Pick Up the Pieces
Excursions in Seventies Music
by John Corbett
Pub Date 01 Mar 2019
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Rock. Disco. Pop. Soul. Jazz. Folk. Funk. The music scene of the 1970s was as varied as it was exhilarating, but the decade’s diversity of sound has never been captured in one book before now. Pick Up the Pieces gives a panoramic view of the era’s music and culture through seventy-eight essays that allow readers to dip in and out of the decade at random or immerse themselves completely in Corbett’s chronological journey.
An inviting mix of skilled music criticism and cultural observation, Pick Up the Pieces is also a coming-of-age story, tracking the author’s absorption in music as he grows from age seven to seventeen. Along with entertaining personal observations and stories, Corbett includes little-known insights into musicians from Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, and Fleetwood Mac to the Residents, Devo, Gal Costa, and Julius Hemphill.
A master DJ on the page, Corbett takes us through the curated playlist that is Pick Up the Pieces with captivating melody of language and powerful enthusiasm for the era. This funny, energetic book will have readers longing nostalgically for a decade long past.
"Just as a rich gumbo benefits from the perfect combination of diverse ingredients, so does Corbett’s analysis and so do the 1970s songs and performances he examines. . . . Corbett is in the upper echelon of music criticism."
“Corbett is the Carl Sagan of vinyl. Funny and irreverent, he’s voyaged across the stars and the human imagination to bring us music both ‘pathetic and sublime’ from that most misunderstood of decades, the 1970s.”
Neneh Cherry, singer
“This book is a gift and a joy! My own life storycomprised a tapestry of tracks that felt just like this, a mind-map of music. Corbett’s journey through the universe of each song is detailed, deep, and soulful.”
Lars Iyer, philosopher and author of Wittgenstein Jr. and the trilogy Spurious, Dogma, and Exodus.
“This is a love cry. A cornucopia of zappy chapters, dedicated to the question as to what ‘70s music means. Deliciously nonpartisan, curious, open-eared, Corbett honors cross-pollinating musical fusions in a fleet, polymorphous prose that wears great knowledge lightly. There are bits of memoir here—but no dull autobiographical trudge. There are famous names—but deep obscurants, too. Above all: no yawnsome retreads of ye olde rock lore. It helps that Corbett’s right about everything. Pick Up the Pieces is another gem in a maverick diadem.”
Arto Lindsay, former guitarist for DNA
“They say that real edge never grows old. Steering back and forth between sexual and musical first times—best times!—Corbett does justice to all sorts of intensity.”
Gregg Bordowitz, artist and author of Tenement and Volition
“‘Time takes a cigarette and puts it in your mouth’—Bowie croons, addressing a weary soul at the start of ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide.’ The singer/prophet/alien holds out a hand to pick YOU up. Listen! Exalt! And like a fellow space commuter, Corbett clocks the tunes and throws out lines to the untethered. Dear reader, forget your age. The ‘seventies’ is an abstract pattern. Doesn’t matter if you were an adult, a teenager, a tot, or not yet conceived in that decade, turn-on with Corbett in this one.”