Talk about a case of be careful what you ask for, because you might get it. I complained about a non-fiction book I recently reviewed, saying that it ran wild with unverified facts and the author’s opinions substituted for historical truth. Well, those are not among the faults to be found in Andrew Grant Jackson’s new book “1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music.” Whether it has other faults depends upon how seriously a reader takes the subject of popular music. This book is footnoted and indexed. It also contains the best four-page summary of the Vietnam War I have ever read. If you are a music freak with a love of rock music and the soul of a librarian you will enjoy Jackson’s work. For those who hated school and couldn’t wait to escape back to the stereo in their bedroom or to the garage band practice space, I’d say check out something else.
I admit to bias on this question. I’m one of the garage band kids. But they gave me this book to review, and I’m going to review it. I also enjoy the study of history, and as I said, the author’s non-musical thumbnail sketches of events like Vietnam are excellent. I won’t argue about Jackson’s ‘Most Revolutionary’ subtitle, either. I could, and if I did, I’d use one of those 1950’s years that contained Little Richard, Wanda Jackson, Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis all making music at the same time. But the year 1965 included Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” and that song by itself brings a lot of weight to the argument. Besides, if you’re talking decades instead of years, the 1960’s wins the revolutionary award hands down, and ‘65 is as good a year to select from it as any.
“1965” is well-written and packed with information. It will help you in your next ‘best of’ argument with a fellow music geek. You know: who’s the best band, best guitarist, best vocalist. I’d look forward to a future book from Mr Jackson titled “Most Revolutionary Performer”. My vote would go to Little Richard, with runner-ups Elvis, David Bowie, and Lou Reed. I say this to encourage Mr Jackson. But lighten up a little next time around.
(Host of The Haunted Cabaret on RI Free Radio)
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