Will Hermes, senior critic at Rolling Stone, takes a panoramic snapshot of New York City music from 1973-1977 and applies a microscope to it in his first music history book Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever. The city was awash with musical creativity during the oft-overlooked mid-seventies. Kool Herc was turning his block party DJ act into something akin to hip-hop. Phillip Glass was hosting hours-long minimalist concerts in Yoko Ono’s loft space. The audacious, cross-dressing New York Dolls were inspiring legions of neighborhood rockers, including Jeffry Hyman of The Ramones and Patti Smith.
The writing in Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is typical of music reviewers and rock historians; it’s the meandering route that Hermes takes that makes this book unique. He constantly cruises in and out of different anecdotes to emphasize the immediacy of the musical melds occurring throughout the city. Omaha music patrons will appreciate the synchronicity and small town-ness of the New York scene at that time. This book is for those of us obsessed with the working lives of musicians and the forces that shape their songs.