Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3)

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9780826417718: Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3)

"Music From Big Pink is a moving book that succeeds not just in vividly evoking its time and place but in distilling one young man's cliched and minor destiny into something approaching tragedy....This well-written first novel captures not just some of the dreams of that bygone era, but the way those dreams died."
-Greg Kamiya, The New York Times Book Review

Music From Big Pink is faction: real people like Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Bob Dylan and Albert Grossman rub shoulders with fictional characters and actual, documented events thread their way through text alongside imagined scenarios. Through the eyes of 23-year-old Greg Keltner, drug-dealer and wannabe musician, we witness the gestation and birth of a record that will go on to cast its spell across five decades - bewitching and inspiring artists as disparate as The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Travis, Wilco and Mercury Rev.

Booksellers contact reviews@continuum-books.com for a reading copy, while supplies last!

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About the Author:

John Niven graduated from Glasgow University in 1991 with a First Class Honours MA in English Literature. He toured and recorded as guitarist in The Wishing Stones - their sole LP Wildwood (Heavenly Records 1992) owes more a passing debt to the music of The Band - before becoming an A&R man and working with acts like Travis, Mogwai, and Sigur Ros. Over the years he has written about music, film and sport for publications like Word, FHM, Socialism, The Herb Garden and Mixmag. In 2003 he sold his first screenplay and co-wrote and directed the award winning short film 'Tethered' (British Film Council/Frozen Tundra Films.)

Review:

Music from Big Pink is a book to awaken a deeper appreciation of The Band's sweet poetry. The book has a powerful style of its own and a story that might illuminate an entire period. It is a piece of writing that will be admired by anyone who's interested in the era that made our own, and those who read it are unlikely to forget its cool Updikean temperament. (Andrew O'Hagan, author of Our Fathers and Personality)

'Publisher Continuum has produced a startling series of monographs on some of the greatest rock albums...There is a lovely coming of age story here, wrapped aroung the album in an oddly parasitic manner.' (Scotland On Sunday)

'As evocative as it is gripping.' (Observer)

"...fans of the Bandshould grab a copy of John Niven's new Musicfrom Big Pink, part of Continuum's 33-1/3 series, to see how evocativelyfact and fiction can be married."- ProvidencePhoenix, January 2006

'...Like the album itself, Niven's story accupies that 60s fault line where hedonism and optimism turn to failure and melancholy...Niven's beautifu lly tragic mini-novel crawls inside the lonesome core of this one-off album, penning a heart-broken postcard from a past he never knew.' (Andrew Male Mojo)

Music From Big Pink is a moving book that succeeds not justin vividly evoking its time and place but in distilling one young man'scliched and minor destiny into something approaching tragedy.... This well-written first novel captures not just some of the dreams of that bygone era, but the way those dreams died. (Gary Kamiya The New York Times Book Review)

The Band's 1968 debut album Music From Big Pink is the veritable Ur-text of Rock Snobbery, an artefact so definitive only the brave and deluded would even approach it (and they did). It inspired Greil Marcus - if not the Dean of Rock certainly a man with a wood-panelled office - to write Mystery Train, his first and maybe finest tome. This set of songs, cooked up in a rented house in bucolic Woodstock, New York, during breaks from their regular employer Bob Dylan, landed in the Swinging Sixties like a time capsule unearthed from the previous century. It was taupe in a Technicolor age, organic not synthetic, inhabited by the ghosts of an America which predated sound recording.
It was also fake, a work of smart artifice. Drummer Levon Helm apart, the Band were Canadian lads healthily fixated on songs previously presumed lost, and unearthed by archivists like Harry Smith and Alan Lomax. Although they toyed with names like the Crackers (way off the mark) or the more accurate Honkies, their drab monicker captured perfectly their undeniable precision. Dylan's first movie might have been called Don't Look Back, but his backing musicians started the trend for nostalgia. There's an argument that American rock music has yet to recover from 1968. Its dress sense certainly hasn't.
But writing anything new about this lovable cultural millstone is problematic. So as his contribution to Continuum's well-received 33 1/3 series of little books on big albums, John Niven has penned a novella inspired by the era's events. The narrator, Greg Keltner, a none-too-bright Canadian drug-dealer, moves in high and low places. He scores in the city then services the musicians of Woodstock, as the anonymous town chosen by Dylan as a bolthole rapidly becomes a hippy mecca. The temporarily connected Greg sneers at the rubes and hangs out with a cast of characters that includes an entire line-up of Sixties stars, a few of them still with us.
It's a great gimmick. Passing celebs such as a taciturn Dylan, his creepily controlling manager Albert Grossman, and a hilarious, speed-addled Lou Reed, conform to every biographical description of them ever printed. Boon companions include the party-hearty bassist Rick Danko and the unfortunate Richard Manuel, whose quavering voice anchored the Band's best music and whose 1986 suicide opens the book, setting obese junkie Greg to reminiscing. Robbie Robertson, Band leader and guitarist, is described merely as cold, ie in control. (It took Hollywood to bring him low, according to Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.)
Niven is no stylist, though. Although he certainly knows how musicians talk - he worked in the record business for years - there are some stilted conversations captured here. (Being kind, he may just be mocking the meetings of the starstruck and the talent.) The obligatory femme fatale, about as convincing as one of Dylan's idealised subjects, even bears the gloriously absurd name Skye Grey. Greg's florid attempts to describe events of years past make this a strong argument against the use of narcotics, but they're hard to read without squirming.The schematic structure of the book, each incident ticked off as the narrative moves forward, is surely more obvious than the author intended, and interferes with a convincing description of an aimless life. A melodramatic funeral scene stretches the reader's credulity and the use of historical events to delineate time is corny at best. (Did regional television stations really hold a vigil for Andy Warhol after his shooting by Valerie Solanas? I doubt it.)

But there are compensations. The narrative drive is irresistible, while set-pieces such as a night tripping at the flicks with a chick, or eviction from a party on Dylan's orders, convey public embarrassment (or its absence) beautifully. All such analyses of individual records are exercises in nostalgia to some extent, so why shouldn't the shaky voice of a fitfully imagined middle-aged man with no future and only hazy memories of a worthwhile past represent them all? This may be no more than the literary equivalent of a promising demo tape, but it is certainly distinct. Well done to Niven for giving a voice to the sleazy foot soldiers of rock'n'roll. They also serve who stand on weight.

(Steve Jelbert Independent, The)

"Niven... delivers one of the more ambitious and lengthy books in the series, writing about The Band's extraordinary first album in the form of a novella.... Through his eyes we see a fictionalized but historically-rooted account of what it was like to be in or around The Band in 1968. The novella describes the circumstances of the album's creation and its sound, but is more than an oblique work of criticism. It is itself, like its subject, a grand work of art." -Ukula Magazine, Spring 2006



'This identically-titled novella, or smaller novel, part of an imaginative, unique series called "33 3/1", from Continuum Books, is just as solid, thought provoking and interesting as the album that inspired it.'Mark Gould, Sound Waves Magazine (Mark T Gould)

Quote from Mark Gould, Sound Waves Magazine, 'This series is an absolutely brilliant idea'

“...fans of the Bandshould grab a copy of John Niven’s new Musicfrom Big Pink, part of Continuum’s 33-1/3 series, to see how evocativelyfact and fiction can be married.”- ProvidencePhoenix, January 2006

Music From Big Pink is a moving book that succeeds not justin vividly evoking its time and place but in distilling one young man'scliched and minor destiny into something approaching tragedy.... This well-written first novel captures not just some of the dreams of that bygone era, but the way those dreams died. (Sanford Lakoff The New York Times Book Review)

The Band's 1968 debut album Music From Big Pink is the veritable Ur-text of Rock Snobbery, an artefact so definitive only the brave and deluded would even approach it (and they did). It inspired Greil Marcus - if not the Dean of Rock certainly a man with a wood-panelled office - to write Mystery Train, his first and maybe finest tome. This set of songs, cooked up in a rented house in bucolic Woodstock, New York, during breaks from their regular employer Bob Dylan, landed in the Swinging Sixties like a time capsule unearthed from the previous century. It was taupe in a Technicolor age, organic not synthetic, inhabited by the ghosts of an America which predated sound recording.
It was also fake, a work of smart artifice. Drummer Levon Helm apart, the Band were Canadian lads healthily fixated on songs previously presumed lost, and unearthed by archivists like Harry Smith and Alan Lomax. Although they toyed with names like the Crackers (way off the mark) or the more accurate Honkies, their drab monicker captured perfectly their undeniable precision. Dylan's first movie might have been called Don't Look Back, but his backing musicians started the trend for nostalgia. There's an argument that American rock music has yet to recover from 1968. Its dress sense certainly hasn't.
But writing anything new about this lovable cultural millstone is problematic. So as his contribution to Continuum's well-received 33 1/3 series of little books on big albums, John Niven has penned a novella inspired by the era's events. The narrator, Greg Keltner, a none-too-bright Canadian drug-dealer, moves in high and low places. He scores in the city then services the musicians of Woodstock, as the anonymous town chosen by Dylan as a bolthole rapidly becomes a hippy mecca. The temporarily connected Greg sneers at the rubes and hangs out with a cast of characters that includes an entire line-up of Sixties stars, a few of them still with us.
It's a great gimmick. Passing celebs such as a taciturn Dylan, his creepily controlling manager Albert Grossman, and a hilarious, speed-addled Lou Reed, conform to every biographical description of them ever printed. Boon companions include the party-hearty bassist Rick Danko and the unfortunate Richard Manuel, whose quavering voice anchored the Band's best music and whose 1986 suicide opens the book, setting obese junkie Greg to reminiscing. Robbie Robertson, Band leader and guitarist, is described merely as cold, ie in control. (It took Hollywood to bring him low, according to Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.)
Niven is no stylist, though. Although he certainly knows how musicians talk - he worked in the record business for years - there are some stilted conversations captured here. (Being kind, he may just be mocking the meetings of the starstruck and the talent.) The obligatory femme fatale, about as convincing as one of Dylan's idealised subjects, even bears the gloriously absurd name Skye Grey. Greg's florid attempts to describe events of years past make this a strong argument against the use of narcotics, but they're hard to read without squirming.The schematic structure of the book, each incident ticked off as the narrative moves forward, is surely more obvious than the author intended, and interferes with a convincing description of an aimless life. A melodramatic funeral scene stretches the reader's credulity and the use of historical events to delineate time is corny at best. (Did regional television stations really hold a vigil for Andy Warhol after his shooting by Valerie Solanas? I doubt it.)

But there are compensations. The narrative drive is irresistible, while set-pieces such as a night tripping at the flicks with a chick, or eviction from a party on Dylan's orders, convey public embarrassment (or its absence) beautifully. All such analyses of individual records are exercises in nostalgia to some extent, so why shouldn't the shaky voice of a fitfully imagined middle-aged man with no future and only hazy memories of a worthwhile past represent them all? This may be no more than the literary equivalent of a promising demo tape, but it is certainly distinct. Well done to Niven for giving a voice to the sleazy foot soldiers of rock'n'roll. They also serve who stand on weight.

(Sanford Lakoff Independent, The)

Ukula Magazine, Spring 2006



'This identically-titled novella, or smaller novel, part of an imaginative, unique series called "33 3/1", from Continuum Books, is just as solid, thought provoking and interesting as the album that inspired it.'Mark Gould, Sound Waves Magazine (Sanford Lakoff)

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Descrizione libro Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Music From Big Pink is a factional novella: a place where fictional characters rub shoulders with real people, and where actual documented events thread their way through the text alongside imagined scenarios. Through the eyes of twenty-three-year-old Greg Keltner, drug dealer, wannabe musician, and hanger-on, we witness the gestation and birth of an album that will go on to cast its spell across forty years. John Niven brings these characters to life with remarkable skill, and the result is an exhilarating, vivid, and powerfully moving book about the highs - and lows - of creating musical history. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780826417718

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Descrizione libro Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Music From Big Pink is a factional novella: a place where fictional characters rub shoulders with real people, and where actual documented events thread their way through the text alongside imagined scenarios. Through the eyes of twenty-three-year-old Greg Keltner, drug dealer, wannabe musician, and hanger-on, we witness the gestation and birth of an album that will go on to cast its spell across forty years. John Niven brings these characters to life with remarkable skill, and the result is an exhilarating, vivid, and powerfully moving book about the highs - and lows - of creating musical history. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780826417718

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Descrizione libro Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Music From Big Pink is a factional novella: a place where fictional characters rub shoulders with real people, and where actual documented events thread their way through the text alongside imagined scenarios. Through the eyes of twenty-three-year-old Greg Keltner, drug dealer, wannabe musician, and hanger-on, we witness the gestation and birth of an album that will go on to cast its spell across forty years. John Niven brings these characters to life with remarkable skill, and the result is an exhilarating, vivid, and powerfully moving book about the highs - and lows - of creating musical history. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780826417718

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Descrizione libro Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Paperback. "Music From Big Pink is a moving book that succeeds not just in vividly evoking its time and place but in distilling one young man's cliched and minor destiny into something appr.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 160 pages. 0.154. Codice libro della libreria 9780826417718

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