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Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3) by…
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Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3)

by John Niven

Series: 33 1/3 (28)

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I didn't think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. 33 1/3 is a music criticism series that's been getting good reviews, but "Music From Big Pink" dispensed with the criticism and uses an album and a band as a jumping-off point for a novella about drug addiction and the seedier side of the sixties. Focusing on two Canadians: Greg Keltner, a drug dealer who finds himself well-placed for the Woodstock music scene; and Richard Manuel, singer & pianist for The Band, and the dealer's entrance to the larger scene in Woodstock. Greg's drug dealing run-ins with musicians are sometimes a bit of a stretch, such as the off-handedness of Lou Reed's cameos, and suffer the same repetitive "oh yeah, I know [insert musician's name here]. He's a bit of an asshole" approach. What's worthwhile are Greg's interactions with the scene in Woodstock which make up the first part of the book: the parties, the languid days, the music, the scene. Then, as the rest of the country takes note of what's going on in Woodstock and starts to congregate there, the seedier side begins to take its toll and you see the eventual slide of the hippie movement as an inevitability. While this isn't on the level of Greil Marcus's madcap criticisms, its an effort well worthwhile reading if only for the joy of listening to The Band's opus while imagining what it was like to be a hanger-on at that time. ( )
1 vote mikewick | Apr 12, 2010 |
This is part of the 33 1/3 series--each a novella of creative nonfiction that looks into the creation of a pivotal and memorable album. This particular book looks at The Band's first album, "Music From Big Pink". If you're going by number, this is number 28.

This was vivid, fun, and a memorable read. It draws you into the scene of characters around The Band giving you humor and incredible moments of touching emotion. It brings back the music so that you'll want nothing more than to slip the album into your stereo, but I have a feeling that this would be a fun read even for someone who isn't familiar with the music it's based off of. The characters are memorable, and it feels as if you've wandered up to the window of a life you probably won't know yourself, but can certainly look into. And for anyone who's had those crazy musician friends, or has a year or so in their background when they had a bit too much fun--this will bring back some crazy memories I'm sure. It's not for everyone, but if this sounds entertaining, or if for that matter you're a fan of [Jesus' Son] or strains of pop culture, this is a fascinating read. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Sep 1, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 082641771X, Paperback)

"Music From Big Pink is a moving book that succeeds not just in vividly evoking its time and place but in distilling one young man's cliched and minor destiny into something approaching tragedy....This well-written first novel captures not just some of the dreams of that bygone era, but the way those dreams died."             -Greg Kamiya, The New York Times Book ReviewMusic From Big Pink is faction: real people like Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Bob Dylan and Albert Grossman rub shoulders with fictional characters and actual, documented events thread their way through text alongside imagined scenarios. Through the eyes of 23-year-old Greg Keltner, drug-dealer and wannabe musician, we witness the gestation and birth of a record that will go on to cast its spell across five decades - bewitching and inspiring artists as disparate as The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Travis, Wilco and Mercury Rev. Booksellers contact reviews@continuum-books.com for a reading copy, while supplies last!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:04 -0400)

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