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Poet Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg to Read at The Octopus

An Evening of Poetry & Prose: Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg

Celebrated poet and songwriter Larry Beckett will be reading from his epic poem, “Paul Bunyan,” for the first time in the Bay Area at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Joining Larry Beckett will be novelist and former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg, who will read from his new novel, “Untitled.” The reading will begin at 7 pm.

If you are interested in attending, please head over to the event Facebook page and let me know.

Larry Beckett’s “Paul Bunyan” re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable.

Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world; “Song to the Siren,” which he wrote with Tim Buckley, has been covered by David Gray, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Larry Beckett’s other books include “Songs and Sonnets” and “Beat Poetry.” He has translated many poets, including Heraclitus, Goethe and Li Po. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

About “Paul Bunyan,” San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman wrote: “A terrific, epic-like poem based on the story of Paul Bunyan, in which Beckett creates a gigantic working-class type who is also everything and everyone. He’s mythic and his shibboleth is: Work. Beckett has written a rollicking, truly inventive long poem whose lines are sustained by a brilliant haiku-syllablation (each line has 12-15 syllables) coupled with images that bring the Bunyan myth right into the 21st Century. Certainly Beckett’s finest work to date.”

“Paul Bunyan” publisher’s page for more info is here.

Michael Goldberg is the author of three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied” and “Untitled,” which comprise the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, a rock ‘n’ roil coming-of-age story set in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

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

“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

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

Event Facebook page.

Bob Dylan Sings From the Autumn of His Life

fallen

Part two of his Sinatra sessions are heavy with meaning, and a whole lot of fun too

By Michael Goldberg

A fallen angel is an angel who has sinned and been cast out of heaven.

“Everybody knows that torch singers are ‘fallen angels,’…” – Torch Singing: Performing Resistance and Desire from Billie Holiday to Edith Piaf by Stacy Holman Jones

Bob Dylan showed up at Daniel Lanois’ house in Los Angeles sometime in the later half of 2014 with recordings of 21 songs he’d made at the beginning of the year at the legendary Capitol Records Studio B in Hollywood where Frank Sinatra, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the Beach Boys and many others once made records.

“He [Dylan] said, ‘Let me tell you, Dan: If you have the time, can I tell you how I grew up?’ So we sat in the kitchen. I hadn’t heard a note.
“He spoke for an hour and a half on how, as a kid, you couldn’t even get pictures of anybody [the artists],” Lanois, who produced two Dylan albums, 1989’s Oh Mercy, and 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, recounted to a reporter from the Vancouver Sun in February of 2015. “You might get a record but you didn’t know what they [the artist] looked like. So there was a lot of mystery associated with the work at the time. As far as hearing live music, he only heard a couple of shows a year, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra might come through.

“But the music he did hear really touched him and he felt that a lot of that music was written not only by great professional songwriters at the time, but a lot of it was written from the heart, from the wartime, and people just pining for a lover. He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. He felt there was a kind of beauty, a sacred ground for him.

“After having said all that, we then listened to the music and I felt everything that he talked about. For one of America’s great writers to say, ‘I’m not gonna write a song. I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as a young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”

Ten of the recordings Lanois heard that day were released on Dylan’s wonderful 2015 album, Shadows in the Night. What happened to the others is something of a mystery.

Read the rest of this review at Addicted To Noise.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Video: Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser Do Neil Young

Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.
Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.

Last night (May 7, 2016) myself and the amazing experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser gave a reading to a standing-room-only audience at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

Henry opened with a 20 minute solo electric guitar set of improvisations utilizing several guitars and a bank of effects pedals as well as a strange box that produced drum and bass based on what Henry played.

Then I joined Henry on the stage to read ten excerpts from my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

This reading was very special because Henry was accompanying me on guitar and machines. We had done this only once before, back in 2014, at Down Home Music. That was a great show, but it was totally different. Completely different vibe.

I read five longer excerpts with an “interlude” devoted to a musician or song between each. The first was about Skippy James and “I’m So Glad,” then Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Neil Young. Below you can hear “Interlude #4: Neil Young.”

For me, it was so very intense to stand there before the audience, all eyes on the two of us, and read words I’d spent more than six years perfecting. I had been reading my novel aloud as I wrote it. Every day for six years I read some of it aloud. Every page was read aloud and every revised page. I knew the sound of my words, my sentences, my paragraphs. I knew the rhythms of those sentences, and the music they make.

I had read in the privacy of my office. I had read before the members of three writers groups I was in: The Dangerous Writers group in Portland in 2008 and some of 2009 where all the early work got done, another group in Inverness, CA in late 2009 and 2010, and the group I led in Oakland and El Cerrito from late 2010 to late 2013.

And yet this was totally different. There really is nothing like reading before an audience in a public space, an audience silent because they want to hear the words and the music, the music of the words and the music of the music.

Here’s a taste of what went down. This is a brief excerpt from a chapter in which the narrator and his friend go to a Neil Young concert in late 1972. The first line is cut off. So I’ll tell you what it is:

“I dig Neil the most, beginning in his Buffalo Springfield days…”

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Rock’s Back Pages ‘Rock Critic Excerpt’ From “The Flowers Lied”

RBP - final 2

Those awesome editors at Rock’s Back Pages have featured me and an excerpt from my new rock novel, The Flowers Lied, on the home page of their site.

In the excerpt. which is the third chapter of the book. the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman, meets two of his rock critic heroes for the first time when he visits them at The Pad, the rather decrepit apartment where both critics live and work.

The introduction to the excerpt begins:

Michael Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied, has just been published. Richard Meltzer wrote that Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was “Radioactive as Godzilla.” Goldberg has been called a “21st Century Kerouac” by Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally and compared to Lester Bangs by Rolling Stone. The new novel focuses on Writerman (Michael Stein) a sophomore at The University, which is located in Northern California on hill above a beach town not unlike Santa Cruz. He’s a music freak and wannabe writer – he struggles with a Captain Beefheart album review, and tries and fails to type a single word of the Great American Novel he is so desperate to write. He pursues a hip but traumatized 18-year-old artist named Elise, who introduces him to tequila and Almaden Red. And he becomes best friends with Jim AKA Thee Freakster Bro, the over-the-top, gregarious writer/poet/music obsessive stoner he first meets in True Love Scars.

Read the entire excerpt at Rock’s Back Pages. Enjoy!

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Win A Copy of My Rock Novel, ‘The Flowers Lied’

Thrashers Wheat

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.

It’s all happening at Thrasher’s Wheat right now.

More Hype About My New Novel, The Flowers Lied

tfl-fb copy

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

More info here:

The Flowers Lied – Reviews

Michael Goldberg’s New Novel, The Flowers Lied, Reviewed

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…

Read more of the review at Ragazine.

The Flowers Lied is the second book of my rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age Freak Scene Dream Trilogy.

Sedlof ends his review: “So looking forward to part three.”

rag review

Get the book here.

More reviews here.

And if you are in the Bay Area on May 7, 2016, come hear me read from it at the Octopus Literary Salon while Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvises.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Novelist Michael Goldberg & Grammy Winner Henry Kaiser to Perform Together

tfl-fb copy

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.

If you’re interested, check out the events Facebook page, “a post-beat happening.”

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.

Henry Kaiser in action - not to be missed.
Henry Kaiser in action – not to be missed.

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

Phone: (510) 844-4120

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

There’s Nothing Humane About Whole Foods Turkey

One of the maltreated and sick birds found in a barn at Diestel’s Jamestown, CA farm, 2015.

An investigation by Direct Action Everywhere finds “horrific conditions” at a Whole Foods top-rated “humane” meat supplier

By Michael Goldberg

The Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonora, CA is a beautiful place where turkeys are free to roam on tree-shaded green pastures. “HAPPY TURKEYS AHEAD” reads a sign outside the Whole Foods meat supplier’s farm in the foothills of the Sierra.

And that’s what consumers see in promotional brochures and Whole Foods video of Diestel’s Sonora ranch, one of just three suppliers (out of 2100) to earn Whole Foods’ 5+ humane meat rating, the upscale retailer’s coveted top honor.

“There’s not a lot of secrets here,” says Timothy J. Diestel, who along with his wife Joan C. Diestel has been running the ranch since 1980.

But an investigation and report by the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) shows otherwise. A 2013 California Regional Water Quality Control Board report states no commercial turkeys have been raised at the Sonora facility since 2011. According to the report, Diestel’s turkeys come from other facilities. One of those is in nearby Jamestown, whose premises are nothing like what Whole Foods depicts in its “humane turkey” videos.

Read the rest of this story at The Daily Pitchfork.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild post –

Goldberg On Dylan: 18 CD ‘The Cutting Edge’ Set Reviewed

Down the Rabbit Hole with Bob Dylan in the Mid-Sixties

By Michael Goldberg

The mysteries of the ’65/’66 recordings revealed (maybe)

How deep can you go into a song? As Greil Marcus’ two recent books, “The History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in Ten Songs” and “Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations,” reveal, there’s no limit. Alice falling down the rabbit hole to discover a subterranean landscape dotted with surreal characters such as the “mad” Hatter, the White Rabbit and a hookah smoking caterpillar, has nothing on Marcus, who takes a song as deceptively simple as Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s 1928 recording “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” and finds lost continents in its strange lyrics.

It’s no coincidence that Marcus is obsessed with Bob Dylan, the master of bottomless songs; Marcus has written entire books delving into what he hears in Dylan’s recordings. He’s been digging Dylan even longer than I have, and I’ve been in the Dylan Zone for 50 years.

I read “Three Songs…” just prior to the arrival of the Collector’s Edition of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12, a pricey ($599) 18 CD set that contains “every note recorded during the 1965-1966 sessions,” according to a Sony press release, as well as a CD of recordings made in hotel rooms while Dylan was touring during those years that include some wonderful, apparently never completed Dylan originals. Now if only they’d released all the live recordings, but perhaps that’s in the works, hint, hint…

Just so you understand, 18 CDs translates to over 18 hours of music. Close to a full day and night’s worth of Bob Dylan recording the albums that set a new standard for what rock ‘n’ roll records could be, and to this day influence musicians the world over. Many of the songs on those albums are deep. They are songs with trap doors and secret passages, songs that confound, defy, deny, and mystify.

Here was an opportunity to explore not only the depth of the songs recorded during the sessions that produced Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde, but a rare look at the creative process of an artist at the top of his game: Bob Dylan attempting many takes of some songs, radically changing his approach from take to take in some cases while making minor changes in others. Dylan cracking jokes and cracking up.

BD1_Bootleg 12ed_ (c) Don Hunstein copy

“Like a Rolling Stone” Turned My World Upside Down

I’d just turned 12 the first time I heard Bob Dylan. His voice from the car radio singing his Top Ten hit as my mom drove me somewhere in the summer of ’65. I had been listening to rock music – including songs by The Beatles and the Stones and the Beach Boys and the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Byrds – for a year or so. This was different. This was “Like a Rolling Stone.” This was the ecstatic transmuted into a six minute, thirteen second recording.

That song changed me. There was rebellious fury in Dylan’s voice, in how he sang his Beat lyrics about class privilege and the fall from grace, in how he sang a song that managed to say what it took F. Scott Fitzgerald a whole novel, “The Beautiful and the Damned,” to say. But though I related to the lyrics, what slayed me was the music. And more. Dylan’s voice and the sound of that record made me know one didn’t have to go along with the rules society imposed, that there was another way to live. That it was possible to be fully alive, and not sleepwalk through life.

Or as Dylan sang, “It’s life, and life only.”

So for me, perhaps the pièce de résistance here are the complete studio recordings of “Like a Rolling Stone,” all 20 of them. As it turns out you can also get them on the much less expensive 6 CD Deluxe Edition; for many that will be the way to go. And let me be clear here: the 18 CD set is only for the total obsessives, the immoderates, of which I am one.

Listening chronologically to all the takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” provides a kind of fly on the wall view of how Dylan and a crew of extremely talented musicians – on the first day the song is attempted: Michael Bloomfield on guitar, Al Gorgoni on guitar, Paul Griffin on organ, Frank Owens on piano, Joseph Macho Jr. on bass and Bobby Gregg on drums; and on the second day: Bloomfield, Griffin on piano, Macho Jr., Gregg and the addition of Al Kooper on organ and Bruce Langhorne on tambourine – succeed against all odds in recording one of the great rock ‘n’ roll records.

In the epitaph to his 2005 book, “Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads,” Greil Marcus describes in detail what happened during the “Like a Rolling Stone” sessions based on listening carefully to the session tapes. When I read his book in 2011, I wanted so bad to hear what Marcus had described. His writing made me feel as close to being there in the studio as I imagined one could ever get.

I was wrong. Miracle of miracles! Now we can actually listen for ourselves, we can get even closer, we can listen in on a historic moment in rock history, when everything fell apart, then came together for those six minutes, 13 seconds – musicians, producer, singer, words, melody – and fell apart all over again.

As Marcus has written, and as is clear when you listen, nothing was going right. When they start in on the song at Columbia Studio A in New York, near the end of a long session on June 15, 1965 that has already found these musicians cutting ten takes of “Phantom Engineer” (the song that was retitled “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”), and seven takes of “Sitting On a Barbed Wire Fence,” Dylan admits, “My voice is gone.”

Soon they pack it in, only to pick up where they left off the next day, which is to say, during the first few takes the song remains out of reach. It doesn’t have a hook to pull you in from the first notes, Michael Bloomfield hasn’t found the guitar riffs the song needs, Al Kooper is searching for what to play on organ, and Dylan hasn’t found the right tempo or pacing, nor settled on how he should sing his bitter words.

As I listened, first to the January 15 recordings, then the first few takes cut the next day, lost in the moments of those takes, despite knowing that Dylan and the band had eventually pulled it off, I started to have my doubts. It was as if they’d taken a wrong turn and were miles from the song. And then, amazingly, with the fourth take they hit pay dirt. Only they weren’t sure, and recorded ten more takes, once again losing their way.

Read the rest of this essay at Addicted To Noise.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –