IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Lyrics and Lyricists, 1955-74 by Bruce Pollock

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Lyrics and Lyricists, 1955-74

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An ensemble of interviews with contemporary songwriters/performers, Pollock's ""history, autobiography, textbook, oral report, song of praise"" is more in tune than most such Elvis-to-Elton appreciations of the rock 'n' roll era. With an obligatory tribute to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly (this rather simplistic music really has by now been ""analyzed"" to death) Pollock moves to Newport Festival days when Phil Ochs served ""as a sort of town crier"" delivering his broadsides at every protest rally and peace march that came down the road, then on to the peak period of the mid-1960's when Frank Zappa shocked and screeched his way through Brown Shoes Don't Make It while the Jefferson Airplane was getting higher and higher on mushrooms and the Grateful Dead were truckin' at love-ins and be-ins on the Haight. Pollock dubs the early '70's a time of ""Retreat and Cease Fire"" and it's clear that despite such anomalies as the morose and brilliant Randy Newman, he believes it to be a musically lesser era. Smiling complacency in the person of John Denver and Melanie has replaced the passion of Janis Joplin; Bob Dylan has gone on ""an extended vacation."" True, sex has gone kinky -- viz., Alice Cooper and David Bowie. But is this what the Revolution was all about? Dressing up in each other's clothes? Pollock ends on an ambivalent note. Perhaps the trend to deca/rock -- ""the new degeneracy asserting itself"" -- proves that there's still iconoclastic life in Mother Rock. But where to next? Back to Johnny Mathis?

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Publisher: Macmillan