One of the things you hear most often from guys my age is our pissing and moaning about the death of rock and roll.
Truth be told, a pretty good case can be made for it too. Certainly the most common complaints — the lack of any true megabands since U2, the decline of record sales, and the increasingly disposable pop of the Disney teen acts and American Idol — ring true enough.
The fact is, in today's musical landscape, the chances of a true game-changing phenomenon — one that affects not just the musical, but also the cultural landscape of America and the world in ways that the Beatles, Dylan, or even Nirvana did — just isn't that likely to happen. This probably has as much to do with how music is distributed to the masses these days as anything else. But that's another subject...
What I miss nearly as much as rock's golden age of the sixties, seventies, and eighties, however, is the brand of rock journalism which often went side by side with it — the type of writing I soaked up like a sponge in magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone as a kid, written with a fan's passion by guys like the late, great Lester Bangs.
Since I didn't grow up in Los Angeles (and therefore was unable read the music coverage of the L.A. Times), I was never that familiar with the work of Robert Hilburn, although I certainly knew of his reputation.
Reading his new book, however, it's certainly clear that he was, and still is, cut from that same old-school cloth of rock criticism that I miss so much. In fact, Hilburn's Corn Flakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock 'n' Roll Life is one of the best books on the subject of rock and roll I have read in a good long while.
Hilburn certainly writes from a perspective that is more informed than most — at times this book reads as much as a history of rock as it does as his own personal memoir.
But more importantly, Hilburn writes about the music he so clearly loves with all the passion of the most hardcore fan. This, more than anything else, is what separates Corn Flakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock 'n' Roll Life from the rest of the rock books you'll find in the music section at your nearest Borders, and also what makes it such a great read.