The life that Jann Wenner lives is a caricature of the Baby Boomer generation: hope and idealism in the ‘60s fostered by pot, LSD, and the Beatles. Then cynicism in the ‘70s in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. The ‘80s brought cocaine and the lure of easy money on Wall Street. Then booze and glamorous vacations in the ‘90s and beyond.
Joe Hagan gives all that in Sticky Fingers, along with fabulous tales of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe, Annie Leibovitz, John and Yoko, Mick Jagger, and a cast of A-list celebrities. One thing that’s missing is any sense of an interior life. You get the sense Jann Wenner doesn’t have one. And you might be right.
A bio of Jann’s long-suffering wife Jane might have the gossip and glitz plus some actual emotion. Would be interesting to find out.
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Entertaining study of the people who collect extremely rare records: who they are, how they do their collecting, what motivates them, and of course the music itself. The book is part history, part sociology, part psychology, and part music criticism.
Petrusich explored a broad range of sources – human, textual, and musical – for the book. She even learned scuba diving to explore the Milwaukee River near the site of a historic record factory (Paramount) where employees allegedly dumped records and cylinders in the 1930s.
While the cast of characters is colorful and entertaining, the music is what the book is ultimately about. The gospel recordings, the country blues – artifacts of what Greil Marcus called the old, weird America. Highly recommended.