Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever” as Want to Read:
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,172 ratings  ·  149 reviews
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 t ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Faber & Faber
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Love Goes to Buildings on Fire

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
"Love Goes to Buildings On Fire" is not only one of my favorite songs by Talking Heads, but it's also a very warm and fascinating book by Will Hermes. Focusing on the years 1973 to 1977, in New York City, is a combination social history and a love message to the artists of that era - who really defined NYC as a creative force. A place that touched greatness from George Maciunas (one of the founders of Fluxus) to Patti Smith to Grandmaster Flash to New York Dolls to Philip Glass to Richard Hell t ...more
Ed Wagemann
There hasn't been much in American culture to get excited about since the 1970s. The cable tv revolution and gadget boom of the 1980s might have been interesting for a minute. Grunge in the 1990s became boring quickly. Rap is crap. The prescription drug craze, the tech boom, talk radio, all pretty much pale in comparison to the culture that was produced in the 1970s. The '70s had it all, from streakers to wife-swapping swingers and Morgana the kissing bandit to bra-burners and draft-dodgers to C ...more
Gus Sanchez
New York City, mid-1970's. The whole place is falling apart. Crime is rampant, the city teeters on complete financial bankruptcy. Things just aren't looking good for the Big Apple. Yet from the state of emergency comes a phenomenally vibrant and highly influential wave of music whose influence still resonates today. The punk scene that emerged from CBGB's; the explosion of Latin music as performed by the Fania All-Stars; experimental forays into jazz and classical music; the emergence of disco f ...more
John Norman
This book covers a period of amazing musical experimentation in NYC - punk, jazz, disco, "latin" - a lot was going on, and there was a good deal of cross-pollination between these genres.

Hermes tells a lot of stories -- many I knew, some that I didn't. The ones that were new to me were valuable and provocative.

I think the most valuable part is the account of the rise of Latin / Cuban music, though it gets repetitive towards the end.

Having said all that, I really can't recommend the book. The pr
fairly good and entertaining re-cap of music in nyc in 1973-1977. the punk and rock portions won't reveal anything new to the punks out there, but the parts on loft scene and latin/salsa worlds are very nice, and steve reich and glass, and those dudes, and laurie anderson, those parts are interesting to me because i didn't know much about that. and the dj's too, herc, and siano. plus all the bars and clubs and storefronts, and parks and youth centers and lofts and theaters where music was heard ...more
This is definitely the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a while, maybe not the best, though it is really good. The book is a kaleidoscopic social history of New York during its darkest years in the supposedly musically fallow seventies. So much of my favorite music bubbled under the surface in the seventies I always forget that it really was pretty awful time for popular music (as a quick listen to a current day oldies or classic rock station will show). Hermes travels similar ground to other ...more
Frank Jude
Will Hermes’ Love Goes To Buildings On Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever is one of the most ambitious works on popular culture that I have ever read. Perhaps the most ambitious in that is surveys the radically creative hotbed of New York City in the 1970s (specifically the years from 1973 through 1977) meshing sociology, cultural analysis, and music history into a fascinating tale that those of us who lived through it, as well as those for whom this is history, will find ex ...more
Robert Boyd
The conceit of this book is a bit strange--that five years in New York City (1973 to 1977) were unbelievably creative years in all musical genres. But he works hard to prove it, writing about the pre-history of hip hop, the rise of punk, the maturation and peak of salsa, the "loft jazz" scene, the origin and rise of disco, the triumph of minimalism, and the emergence of particular musical artists like Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. The thing is, so many of these things were unrelated--hip ho ...more
New York in the mid to late 70s was one of the most creatively active and diverse periods in American history, and it's probably the number one destination for my time machine To Do list. So I expected to really love this book, but it lacks strong narrative and is an uninspired read. It's hard to say how much of that is due to the writer, because it's a necessarily overwhelming period to cover. I did find that his musical descriptions were not helpful, and I ended up skipping sections on genres ...more
Noriyuko 'Pat'
This could have been a beautiful book, I think, if Hermes had followed his muse a bit more faithfully and written an autobiography of his life as a lover of great music. Instead, those terrific self-referential moments depicting Hermes as Queens-born-and-bred nerd with a great ear open to everything from Led Zeppelin to Willie Colon to Terry Riley to the Talking Heads were few and far between. The bulk of the book is essentially a report on / collage of other people’s writings on New York music ...more
I didn't finish this one. I was looking forward to reading (or listening to) this one because the 70s in New York seemed to be the perfect time and place for interesting innovative music. It was an exciting time in the arts.

Unfortunately, this book read a bit like a wikipedia article and somehow squashed the excitement of the music scene. It took effort to pay attention. Maybe it's that I already read Patti Smith's Just Kids, so I know how well the story can be told.

I'm convinced that Will Her
Joe Drape
Very readable and insightful snapshot of the New York music scene in the 1970s. Hermes shows how punk, salsa, hip-hop and good old rock n roll were taking flight in dive music bars across the city. Great portraits of Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads in their formative years. I'm a casual music enthusiasts and this held my attention. Really enjoyed it.
Brian Gruber
Essentially a long, largely chronological list of facts about musicians in New York in the time period, occasionally interrupted by personal, memoir-style anecdotes and bits about music journalism. There seems to be some hope that the sheer mass of information will cause a larger statement to emerge, but it never really does.

Given the way I responded to the coverage of punk, new wave and hip hop (the histories of which I'm already familiar with in this period) versus the coverage of jazz, disco
Richard Kearney
Often fascinating, sometimes frustrating, Will Hermes' "Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever" offers a chronicle of several important music scenes in New York City during the mid-1970s (1973-1977, to be exact). Organized into five chapters, each covering a single year, Hermes discusses New York rock'n'roll, punk. salsa, jazz, classical, disco, and hip-hop through a selective focus on key figures and locales.

A Queens kid too young to witness most of th
LK Hunsaker
May 23, 2012 LK Hunsaker added it
Shelves: abandoned
I think I have to give up on this one.

Okay, I love music of many genres and since my series starts in 1974 and revolves around music, I thought this would be a great way to plunge myself into the atmosphere and pick up hints and research. I've been reading it off and on for quite some time now. Yesterday I hit page 66 and my brain screamed, "I just can't go on with this!"

There are facts galore, bands galore, drugs galore, crimes, misdemeanors, political throw-ins... but it's not a story. It's no
Tim Niland
Many books and articles have been written about the music scene of the 1960's and then the punk scene of the late 1970's, but in music history, the mid-1970's have been something of a lost era, snubbed by critics as a time of vapid pop and pretentious progressive rock and jazz fusion. Will Hermes looks to set the record straight by focusing on the vibrant music scene in New York City during the years 1973-1977. Taking a wide angle view from rock to jazz, salsa and disco, Hermes shows that in New ...more
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 ...more
Being a fan of music, I have always sough out new (to my ears) and different music to listen to. I love all types of music and will give everything a listen from the simplest straight up pop song to complex free jazz, experimental noise that I don't understand to just something with a good beat as well as songs in a language I don't understand. This books takes five years out of the New York music scene from 1973 to 1977 and shares the story of the beginnings of salsa and hip hop, supposedly the ...more
I could charitably attribute the scattershot presentation to an attempt at emulating Walter Benjamin's "constellations" method, but Hermes ain't no Benjamin, and it reads like the ramblings of someone with untreated ADHD. The book is most interesting when it contradicts its own basic theses and allows itself the development of context and perspective--which is too rare. Worth checking out from the library so that one can photocopy its 6-page discography and 22-page index, and use them as resourc ...more
I loved this look back at the music scene in NYC back in the 70's. Hermes not only touches upon the prevailing movements in music (rock, punk, salsa, disco, classical, jazz, hip-hop), but also the impact that events had on those various scenes. From blackouts to drug shortages, shifting political leaders and box office releases, music was effected and changed. I also thought it was cool how Hermes illustrated the connectivity of the various schools of music. For example, the conga player from a ...more
Although I ate this up, I can't imagine too many others will. A long, long list of facts, trivia, and history about tons of great music and bands. Surprisingly little theme-making or any larger unifying thread runs through all the disparate music discussed. I think Hermes' point is supposed to be about some intangible magic of New York in the 70s -- but he never really makes the point and besides, I can't go for that.
I was pretty familiar with New York rock and punk, but reading about that music in the context of what was going on in the jazz, classical, Latin, dance, and rap scenes was a revelation. Without having relevant frames of reference for a lot of this stuff did make the book overwhelming at times -- that and the fact that there's just so much information means I'll probably forget most of what I just read.

But Hermes does, in his way, manage to conjure place and time in a way that's pretty invigorat
One of those books that fulfills every expectation (and even more, to a certain extent). Will Hermes chronicles five years of New York music history informed by at least thirty years of previous musical innovation. Just looking at the book's cover is intriguing. Designed by Mark Alan Stamaty, the images consists of a cluttered, cartoonized Manhattan cityscape rife with people and events that happened between 1973-77, most of all caricatures of notorious 1970s performers from each genre covered i ...more
David Goldman
A solid, entertaining, informative, and breezy history of the NYC music scene from 73-77. The book's informal, chatty style invites comparisons with "Please Kill Me." In some ways Love Goes is narrower (just NYC) and broader covering jazz, disco, hip-hop, latin, minimalist composition along with the CBGB's rock scene. This breadth helps put the music in context with the culture of the times and book does a decent job of setting the mood in NYC. But the book sometimes is thin - covering too many ...more
Jacob Wren
As I was reading this, from time to time I would wonder if forty years from now anyone could or would write a similar book about music being made (somewhere in the world) right now. For some reason I find it almost impossible to imagine.
Jerry Kirk
An excellent book about the 1970's music scene in NYC when punk, hip-hop, avant garde jazz, disco and minimalist composers were evolving, converging and eventually exploding out of the city and into the conscious of music lovers around the world. In addition... because everything was influencing everything in... scenes like the graffiti movement are explored. This was a fascinating and revolutionary time in art and this book examines it with exacting detail. I highly recommend it for anyone who ...more
Hugo Falque
Patti Smith, Springsteen, Dylan, Thunders, les Dolls, Hell, Television, Mapplethorpe, les Dictators, les Talking Heads, Blondie, les Ramones, ont tous un jour fréquenté le même club de 150 personnes. Sans négliger le Jazz et la Soul de Philly qui vibrent à Manhattan à la même époque, c'est bien cette histoire là qui, comme celle des évangiles, doit être dite encore et encore par ceux qui l'ont vécue. Authentique journaliste, lointain spectateur du Queens, Hermes chronique scolairement mais très ...more
To call myself a music fan and to even have some of my favourite bands come from the 70s - a la Faces, Pink Floyd et al - but to have minimal knowledge about the thriving and diverse NYC 1970s scene is probably a bit embarrassing. But not anymore! After reading this I'm probably a guru on the era. Come on, ask me anything...

Though the paragraphs do not flow or connect in any way in which they should in a book, the anecdotes are incredibly charming and are easily consumable for people with short
Most rock histories would have you believe that between the 60’s hippies and the 70’s punks there was nothing - a musical desert punctuated only by the brief oasis of glam rock. Well we now all know that to be not true, there was much to admire after the Woodstock hangover and before the UK anarchy

Rolling Stone correspondent Will Hermes believes he’s located one of its main musical wellsprings - New York 1974 to 1978. A dizzying kaleidoscope of music and culture that it seems stupefying it all t
This was a very strange and ultimately disappointing "book," if it can even be labeled as such. The narrative is constructed almost entirely chronologically, with an almost complete absence of style or authorial presence. The author pops up very occasionally to remember what he was doing on certain dates, but it's mostly a series of short sections about what was happening on the New York music scene between 1973 and 1977. I suppose the author might say that the events are self-explanatory and th ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music
  • Totally Wired: Post Punk Interviews And Overviews
  • I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp
  • Fear of Music
  • Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992
  • The Chitlin' Circuit: And the Road to Rock 'n' Roll
  • Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992
  • Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes, and The Sound Of Los Angeles
  • Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in the Seventies
  • Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco
  • How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music
  • Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World
  • How Soon Is Now? The Madmen & Mavericks Who Made Independent Music (1975-2005)
  • Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
  • Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music
  • A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America
  • Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
  • Punk Rock: An Oral History
Hi there. I write about music and popular culture for Rolling Stone, The New York Times and other outlets, and am a regular contributor to National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." I co-edited "SPIN: 20 Years of Alternative Music" with my pal Sia Michel.
More about Will Hermes...
Spin: 20 Years of Alternative Music: Original Writing on Rock, Hip-Hop, Techno, and Beyond Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever New York 1973-1977. I cinque anni che hanno rivoluzionato la musica

Share This Book