Synopses & Reviews
Few journalists have staked a territory as definitively and passionately as Mikal Gilmore in his twenty-year career writing about rock & roll. Now, for the first time, this collection gathers his cultural criticism, interviews, reviews, and assorted musings in one essential and illuminating book. Beginning with Elvis and the birth of rock & roll, Gilmore traces the seismic changes in America as its youth responded to the postwar economic and political climate. He hears in the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison the voices of unrest and fervor. He charts the rise and fall of punk rock in brilliant essays on Lou Reed, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash and observes its manic impact twenty years later, resurfacing in the music of a Seattle, Washington, trio called Nirvana. Mikal Gilmore describes Bruce Springsteen's America and the problem of Michael Jackson. And like no one else, Gilmore listens to the lone voices: Al Green, Marianne Faithfull, SinÚad O'Connor, Frank Sinatra.
Four decades of American life are observed through the inimitable lens of rock & roll, and through the soulful heart of Mikal Gilmore, whose intelligence is informed by passion and whose passion for pure sound is palpable. More than a collection, Night Beat describes the way we live, the way we love, and how music redeems us. Cumulatively, the pieces gathered here go beyond the personal, expressing between the lines how rock & roll has become a powerful political force and what it has set free in American culture.
Gilmore closes this anthology with a series of stories about endings--the history of rock & roll, after all, would be incomplete without it. Eulogized in these pages are those who lived and died exuberantly, disastrously, beautifully, and tragically: Phil Ochs, Marvin Gaye, Jerry Garcia, and Kurt Cobain, to name a few. But perhaps it is in his penultimate essay, writing on the voice of poet Allen Ginsberg, where Mikal best describes the disenfranchised soul of those of us who need rock & roll and its redemptive power when he writes, "Ginsberg's voice will never leave us. Its truths and purposes will echo across our future as a clarion call of courage for the misfits, the fucked up, the fucking, and the dying. And we--all of us, whether we understand or not--are better for it."
About the Author
Mikal Gilmore has covered and criticized rock & roll, its culture, and related issues for many national publications. He was music editor for the L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and for twenty years has worked on the staff of Rolling Stone, where he has profiled many national figures. His first book, Shot in the Heart, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives and works in Los Angeles, California.