Book Review: There Goes Gravity-A Life in Rock and Roll by Lisa Robinson

lisarobinson-theregoesgravity-bookcoverartwork-e1411324831412“…Whether I was on a private plane with Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones…or standing in two inches of beer on the floor of CBGB’s, it was exactly where I wanted to be.”-Lisa Robinson

Simply put—Lisa Robinson just might be one of the coolest dames in the universe, and one of most enviable. She was a rock journalist when rock journalism was barely a thing. She has covered everyone from Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga. And now Ms. Robinson is sharing her experience in her exhaustive and entertaining memoir There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll.

Robinson didn’t plan on being a rock journalist, but it wasn’t some she just happened to “fall” into either. A music fan since her youth (she used to sneak out of her parents’ NYC home to attend Thelonious Monk shows), Robinson found herself working for radio DJ, music producer and newspaper columnist, Richard Robinson. When Richard (soon to be Lisa’s lucky hubby) got busy producing an album, he asked Robinson if she’d be interested in taking over his newspaper column. Though a bit hesitant at first, Robinson decided to go for it and hasn’t stopped since.

One of the first bands Robinson cover were the bad boys of rock, Led Zeppelin. Robinson was fully aware of Led Zeppelin’s reputation for debauched antics, but it didn’t deter her. She knew they were just mere mortals who put their trousers on one leg at a time (theoretically speaking—Zeppelin and those surrounding them weren’t exactly known for keeping their trousers on). Robinson goal was on getting the scoop, not sex.

It was Robinson’s professionalism, smarts, and innate talent as a writer that managed her to sustain a notable career in fields not exactly known for treating women particularly well—music and journalism. Robinson wrote for publications like Hit Parader, Creem, New Musical Express (NME), the New York Post, Rock Scene, and currently contributes to Vanity Fair.

Since those crazy Led Zeppelin days and nights, Robinson has covered The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Patti Smith, The Ramones, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, U2, Lou Reed, Television, The New York Dolls, Madonna, Jay Z, Queen, Lady Gaga, Kiss, the Sex Pistols and Kanye West.

With a mixture of both humor and warmth, Robinson was able to get these artists to open up that often belied their public images and sometimes confirmed them. While reading There Goes Gravity I could totally understand why so many musicians felt comfortable with Robinson. Her warmth and wit are inviting. She never came across “too cool for school” nor did she behave like a drooling sycophant.

According to Robinson the late Michael Jackson, well-known for his whispery speaking voice, could sound rather assertive and commanding while talking to lawyers and executives. Lou Reed and David Bowie often had dinner at Lisa and her husband’s apartment. Bono is at turns achingly earnest and overtly self-confident. But you can thank Robinson for convincing the former Paul David Hewson to stop dying his hair black.

Robinson admits what Madonna lacks in vocal talent, she makes up in drive and business savvy. She is also humorless and haughty. And though Lady Gaga gets compared to Madonna, she can actually sing and truly connects with others especially her fans. In one passage, Robinson describes enjoy a plate of pasta made by Lady Gaga while hanging out at Gaga’s parents’ apartment.

For Robinson, Kanye West gives a powerful voice to views most people are too meek to admit. We meet a domesticated John Lennon just years before his sad assassination. Robinson describes how Patti Smith can go from performing on stage to rocking out in the audience. She questions why the iconic New York Dolls are still not in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And she candidly conveys Eminem’s journey from an angry young man known for his misogynistic, homophobic and violent lyrics to a thoughtful and inquisitive man who is fiercely protective of his daughter Hailie. Eminiem’s childhood was rough and he is determined to give Hailie everything he lacked.

I’m sure to some people will find There Goes Gravity filled with bragging and name-dropping, but so what. If it’s true, Robinson is not bragging. And as for the namedropping, well, don’t you talk about the people you deal with from work? Well, just as you might talk about Dave from Marketing or Becky from HR, Robinson talks about Joey Ramone from the Ramones or Tom Verlaine from Television.

While reading There Goes Gravity I was amazed how much information from the major to the tiniest moments Robinson was able to capture so much. Most of this was due to Robinson’s keeping and storing decades of tapes, notes and photographs.

There Goes Gravity is one of the most enlightening books I have ever read about rock and roll history and also one of the most fun, probably because Robinson never saw her vocation as a mere job, it was a calling. I am utterly grateful as a diehard music fan for Robinson catching decades of musical fabulousness. Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson, thank you from the bottom of my rock and roll heart.

Book Marks

turns-out-i-rock-the-houseOld School YA that should never go out of print.

Yes, Millennials can read something longer than a text message. And they might even read more than older generations.

I must have this t-shirt.

Are you back in school? Are you a parent of someone back in school? Do you just love books? Well, here are the perfect school supplies.

Very cool news for Dr. Seuss lovers. And did I ever tell you that the late, great Dr. Seuss and I share a birthday? I’m much younger (and still alive).

Writer’s Block

Writer's Block PhotoWell, it’s been one crazy week. We started a new project at work and had a bunch of ducks to get in a row before we could proceed with the project. I had a meeting after work Monday night. And tomorrow I start my work as a teaching assistant for my church’s religious education classes (I’m going to be working with 3rd and 4th graders).

And beyond the personal, this past week we observed the 13th anniversary of 9/11 (seems like yesterday, yet longer than 13 years). President Obama gave a speech on ISIS. We discussed Ray and Janay Rice and the complex and thorny issue of domestic abuse.

Apple released several new technological products, including the Apple Watch. Guardians of the Galaxy continues to dominate the box office. And a little girl was bummed because President and Mrs. Obama visited her school, not Beyonce.

And because I hate Sarah Palin with the fiery intensity of ten thousand suns, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off when I found out she and her family were involved in a huge brawl at a party. In fact this one of my reactions. And here is another:
Once again, I want to congratulate Lisa Brown for winning the This Is Where I Leave You giveaway and thank my readers for their participation in the giveaway. Speaking of This Is Where I Leave You, the movie’s star Jason Bateman showed up on David Letterman this past week. Here is a clip of Mr. Bateman discussing how his Kristy McNichol hair got him some tail. Millennials, ask your parents about Kristy McNichol.

And though insomnia sucks, I was able to catch a rerun of Charlie Rose featuring Jonathan Tropper, the author of This Is Where I Leave You, the film’s director, Shawn Levy, and two members of the cast, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. Sadly, at this moment Lord Google isn’t very helpful in finding me a clip. I’ll update once I find one.

Have a great week-end!

We Have a Winner!!!!

winnerI want to thank everyone who entered the giveaway. A winner has been chosen. And the winner is…

Lisa Brown!

Lisa’s favorite book turned movie is the Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen version of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice.

Congratulations Lisa! Courtesy of Warner Bros. you will receive One (1) $25.00 Visa gift card to use towards a viewing of This Is Where I Leave You in theaters and a copy of the book with a movie tie-in cover.

I enjoyed reading all of your comments, not just the names of your favorite books turned movies, but why both these books and movies mean so much to you. Movies and books are more than mindless entertainment; they are a part of who we are as human beings.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. You rock. And once again, Lisa, congratulations!

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

TIWILY-1SHTA few months ago I read a wonderful novel “This Is Were I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper. Now the film adaptation is being released by Warner Bros. on September 19th, 2014. Click below to take a look at the movie’s trailer.

And here is the official synopsis of the movie version of This Is Where I Leave You:

“When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.”

This Is Where I Leave You stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Jane Fonda

As a treat for my readers I have been contacted by film’s publicity team about hosting a giveaway to celebrate both the book and the release of the film. One lucky winner of this giveaway will win the following generously provided by Warner Bros.

One (1) $25.00 Visa gift card to use towards a viewing of This Is Where I Leave You in theaters and a copy of the book with a movie tie-in cover.

To enter you this giveaway you must do the following.

  1. Leave a comment at this very blog post starting today and ending Sunday, September 7th at 6:00pm central time.
  2. In the comment section you must type in your first name and last initial and name your favorite movie that was originally based on a book.
  3. Note: An email is required to post a comment and this giveaway is only open to those with United States addresses. Only one entree per email address please.

Once I get all of your comments I will put your names with your comments in a hat and pick out a name. I will announce the winner’s name on Tuesday, September 9th. The winner will be contacted via email regarding his or her address so he or she can receive this wonderful prize package.

I’m really looking forward to your comments, and no way will they affect my choosing of the winner. Your favorite book adapted movie can be a classic like “Gone With the Wind” or something more recent like the “Hunger Games” franchise. Or you can mention a guilty pleasure gem like “Valley of the Dolls.”

I know I loved the book This Is Where I Leave You” and I’m really looking forward to the movie, especially considering it boasts such a top-notch cast.

To learn more about This Is Where I Leave You,” both the book and the movie, take a look at any of the following links:

This Is Where I Leave You Official Website

This Is Where I Leave You Facebook Page

This is Where I Leave You Book Discussion Club