Among other things I talk about how Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart and Diane Arbus changed my life, some of the most difficult artist interviews of my rock journalism career, and how I wrote my latest novel. The Flowers Lied.
Here’s how the interview begins:
From his early rock writing, to a spot as a Rolling Stone mainstay, to a pioneering Web editor/publisher, to rock as literature, Michael Goldberg, founded of the original Addicted To Noise in 1994, keeps moving and keeps his thumb pushed down deep on the blurt.
Goldberg was immersed in the punk scene in the mid-1970’s, interviewing Patti Smith and The Ramones and the Talking Heads for stories that ran in the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Clash nearly threw him out of a San Francisco recording studio, the Sex Pistols tried to break his tape recorder, and Frank Zappa said if Michael Goldberg was one of his fans he was in big trouble.
Prior to starting ATN, Goldberg was an associate editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications.
Goldberg has recently published The Flowers Lied, the second of three books detailing the life, work, frustrations, and passions of his protagonist, Writerman.
Who were your earliest powerful influences, literary, musical, and otherwise?
It’s rare that something you read or hear has a direct, clear-cut influence…
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
The musicians and writers whose art presaged and influenced and influenced The Sixties.
By Michael Goldberg.
On Highway 61 – Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom, Dennis McNally, Counterpoint Press (471 pages)
Let me start at the end and tell you that the final section of On Highway 61, some 120 pages, provides the best portrait of Bob Dylan and his creativity, what nurtured it, and how it evolved, that I’ve read to date.
Additionally, author Dennis McNally focuses on how Dylan’s worldview – and the songs he wrote and/or sung – can be characterized as part of the ongoing search for freedom in all it’s manifestations, physical, spiritual and cultural. And more. Dylan was at least as influenced by the music made by African Americans, as he was by white country and folk musicians. And this is important, as it is simply one of many examples in this terrific book that make the case that African Americans are primarily responsible for what is truly great in American music.
But there are other reasons it’s appropriate to start with Dylan. Like some of that artist’s surrealist (or perhaps hyper-real) songs of 1965 – “Desolation Row,” “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” — McNally has populated his book with an incredible array of iconic figures — including Henry David Thoreau, Miles Davis, Mark Twain, Bessie Smith and Jack Kerouac – who, like Dylan, have allowed those who have paid attention to their art to experience, as McNally puts it, “a widening of vision, a softening of the heart, and an increase in tolerance.”
No Anita Ekberg (“to make the country grow”)) and no Shakespeare (“with his pointed shoes and his bells”), but what the hell. As artfully as Dylan in his songs, McNally has made his superhuman crew fit seamlessly into this treatise on cultural freedom. In fact, those artists and their work is the story of cultural freedom.
And what is cultural freedom?
Leave it to Mr. Dylan, who McNally quotes from a 1987 US magazine interview, to give us a clue.
“When I first heard Elvis’s voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody and nobody was gonna be my boss,” Dylan said. “Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.”
Art that makes you feel like busting out of jail. That would be one definition.
Or, as Dylan sang it, “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”
-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-
[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]
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.]
Not that I can keep from letting it go to my head (that’s long been a lost cause), but it is exciting that culture critic Roy Trakin has included my novel, True Love Scars, in his best books of 2014 list. The book is #4 in his list.
Just call it a portrait of the young rock critic as a freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the ‘60s dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of a ‘70s nightmare, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows. The one-time Rolling Stone journalist turned-Internet pioneer with his groundbreaking mid-‘90s Addicted to Noise site has always been on the cutting edge and here he perfectly captures a horny, but romantic, teenager growing up in Marin County back in what he calls the Days of the Crazy-Wild, where getting your parents to let you grow out your hair was proof alone of your manhood. If you lived through those momentous times, or even if you didn’t, Goldberg conveys that rush of ideas, music and literature that made it such a heady era, while still ruefully acknowledge its fleeting, self-destructive aftermath in what amounts to his version of fellow one-time Stone scribe Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.
Yesterday the pop culture site PopMatters, posted a terrific review of my novel “True Love Scars.”
PopMatters contributing editor Greg M. Schwartz writes:
…the novel is a whirlwind tale of a young music fanatic’s quest for true love, high times and “the authentic real” (not necessarily in that order).
Teenage protagonist Michael Stein, aka “Writerman”, lives in Marin County and longs to be a musician, or at least a music writer. He’s into almost all of the musical icons of the era, especially Bob Dylan. Writerman is obsessed with finding his “Visions of Johanna” chick, who eventually appears in the form of Sweet Sarah. But conflict is ordained from the start. Chapter One begins with Writerman speaking in a sort of fever dream about how he betrayed and lost Sarah and has been on a quest to redeem his crushed soul ever since.
And later in the review, talking about the narrator’s obsession with Bob Dylan, Schwartz writes:
He can analyze those Dylan lyrics all day. He and a girl who’s charmingly fond of speaking in Dylan lyrics pore over Dylan’s albums in a scene from 1965, going over his evolution as an artist. “First time I heard that Dylan song it saved my life,” Writerman says of “Like a Rolling Stone”. It’s a sentiment that speaks for several generations of rock ‘n’ rollers, from those who came of age in Goldberg’s era to the present. They get deep into Dylanology in the scene as Writerman speaks of how Dylan opened his eyes to “how almost nothing is what it appears to be and I think that’s when I got it in my head I got to figure out the authentic real, see the world for what it is and not the facade of delusional humans erect in front of the truth.”
That’s what great rock ‘n’ roll can do, and True Love Scars is deeply dialed in to rock’s dichotomy of enlightening powers versus stonered party time.
Don’t know how I managed to miss this, but last month my friends at R.E.M.H.Q. did a cool post about an interview with Peter Buck I did prior to the release of New Adventures In Hi-Fi, back in 1996.
And they included a nice plug for my novel, “True Love Scars.”
You can check out the post and read the interview with Peter Buck here.
Coming up this Friday, August 17, 2014 at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco is the momentous LitQuake “Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus: A Cavalcade of Stars,” an evening of music critics reading from their latest books.
The lineup: Gina Arnold (author of the book “Exile In Guyville”), former San Francisco Chronicle pop music critic Joel Selvin (“Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues”), Kerouac/Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally (“On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom”), Addicted To Noise founder/former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg (“True Love Scars”), musician Bruce Cockburn (“Rumours of Glory”), rock journalist and author Denise Sullivan (“Shaman’s Blues: The Art and Influences Behind Jim Morrison and the Doors”), rock historian and college teacher Richie Unterberger (“Jingle Jangle Morning: Folk-Rock in the 1960s”) and best-selling authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman (“Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire”).
Providing music will be Camper Van Beethoven cofounder Victor Krummenacher.
The evening starts at 7 pm and admission is a cheap $10.
And finally, for today and maybe Tuesday the Kindle version of “True Love Scars” is available for $2.99. A bargain at three times the price. Soon it will be again priced at $9.99, so get it on the cheap now.
[Rolling Stone has a great review of “True Love Scars” in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]
On October 28, 2014 the first complete book of Bob Dylan’s lyrics will be published in a limited edition of 3500 copies. Priced at $200 for the 960 page, 13.3 pound book, Amazon is currently taking advance orders for the book at a discounted price of $126.74.
The songs are presented chronologically, including alternative versions released as part of Mr. Dylan’s archival “Bootleg Series.” The album covers, front and back, are reproduced.
The way the songs are laid out is meant “to help the eye see what the ear hears,” Mr. Ricks said. “If you print the songs flush left,” he added, “it doesn’t represent, visually, the audible experience.” So refrains, choruses and bridges are indented. And where Mr. Dylan intended a line, however long, to be unbroken, it sprawls across the 13-inch-wide page.
How did the editors know which lines were meant to be unbroken? Did Mr. Dylan provide feedback or comments? Mr. Karp said he had heard that Mr. Dylan provided notebooks and manuscripts. Mr. Ricks refused to elaborate.
“I think the right thing for us,” he said, “is not to go into the question of the particular kinds of help and assistance and advice that we were in a position to receive.”
“The Lyrics: Since 1962” (Hardcover – October 28, 2014)
by Bob Dylan (Author), Christopher Ricks (Editor), Lisa Nemrow (Editor), Julie Nemrow (Editor)
Hardcover: 960 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 28, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 12.4 x 2.8 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.3 pounds
A major publishing event—a beautiful, comprehensive collection of the lyrics of Bob Dylan with artwork from thirty-three albums, edited and with an introduction by Christopher Ricks.
As it was well put by Al Kooper (the man behind the organ on “Like a Rolling Stone”), “Bob is the equivalent of William Shakespeare. What Shakespeare did in his time, Bob does in his time.” Christopher Ricks, editor of T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Tennyson, and The Oxford Book of English Verse, has no argument with Mr. Kooper’s assessment, and Dylan is attended to accordingly in this authoritative edition of his lyrics.
In the words of Ricks: “For fifty years, all the world has delighted in Bob Dylan’s books of words and more than words: provocative, mysterious, touching, baffling, not-to-be-pinned-down, intriguing, and a reminder that genius is free to do as it chooses. And, again and again, these are not the words that he sings on the initially released albums.”
This edition changes things, giving us the words from officially released studio and live recordings, as well as selected variant lyrics and revisions to these, recent revisions and retrospective ones; and, from the archives, words that, till now, have not been published.
The Lyrics, edited with diligence by Christopher Ricks, Lisa Nemrow, and Julie Nemrow. As set down, as sung, and as sung again.
While you wait, here’s Dylan, Ry Cooder and Van Dyke Parks performing Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi” at the Malibu Performing Arts Center in January 2009:
[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in the new issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]
At this year’s LitQuake festival, a who’s who of music writers including University of San Francisco professor/ former rock critic Gina Arnold (author of the book “Exile In Guyville”), former San Francisco Chronicle pop music critic Joel Selvin (“Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues”), Kerouac/Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally (“A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead”) will read from their most recent books on Friday, October 17, 2014 at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco’s Mission district.
The high profile lineup also includes Addicted To Noise founder/former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg (“True Love Scars”), musician Bruce Cockburn (“Rumours of Glory”), rock journalist and author Denise Sullivan (“Shaman’s Blues: The Art and Influences Behind Jim Morrison and the Doors”), rock historian and college teacher Richie Unterberger (“Jingle Jangle Morning: Folk-Rock in the 1960s”) and best-selling authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman (“Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire”).
Providing music will be Camper Van Beethoven cofounder Victor Krummenacher.
The evening will start at 7 pm and admission is a bargain at $10.
I think this will be a great evening. Kinda of like a greatest hits of recent music books. Each of us will read our best 7 minutes.
We’ll have our books for sale, and if you want a personal message written by the author, all you have to do is ask.
Meanwhile, I’ve got the Kindle version of my book. True Love Scars, on sale this week for $2.99. I can tell you it would be a bargain at twice the price.