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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (517 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Will Hermes Narrator: Adam Verner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Punk rock and hip-hop, disco and salsa, the loft jazz scene and the downtown composers known as Minimalists—in the mid-1970s, New York City was a laboratory where all the major styles of modern music were reinvented, all at once, from one block to the next, by musicians who knew, admired, and borrowed from one another. Crime was everywhere, the government was broke, and the city’s infrastructure was collapsing; but rent was cheap, and the possibilities for musical exploration were limitless.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is the first book to tell the full story of the era’s music scenes and the phenomenal and surprising ways they intersected. From New Year’s Day 1973 to New Year’s Eve 1977, the book moves panoramically from post-Dylan Greenwich Village, to the arson-scarred South Bronx barrios where salsa and hip-hop were created, to the Lower Manhattan lofts where jazz and classical music were reimagined, to ramshackle clubs like CBGB and the Gallery, where rock and dance music were hot-wired for a new generation. As they remade the music, the musicians at the center of the book invented themselves: Willie Colón and the Fania All-Stars renting Yankee Stadium to take salsa to the masses, New Jersey locals Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith claiming the jungle land of Manhattan as their own, Grandmaster Flash transforming the turntable into a musical instrument, and David Byrne and Talking Heads proving that rock music “ain’t no foolin’ around.” Will Hermes was there—venturing from his native Queens to the small, dark rooms where the revolution was taking place—and in Love Goes to Buildings on Fire he captures the creativity, drive, and full-out lust for life of the great New York musicians of those years, who knew that the music they were making would change the world.   

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Quotes & Awards

  • Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is an almost perfect portrait of New York music culture: specific yet comprehensive, enthusiastic yet objective, and as informed as it is personal. The four-page section of what (seemingly) every interesting person in NYC was doing on the night of the ’77 blackout could have been a book unto itself.”

    Chuck Klosterman, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Meticulously researched and engaging.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Revelatory.”

    Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

  • “A detailed time-machine trip that zooms in on everyone from the New York Dolls to Steve Reich.”

    Rolling Stone

  • “Practically every paragraph about music here is also about something else just as fascinating—race, city planning, ambition, drugs, hairdos. Braiding intricate research with his own teenage memories, Hermes has a bird’s eye view of a great city and has his ear to the ground.” 

    Sarah Vowell, New York Times bestselling author

  • “By simply putting things in chronological order, Will Hermes shows just how astonishing New York City’s music was in the 1970s. But he does more than that: he brings depth and discernment and an eye for odd detail, making his book an essential work of cultural history.”

    Luc Sante, author of Low Life

  • “A must-read for any music lover, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire will no doubt inspire nostalgia in readers who lived through the era and make those who didn’t wish they had.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A fascinating book that covers not only the new rock music of the day but looks back at New York between 1973 and the end of 1977, a time when hip-hop was being birthed, salsa was finding its voice, the avant-garde scene was being heard, and the new loft jazz scene was being born.”

    NPR’s All Songs Considered

  • “As fun and insightful as that other 1970s NYC classic, Jonathan Mahler’s Bronx Is Burning.”

    Hugo Lindgren, New York Times Magazine

  • “I thought there was nothing left to say about the seventies NYC music scene, but Hermes puts it all together—punk, salsa, jazz, hip-hop, disco—into a portrait of a city in ferment, with new bubbles of innovation popping up all over.”

    Dan Kois, Vulture Recommends (New York magazine)

  • “[Hermes] does an expert turn here in his book about the music scene in 1970s New York, moving between musical genres and the human worlds they contained with the light-headed excitement of a bright grad student who’s transferring from one subway line to another.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “There’s no mistaking that this book will have a special appeal for people who were exposed to this music when it was developing—mostly those living in New York in the mid-70s—but Hermes does what a good writer does. He makes the rest of us (this writer included) wish we’d been there.”


  • “Hermes reminds us forcefully and refreshingly in this breathtaking, panoramic portrait of five years of that decade that music in New York City was alive, flourishing, and kicking out the jams.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A fantastic journey through New York’s 1970s underground music scene.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Music geeks will be well pleased, as no detail is left out of this meticulous day-by-day rendering…Seasoned narrator Adam Verner’s enthusiastic baritone jibes with the encyclopedic sweep of the text.”

    Library Journal (starred audio review)

  • “[Hermes] writes with scene-setting observational detail and provides contextual background to events and social movements taking place throughout New York as well as biographical observations from his own youth growing up in the city at that time…A well-written entry for the reader (and listener) to explore the musical styles and people of a fascinating era.”

    Library Journal

  • “Hermes’ attitude, sharp ear, and smart big-picture view turn what could have been a small book into something special. A hip, clever, informative look at an unjustifiably dismissed musical era that will have readers scouring iTunes for the perfect accompanying soundtrack.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • An NPR Best Music Book of 2011
  • A Slate Magazine Best Book of 2012: Staff Pick
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2011

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kathy | 1/12/2014

    " Love how it covers various music scenes happening at the same time but in different neighborhoods of NYC, just a little too comprehensive at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Fred | 1/2/2014

    " Really interesting history of all the music scenes in New York in the mid-70's, set against the background of what was happening in the city at the time (bankruptcy, blackout, etc.). The author covers jazz, punk, rock, dance, hip hop, disco, classical, and anything else that happened or grew out of the New York scene. It's filled with tidbits from interviews and from the author's personal experiences as a teen living through this era. Oh, to have been in his shoes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rupert | 12/20/2013

    " I can't rave enough about this book. It covers all types of music exploding in New York from 1973 to 1978. The city was falling apart, so rent and buildings were cheap and artists built from the ruins. Punk and New Wave was starting up, jazz musicians like Sam Rivers and Ornette Coleman were booking shows at their loft spaces, Kool Herc was scratching vinyl for the first time, the Latin scene was selling out Madison Square Garden and Philip Glass held a legendary first US staging of "Einstein on the Beach" and put himself $80,000 in debt. Hermes writes about each genre and all the genre mixing going on with passion and first person credibility. Reads like a great novel and will reward you with new knowledge even if you know this time and its music well. He also throws in short paragraphs of New York timeline history that help anchor the musical events. Best book on music I've read since Boyd's White Bicycle or Shelton's critical biography of Dylan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by LibraryVixen | 12/18/2013

    " a very comprehensive approach to 70s NYC scene, music, writing, art, poetry, dance, street life, etc. Tied much music history together for me. "

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