s guitar sound. – location 1378-79
[The impact of Tom Verlaine on The Edge has been pointed out before, but it is rather tenuous. They are both excellent guitarists.]

But Patti’s energy, her immediate embracing of the form, was euphoric, exhilarating, and new, especially coming from a girl. It wasn’t Appollinaire’s “Zone,” or Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” but the way she punched the air with so much attitude (some said artitude) and combined her poems with the music behind her, created a sense that something was happening here, and whatever it was, it didn’t happen often. She was pretentious as hell. – location 1513-16

George said, “when you put it all together, it’s great. But each piece of it, it’s not that good. Ringo’s a great rock and roll drummer, but he’d be the first to admit that technically, he’s not very good. John was a lousy guitar player, but he played certain things that nobody else could play. He was brilliant and his singing was fantastic. Paul had amazing charm and he could write those sweet melodies. I don’t know what I had, but when you put it all together, it was the Beatles.” – location 2114-17

By the early 1980s, in addition to my various print outlets, I had a syndicated radio show called The Inside Track and was the host and interviewer on two cable television shows: Radio 1990 and Nightflight. At this time MTV had just started but wasn’t available on cable everywhere in the U.S. (thus, the “I Want My MTV” campaign). But the USA Network carried the two shows I was on and I interviewed so many people for both the radio and the cable TV shows that I’ve lost count. I talked to, among many others, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Robert Plant, Chrissie Hynde, Pete Townshend, Steven Tyler, Joan Jett, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones from the Clash, Sting and the other two from the Police, Keith Richards, Billy Idol, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Boy George, Marianne Faithfull and everyone else who passed through New York City. One of the people I talked to and became friends with was Freddie Mercury. – location 2494-2500
[I first heard about Lisa Robinson on the cable television show “Radio 1990” which appeared on my television in the early 1980s.]

So much of what you remember about bands, and music, has to do with your age, where you lived and when you lived there. Where you were when you first heard a particular band. – location 3038-39
[This is why Current Music never sounds very good unless you’re 10-30 years old.]

On that day at the US Festival, Bono actually said to me, “I’m not the best at selling the group”–which was hilarious, because the most striking thing about U2, aside from their actual talent, was their actual ambition, fueled by Bono’s elaborate sales pitch. The reason some bands survive for years and others do not most often has to do with the drive, the lack of mistakes, the absence of drugs, the smart business decisions, and the hustle. – location 3081-84
[This was particularly true of U2.]

(Today, I bring three backup cassette recorders and many extra cassettes. And, to the amusement of every musician I’ve interviewed in the last two decades, I still use cassettes.) – location 3094-95
[Cassettes Lisa? It is the 21st Century!]

I asked why, at this stage of their career, did an album take two years? “Great hangs back until very good gets tired,” he said. “Who wants a good, or even very good U2 record right now? What’s the point? We need eleven great reasons (new songs) to leave home.” – location 3493-95
[It’s shame Bono isn’t heeding his own advice.]

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About craigmaas

I do a little web design work and support a couple web sites and blogs. My primary focus is lighting and energy consulting where I use a number of computer tools to help my customer find ways of saving money and improving their work environment. See my web site for more information: www.effectiveconcepts.net
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