Today my friends over at the awesome Neil Young site, Thrasher’s Wheat, are helping celebrate the release of my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.
They’ve got a review of the book. Here’s an excerpt:
“Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll trilogy is an innovative coming-of-age experience tracing love and music-of-an-era. While nostalgic, it’s a beautiful evocation of a distant soundtrack still reverberating across the moonbeams like a lost Jack Kerouac in a 21st century Twitterverse with a kind of staccato amphetamine grammar that is fractured, deranged, unsettling yet compelling. A Catcher in the Rye 50+ years on, Holden Caulfield is now a hipster-hippie on a trip of misadventures in a counterculture world that’s more counter than culture where the Summer of Love turns into a Winter of War. Our hero “Writerman” careens through the haze and confusion to the true high of finding redemption and transformation.”
Also, an excerpt from a chapter in which the 19-year-old narrator and his college friend Jim attend a Neil Young concert in 1973. The narrator gets caught trying to film the concert with his Super8 camera (no cell phones back then), and they are both thrown out. While trying to find a way back in at the rear of the auditorium, they run into Neil Young as he’s about to board his tour bus. Read the excerpt to find out what happens and to get sense of what the book is like.
And finally, there’s a contest in which five winners will get print copies of the book, and five will get digital copies. The contest ends March 31, 2016 at 5 PM ET.
Remember back when you first wanted to become a rock critic? Or perhaps first started reading rock reviews. Those are the days of The Flowers Lied, my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel.
Writerman, the narrator, is a rock critic wannabe obsessed with music – favorites include Captain Beefheart, the Blue Oyster Cult, the 13th Floor Elevators, John Coltrane, Pearls Before Swine, Slim Harpo, Neil Young, Sam Rivers the New York Dolls and, of course, Bob Dylan.
If you grew up in the ‘60s or ‘70s, or ever wondered what it was really like to be a teenager back then, I think you’ll dig this novel.
Witness Writerman fighting his record buying addition at Odyssey Records as store owner Lucky Larry guzzles Green Death and applies the “upsell”, attending a Neil Young concert in 1973 and confronting Neil backstage, pursuing the Visions of Johanna chick of this dreams and ending up naked at the top of a Ferris wheel, alone with his best friend’s girl.
What the critics say about my novels:
“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might have read like this frothing debut…” – Rolling Stone
“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer
“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally
“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner
“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner
Great review of my novel, The Flowers Lied, went live at the online magazine, Ragazine, March 13, 2016. Here’s an image of it but please link to the site to read it. (By the way, the book is available here.)
Reviewer M. Sedlof writes:
It’s not easy to go through life driven by an intense desire to be part of a scene that really doesn’t think it needs you. Such is the quandary of Michael Stein in The Flowers Lied, Part Two of the Freak Scene Trilogy by Michael Goldberg that began with True Love Scars. After suffering ritualistic tribulations of young love in Scars, Stein (aka, Writerman), returns to the college scene older, wiser, increasingly hell-bent on becoming the rock ‘n’ roll writer of his dreams…
I’ll be reading from my new novel, The Flowers Lied, and the Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will be improvising when we do “a post-beat happening – words + music” on May 6, 2016 at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.
And please let your Bay Area friends know about this.
Here’s more info:
Celebrating ex-Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg’s new rock ‘n’ roll novel, The Flowers Lied, Goldberg and Grammy winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will collaborate on “a post-beat happening” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Goldberg will read from his new novel while Kaiser improvises on electric guitar. Plus a solo set by Kaiser. Note that no meat will be served during this event! Free.
What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:
“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer
“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally
“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner
“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner
“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman
“Reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love.” – Alina Simone
“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone
Michael Goldberg was a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for a decade. He has interviewed Jerry Garcia, Patti Smith, George Harrison, Captain Beefheart, Stevie Wonder, Sleater-Kinney, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Berry Gordy Jr., John Fogerty, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Black Flag, The Replacements, Flipper, Robbie Robertson, Sonic Youth and many more. In 1994 Goldberg launched the first Web music magazine, Addicted To Noise, and “invented music journalism on the web,” as journalist Denise Sullivan put it. Goldberg currently writes a column, The Drama You’ve Been Craving,” for Addicted To Noise and feature stories for the online animal rights magazine, The Daily Pitchfork.
“The Flowers Lied,” the second of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, is a story of love, friendship and the search for identity, set in the early ‘70s. Although it takes place in the past, themes running through the book — trying to live an authentic life, struggling against the powers that be, navigating the terrain between love and lust, loyalty and betrayal — are as relevant today as ever. Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was published in 2014.
Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks.
A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists. Among the numerous artists Kaiser has recorded or performed with are Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Jerry Garcia, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Negativland, Michael Stipe, Jim O’Rourke, Victoria Williams, Diamanda Galas and Cecil Taylor. Kaiser’s latest album, The Celestial Squid, was released last year.
The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612
Just wanted to offer a preview of the cover art from my upcoming novel, The Flowers Lied.
The book, a rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, will be available in October.
If you are interested in reviewing it, let me know and I’ll get you an advance copy. Post a comment letting me know and I’ll be in touch.
Here’s some advance praise:
“There was a time when (rock) music was the living pulse of a generation, when wanting to be a rock critic was a credible dream. That is the era of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, an ambitious and ultimately successful attempt at recasting the coming-of-age-in-the-wake-of-the-sixties-experience in innovative but authentic language, Kerouac in the 21st century. It jitters around in ever-accumulating fine detail that traces young love and desire and the pure true heart of the era, the music. It was a pivotal time, and Volume II, ‘The Flowers Lied,’ captures it.” — DENNIS MCNALLY, author of “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead” and “Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation & America”
“Goldberg presents us with a beautiful evocation of the Seventies where the music wasn’t just the soundtrack to our lives but the auteur of them. Writerman, our hero, drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon. Oh, oh, oh, oh Writerman!” — LARRY RATSO SLOMAN, author of “On the Road with Bob Dylan”
“Aspiring rock journalist Michael Stein (aka Writerman) returns in the second installment of Goldberg’s Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, picking up the narrative where he left off and fumbling his way across the countercultural landscape of the early Seventies like some less jaded, wannabe-hippie version of Holden Caulfield. This slightly-older-but-not-necessarily-wiser Stein, along with his inner circle of equally confused post-adolescents, is more fleshed-out as a character than in the previous (though superb) ‘True Love Scars.’ As a result the scenarios he finds himself thrust into, not to mention the occasional disaster of his own making, ring with an additional authenticity that will leave anyone who lived through the same era nodding with recognition. Some will even fidget uncomfortably in their seats, as I did—credit to Goldberg’s keen ability to channel his/our own misspent youth while sketching a series of remarkably believable portraits.
“Among the more memorable scenes: a hamfisted attempt to get his rock journalism published in the college newspaper, even more awkward attempts to get laid (that include at least one success, with his best friend’s girlfriend, no less, in a gondola at the top of a Ferris wheel), getting thrown out of a Neil Young concert by one of Bill Graham’s goons, navigating a surreal Halloween party while peaking on LSD, and kibitzing with a popular Lester Bangs-esque rock-crit. Along the way we get cameos from Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, the New York Dolls, Slim Harpo, James Brown, John Fowles, Sartre, Dostoyevsky and Godard. Settle in, crack open a bottle and/or spark a doob, and get ready for an emotional rollercoaster ride. Oh, and don’t touch the Thorens.” — FRED MILLS, editor, Blurt magazine
And a few excerpts from reviews of my previous novel, True Love Scars:
“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might have read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg… Readers from any musical era will come away with a deeper appreciation of how nostalgia can shape our lives, for better and for worse.” — COLIN FLEMING, Rolling Stone
“Michael Goldberg is comparable to Kerouac in a 21st century way, someone trying to use that language and energy and find a new way of doing it.” — MARK MORDUE, author of “Dastgah: Diary of a Head Trip”
“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar, its narrative is fractured and deranged, often unsettling but frequently compelling, an unsparing portrait of the teen condition: assured then despairing, would-be sex god then impotent has-been, an only child battling the wills of his domineering father and interfering mom in the anonymous, suburban fringes of Marin County.” — SIMON WARNER, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”
“Just call it a portrait of the rock critic as a young freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the Sixties dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of the Seventies, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows.” — ROY TRAKIN, Trakin Care of Business column
It was sixty years ago, on October 7, 1955, that Allen Ginsberg stood in the Six Gallery, a gallery/poetry space that artist Wally Hedrick had opened on Fillmore Street in San Francisco in 1954, and read his radical and epic poem “Howl” for the first time.
Hedrick had to convince his friend Ginsberg to appear. “[Hedrik] asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery,” according to Wikipedia. “At first, Ginsberg refused. But once he’d written a rough draft of ‘Howl,’ he changed his ‘fucking mind,’ as he put it. The large and excited audience included a drunken Jack Kerouac, who refused to read his own work but cheered the other poets on, shouting ‘Yeah! Go! Go!’ during their performances.”
Ginsberg was second to last on a lineup that also included Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, and Philip Whalen, Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth.
Michael McClure later wrote: “Ginsberg read on to the end of the poem, which left us standing in wonder, or cheering and wondering, but knowing at the deepest level that a barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh wall of America…”
In addition to being one of the seminal works to come out of the Beat movement, “Howl” influenced numerous poets around the world, both at the time and continuing right up to today. But it also had a profound impact on many rock musicians including a young Bob Dylan, whose songwriting was clearly influenced by Ginsberg’s electric writing in that poem, which begins:
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix…”
On October 10th, the 60th anniversary of that first reading of “Howl” will be celebrated during a nine hour event, Still Howling, at the Wonder Inn in Manchester, England, that will run from 2 pm until 11 pm.
Participating will be Ginsberg biographer (and Beat expert) Barry Miles, British poet Michael Horovitz who appeared along with Ginsberg at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965, Ginsberg guitarist Steven Taylor, who accompanied Ginsberg for 20 years (and a member of The Fugs for the past 30 years) and the British actor George Hunt, who will read “Howl” in its entirety. MCing will be CP Lee, author of “like the night: Bob Dylan and the road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall,” and a former senior lecturer at the University of Salford.
There will be an afternoon symposium featuring Miles, Horovitz, Taylor, Peter Hale of the Ginsberg Trust and poets Christina Fonthes and Elmi Ali, and others.
Taylor will collaborate with Horovitz, perform a solo set and give the British premiere of his short choral work, “Footnote to Howl.”
There will also be a series of musical performances, paying reference to Ginsberg and the Beats, by spoken word artist Heath Common, joined by the Lincoln 72s and Dub Sex front man Mark Hoyle, alt-folk singer-songwriter Chris T-T, whose debut album was called Beatverse, and the Isness.
The event is co-produced by Beat authority Simon Warner, who in 2005 organized a 50th anniversary celebration of the first reading of “Howl,” and Manchester-based installation artist Roger Bygott. “Roger proposed we try and do another [‘Howl’] birthday event,” Warner explained via email from Leeds, England, where he teaches at the University of Leeds. “A decade on seemed a good moment to return to this seminal moment in twentieth-century poetry.”
Warner has been a fan of ‘Howl’ since he first read it as a teenager. “At first Ginsberg’s poem seems like a dislocated explosion, a chaotic stream of consciousness,” Warner said during a 2013 interview. “But when you start to unpack the details and debate the reasons why the poet uses such a fragmented form, its treasures are many. Its language is rich and raucous, surprising, sometimes shocking. ‘Howl’ is one of the great modernist statements, to rank with masterpieces by Picasso and Brecht, Beckett and Eliot. Its truths lie in its dissonance, in its fragmented shards, in its huge rolling passion, its heartfelt gravity.”
It was in the late ‘70s that Warner discovered the Beats. “I first encountered the names of the Beats through publications like New Musical Express, a weekly magazine forging an alternative voice and confirming that there were links between popular musical expression and the ideas of those maverick American writers,” he wrote in his email. “But then I read Ann Charters’ biography of Kerouac, the first such book to profile the novelist, then came across a remarkable late 1950s compilation called ‘Protest,’ which gathered work by the Beats and the UK’s Angry Young Men, and ‘Howl’ was one of the featured items.”
While Kerouac’s “On the Road” is likely the most popular (and influential) piece of writing to emerge from the Beat scene, Warner thinks “Howl” – published a year before “On the Road” – is just as important a literary work, perhaps more important.
“I think that ‘Howl’ was a genuine game-changer in all sorts of ways,” Warner wrote. “Until then, this underground gathering of friends and lovers, largely unpublished novelists and poets, dubbed the Beat Generation, was essentially beneath the radar, largely anonymous. Ginsberg was desperate to escape the formal strictures of the academy when it came to poetry, but he was very nervous about expressing his most intense, inner personal feelings.
“Here was a Jewish, socialist, second-generation Russian immigrant and a homosexual man to boot, who was likely to upset the conservative WASP establishment on so many levels, at a time when anyone stepping out of line faced censure, the prospect of unemployment, even imprisonment,” Warner continued. “Ginsberg had devised a new observational poetry, a fractured, fractious consideration of contemporary America, a modernist view of a land ensnared in the post-war paranoia of Cold War politics.
“Yet there was also a deep humanity to the piece,” Warner wrote. “The poem was certainly a tremendously brave gesture and once it was read in the Six Gallery on October 7th, 1955, the padlocks of repression and inhibition were smashed. In short, ‘Howl’ introduced powerful and controversial ideas but also trumpeted, by name, those very writers who would become the key, published members of the Beat community, widely read and acclaimed in the decade that followed. It also opened up the possibility of the counterculture having a voice and, it might be argued, was actually a significant preface to what happened, socially, culturally, even politically, in the West in the 1960s.”
Warner is the author of “Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture,” and in that book he makes the case that the Beats, including Ginsberg, had an immense influence on rock music.
“The Beats had a tremendous impact on rock culture,” Warner wrote in the email. “Particularly that version of sophisticated rock music that emerged around 1965 and 1966, that time when Dylan went electric, when the Beatles entered a new era of musical and lyrical maturity.
“Artists from the Doors to Jefferson Airplane, the Stones to Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead to Van Morrison and Cream, acknowledged the influence that writers like Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg had had on their sensibilities, opening their consciousness and encouraging them to be more adventurous artistically.”
And while I’m at it, there’s a cool review of “True Love Scars” in the latest issue of Ragazine. Writer M. Sedlof manages to both write about my novel (he digs it) and provide some insight into my subtle approach to marketing “True Love Scars.” You can read his review here.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Goldberg’s virginal sex scenes unwind at the same racing-heart-awkward-self-conscious-anxious pace one can almost remember from those good old, bad old days when the forbidden fruit was all one ever wanted then-and-forever-after, only how to get it without letting it slip through your hands like sand, when all you ever did was what it took to make like you cared, when all you knew about caring was what you heard at home, an attitude you didn’t know you didn’t have that may have cost you big time. …
“This was life in California during the denoument days-months-years of Summer of Love, Altamont, the winding up-down of Vietnam, of Roman Polanski and Charlie Manson, Sharon Tate … of Haight and Half Moon Bay, of kids who didn’t surf, who confused and burned-out ended up discovering what the core of life is really like, deep inside, where if you’re lucky enough to find yourself before you die you might even claw your way out. It’s one kid’s story, and then some.”
“… a gonzo look back at misspent youth in the 1960s called True Love Scars — the first in a projected Days of Crazy Wild trilogy. It’s a crackling good read, fillled with humor, pathos, drug use and Dylan references (seriously, I think there’s one on every page). Some of the book is quite harrowing — The Wonder Years, this ain’t. But Goldberg’s freewheelin’ style captures a certain late 60s/early 70s vibe (think the autobiographical writings of Lester Bangs) that makes True Love Scars a pleasure through and through. Check it out.
Jason Gross’s blog:
[I published True Love Scars in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]
Yesterday afternoon, Saturday December 13, 2104, I read from my novel, True Love Scars, as the acclaimed, Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvised. And then Henry did a short, brilliant instrumental. The reading took place at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA.
I called the event a “post-beat happening.”
It was thrilling to read as Henry’s music lit up the room. When you’re on a stage and you’re in the groove, and the music, music you’ve never heard before, is exactly right for what you’re doing, you levitate.
Two sections I read were about how Bob Dylan’s music changed the narrator’s life. I’ve included both of those and then another excerpt which is the first few pages of the novel. Plus an instrumental improvisation by Henry that concluded the reading.
Down Home Music was an incredible environment for a reading. A room filled with CDs and vinyl and a wall of music books and music posters on the walls and incredibly knowledgeable folks running the place.
Where else is an impulse buy going to be a Roscoe Holcomb DVD?
Yep, I now own that DVD.
There was a nice write-up in advance of the reading in the East Bay Express and that brought a great group of folks into the store to hear me and Henry do our thing.
I read about 30 minutes while Henry utilized a guitar, a whammy bar and more than a dozen pedals to create a sonic backdrop for my words. Actually, it was more than a backdrop, as you’ll see if you listen to the first excerpt, below.
1) The impact of “Like A Rolling Stone”:
2) “It was Dylan, man!”:
3) How the book begins:
4) Henry’s concluding instrumental:
[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]
Big surprise today when I opened the latest East Bay Express and discovered that my reading Saturday with Henry Kaiser at Down Home Music is their pick for “Lectures & Lit” this week, and one of this weekend’s “Top Five Events.”
How cool is that!
I’ll read from my novel, True Love Scars, and experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will improvise on electric guitar.
It’ll happen at 3 pm at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA. And it’s free, of course.
Writes Arts and Culture Editor Sarah Burke:
True Love Scars is a rock ’n’ roll novel about harboring nostalgia for the 1960s, getting lost in a drugged-up dream-world, finding love, and then losing it tragically.
Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics.
The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks.
A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists.
Among the numerous artists Kaiser has recorded or performed with are Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Jerry Garcia, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Negativland, Michael Stipe, Jim O’Rourke, Victoria Williams, Diamanda Galas and Cecil Taylor.