“I don’t like nostalgia. I consider it destructive to a rational understanding of history.”
From the Sex Pistols’ last show to the backseat of Elvis’ gold Cadillac, Ed Ward has had a front-row seat to the history of rock & roll. He returns to the show to talk about The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977: The Beatles, the Stones, and the Rise of Classic Rock (Flatiron Books), and we get into the challenges of chronicling the form in that that era (both narratively and chronologically), his novelistic approach to history, the destructive nature of nostalgia, and how glad he was to get corroboration on the circumstances of Jim Morrison’s death. Along the way, we get into his oft-quoted but misunderstood review of the first Stooges record (and how Iggy validated him), how Woodstock predicted the collapse of the music industry, why he thought (incorrectly) that the ‘70s were a nostalgia-proof generation, why he doesn’t listen to music anymore, and his answer to the key question of the era: Beatles or Stones? Give it a listen (and check out our 2016 podcast)! And go buy The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977!
“I was there and I know how the story of rock & roll ends.”
“Music is no longer central to youth culture.”
“Disco was rhythm & blues by other means.”
About our Guest
Ed Ward was the rock-and-roll historian on Fresh Air for more than thirty years, reaching fourteen million listeners. Currently he is the cohost of the Let It Roll podcast. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless music magazines. He is the author of The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 and of Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero. His new book is The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977: The Beatles, the Stones, and the Rise of Classic Rock. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Fairfield Inn near Penn Station in NYC on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Ward by me. It’s on my instagram.
“Artistically, LA’s a disaster. It’s full of amazing stories. But as a city, it’s not a city. Nobody but bus-drivers see the whole place.”
Singer-songwriter, musician, inventor, dad, reader, and writer David Baerwald joins the show to talk about the ups and downs of his career in the music biz, his crazy family history, the perils of grafting personalities onto up-and-coming musicians, and why he doesn’t trust happiness. We also talk about the Watchmen-like trail of destruction that followed Sheryl Crow’s breakthrough album, why the drug business is notoriously filled with short-tempered people, how being a script analyst for a movie studio taught him how to write a song, and why he’s a firm believer in the notion that to tell a big story, you have to tell a small one.
“You just want to do something decent when you make a record, but then it becomes a whole thing. It becomes an industry, and you’re always on display and people are tearing you apart psychologically, and you just feel like a buffoon.”
We also get into the difference between writing poems and writing songs, the writers who inspired his work on the David + David album, Boomtown, and why he thinks Thomas Pynchon understood things about the world that people are only now coming to grips with. (BONUS: I clean up some loose ends from last week’s podcast with Merrill Markoe)
About our Guest
David Baerwald was one half of David + David (along with David Ricketts), a band whose one album, Boomtown, scored a gold record. They split up and Baerwald put out several solo records — Bedtime Stories, Triage and Here Comes The New Folk Underground — between 1990 and 2002. He’s written songs for plenty of acts you know, and he wrote many of the songs on Sheryl Crow’s breakthrough album, which is a story he gets into in our conversation. He’s also done a lot of work in movies and TV, both scoring music and writing songs. David’s IMDB page lists many of his songwriting credits, including Come What May, the love song for Moulin Rouge, which was nominated for a Golden Globe award. He also wrote Supermodel, for the movie Clueless, which proves he’s not ALL grim and gloomy.
Credits: This episode’s music is Welcome to the Boomtown (David + David), Colette (David Baerwald), If (David Baerwald), and Heroes (David + David). The conversation was recorded in Mr. Baerwald’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Baerwald by me.
What I’m listening to: Ten Short Songs About Love, by Gary Clark.
What I’m watching: Tried Sweeney Todd, but got bored.
What I’m drinking: Wet by Beefeater G&Ts, but I picked up some Plymouth this weekend. While I was at the liquor store, I noticed that an allegedly high-end gin â€” New Amsterdam â€” I was wary of when I first saw it a few months ago is now on sale for the rotgut price of $18.99 for 1.75 L. If you’re at the same price point as Gordon’s and Gilbey’s, you are officially a cheap-ass gin, regardless of your stylish packaging.
What Rufus is up to: Another greyhound hike in Wawayanda, with a post-hike feeding frenzy!
Where I’m going: Atlanta next week for the AAPS meeting. I’m hoping to meet up with some friends from grad school while I’m down there, but that’ll entail blowing off a biz-type dinner at some point.
What I’m happy about: My wife is still alive in the NFL Loser pool that I flunked out of in its first week. Oh, and greyhound racing got banned in Massachusetts!
What I’m sad about: That I haven’t taken care of my mammoth landscaping plans or gotten a fence put in the backyard yet.
What I’m pondering: Jesse Jackson – crocodile tears or just a moment without charlatanry? The question is moot!