Synopses & Reviews
Punk rock and hip-hop. Disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown composers known as Minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was a laboratory where all the major styles of modern music were reinvented—block by block, by musicians who knew, admired, and borrowed from one another. Crime was everywhere, the government was broke, and the infrastructure was collapsing. But rent was cheap, and the possibilities for musical exploration were limitless.Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is the first book to tell the full story of the eras music scenes and the phenomenal and surprising ways they intersected. From New Years Day 1973 to New Years Eve 1977, the book moves panoramically from post-Dylan Greenwich Village, to the arson-scarred South Bronx barrios where salsa and hip-hop were created, to the lower Manhattan lofts where jazz and classical music were reimagined, to ramshackle clubs like CBGB and the Gallery, where rock and dance music were hot-wired for a new generation.
“Practically every paragraph about music here is also about something else just as fascinating—race, city planning, ambition, drugs, hair-dos. Braiding intricate research with his own teenage memories, Hermes has a birds eye view of a great city, and has his ear to the ground.” —Sarah Vowell
“By simply putting things in chronological order, Will Hermes shows just how astonishing New York Citys music was in the 1970s. But he does more than that: he brings depth and discernment and an eye for odd detail, making his book an essential work of cultural history.” —Luc Sante
“Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is an almost perfect portrait of New York music culture: specific yet comprehensive, enthusiastic yet objective, and as informed as it is personal. The four-page section of what (seemingly) every interesting person in NYC was doing on the night of the ‘77 blackout could have been a book unto itself.” —Chuck Klosterman
“A must-read for any music lover, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire will no doubt inspire nostalgia in readers who lived through the era, and make those who didnt wish they had.” —Liz Raftery, The Boston Globe
“Will Hermes grew up in Queens, but Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, his new book on New Yorks 1970s music scene, is no nostalgia jag—its a detailed time-machine trip that zooms in on everyone from the New York Dolls to Steve Reich.” —Rolling Stone
“Meticulously researched and engaging.” —Eric Been, The Wall Street Journal
“I thought there was nothing left to say about the seventies NYC music scene, but Hermes puts it all together—punk, salsa, jazz, hip-hop, disco—into a portrait of a city in ferment, with new bubbles of innovation popping up all over.” —Dan Kois, Vulture Recommends (New York magazine)
“Revelatory.” —Entertainment Weekly (
About the Author
Will Hermes is a senior critic for Rolling Stone and a longtime contributor to NPRs All Things Considered. His work also appears in The New York Times, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. He was the coeditor of SPIN: 20 Years of Alternative Music.