Sunday, May 4, 2014

There Goes Editing

There Goes Gravity – A Life in Rock and Roll – Lisa Robinson (Riverhead Books)

Lisa Robinson was one of a small handful of early party crashers; female writers who gate crashed the all boys club that can almost laughably be called rock journalism. Robinson’s legendary career is marked with stints as a staff and contributing writer, columnist and editor of numerous alternative a mainstream publications. She has spent time on the road, breaking bread and interviewing most of the biggest name in music over the course of four decades.

Working from that frame work, it would be an easy expectation to think that Robinson’s career retrospective biography There Goes Gravity – A Life in Rock and Roll would be chock full of great stories, insider insights and great writing. Unfortunately those holding that expectation, myself included, will likely come away disappointed.

It’s only natural for someone who has enjoyed such a long and storied career would name drop with some regularity and Robinson certainly does, it’s the seemingly random references that add up to utter confusion. For someone who spent so much time working as an editor, this book is loaded with redundancies and repeated references.

Robinson tells the story about a 1971 trek to London with her husband, producer Richard Robinson and Lou Reed to record Reed’s first solo album. In the story she talks about the songs Reed has collected for the album, including “Walk on the Wild Side” then progresses to a birthday party they attended and David Bowie’s house and then about her free time spent shopping in London; only to close that paragraph with the line “And Lou did not record “Walk on the Wild Side” on that solo, self-titled debut album.” I get the whole stream of consciousness thing, but this just screams for an editor!

Robinson also spends an inordinate amount of time endeavoring to from her perspective, “set the record straight” about many stories that have been written about herself and the band’s she intimately covered. She regularly uses a line that “no two people remember it the same way” yet she seems to want the reader to believe that her version of the tale is the correct version.

Many of the things she hopes to clarify will likely be lost on the casual music fan, so you have to wonder how this will appeal to the broader audience and it ends off sounding like a petty effort to defend criticism of here “insider” status. There is a thin line between collector and hoarder, and Robinson sounds like a pack rat extraordinaire. She regularly references original notes and recordings of interviews, phone calls and general conversations, which would tend to lend a level of credibility to the stories based on her original point of view.


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