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Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  1,318 Ratings  ·  267 Reviews
How do you land a sweet six-figure marketing gig at the hallowed record label known for having signed everyone from Led Zeppelin to Stone Temple Pilots? You start with a resume like Dan Kennedy's:

• Dressed up as a member of Kiss every Halloween
• Memorized Led Zeppelin IV at age ten
• Fronted a lip-sync band in junior high
• Worked as a college DJ while he was a college d
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 20, 2008 David rated it it was ok
A part of me is amazed this "book" even got published, but then I remind myself that books about inspecting your own excrement get published, as do little business fables involving rodents and hyperkinetic dairy products. Not only that, but people buy them in large numbers. So who's to fault Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for choosing to roll the dice on this one?

Oh, what the hell, I'll step forward and chastise them. If there was ever a book that really had no need to be published, it's this on
Mar 31, 2008 Jesse rated it liked it
Irritating. Kennedy got a job at Atlantic Records in 2001 or so, and the place was most definitely not rockin'. He works there 18 months, then gets let go when it gets bought out. Some good stories about office etiquette (great bit about how hard it is to talk to bosses' dogs with the correct marriage of friendliness and formality), but the whole attitude is really problematic: it's like he's too cool to really want to do a good job, so he has to mock the place; but of course that sort of irony ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Kelly rated it did not like it
I kind of hate that all my Goodreads reviews lately are "OMG WHITE GUYS, WHY ARE YOU SUCH ... WHITE GUYS?" but, well, here we are.

Katie warned me that I might not like this book because I have severe embarrassment squick. There were a few times when I was embarrassed for Dan Kennedy, but generally my embarrassment was obscured by my blinding white hatred. Seriously. I hate Dan Kennedy after reading this book. I might not be able to listen to The Moth anymore, because the tag at the end of every
Joel Neff
Apr 16, 2008 Joel Neff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aging rock stars.
Rock On: An office power ballad by Dan Kennedy is an unapologetic Gen-X book about the author's experiences inside a corporate record label that straddles the line between memoir and novel. It is wry, sarcastic, neurotic and self-referential in all the ways that we (as gen-exers and post gen-exers) have come to love in our media. There are lists and side notes on fake bands and real bands and almost-were artists and have-been artists, not to mention the casual references to real public figures ...more
Jun 23, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
a lovely girl in a white hat sent me a copy of this book with a note that said, this will make you wet your pants. and not only is this book hilarious but it is that perfect evocation of my generation that grew up staring at the walls in our bedrooms. i remember listening to tonight's the night by neil young on vinyl, which i slid out from my brothers collection and carried back to my room, dropped the needle, shut the door, and watched the light in a square from the window travel down the wall ...more
Nov 11, 2012 Garett rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Probably 2.5 stars. I liked the first chapter, and the lesson, more or less, that even if your parents encourage your passion, it is still up to you and your own drive. I am sure I'm not the only one to have ever thought I would really excelled in some field or other, if only my parents had nurtured my interest. The chapter drives home that this isn't really a fair burden to put on our parents.

From there, the book becomes a little less insightful and kind of dwells on the insecurities of a recor
Mar 24, 2008 Tommy_again rated it it was amazing
Hipster lit types will know from his work at that Kennedy is first and foremost an absurdist. Secondly, a sort of Morrissey-meets-Sedaris type who spins miserablism into keen observation and laughs for the shoe-gazer set. This is bliss for some and a little bit like being drugged then robbed for others. One shouldn't enter into "Rock On" expecting a top-level executive shake down of the music industry. Instead plan to feel a bit like meeting a tortured and semi-neurotic everyman ...more
Mister Mank
Apr 29, 2008 Mister Mank rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Music nerds, Humorists, Record store clerks, Musicians
A HILARIOUS account of the dying record industry. An absolute must for music nerds, especially those who grew up buying vinyl. Part music love story, part scathing criticism. Kennedy is a very funny writer -- I laughed aloud -- but he's also well-informed about music. His passion shows. Knowledge of pop/rock music history is helpful, but not really necessary. Kennedy's heightened self-awareness, self-loathing, and general misanthropia is enough to keep the musically ignorant amused.
Aug 16, 2011 Beth rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Funny and forgettable.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this book, especially those depicting the culture of marketing meetings and the you-wanna-be-a-winner-don't-ya attitudes so rife in corporate America. Mr. Kennedy's at his best when he's writing bits that could describe *any* corporation. Why? Because we already know that the music industry is more interested in money than talent and that it's out of touch. I wonder just how many people Dan Kennedy's age really are naive enough to th
Jan 07, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
Rock On
by Dan Kennedy

Does life in corporate America baffle you? Do you catch yourself theorizing regularly about how executives make 7 digits a YEAR? What is it they DO? Rock On doesn't explain any of this satisfactorily, but it does allow its reader a reprieve from the seriousness of it all.

When I picked up this book I approached it cautiously. I don't normally get excited about pop culture memoirs and I didn't expect this to be any different. I was very interested in reading a memoir by Dan Ke
Oct 10, 2011 Mary rated it it was ok
I expected something different from Dan Kennedy, the guy who introduces the weekly Moth podcast. The book is a compilation of his flitting thoughts while working a desk job at a corporate record label. It's a quick, hyper-witty read, but the author's lack of critical personal insight makes it fall flat. What I really mean is: he used 'gay' in a derogatory way, referred to people as ' midgets' & was trying for racial humor in a chapter. ulgh. It's brain spew from someone who appears to have ...more
Dec 21, 2009 Christy rated it did not like it
Shelves: rule-of-50, 2009
I wasn't really liking this one anyway, but I had to put it away after this gem: "I've only ever met one woman who understand that you [bassists:] aren't playing the guitar solo in the middle eight bars of the song. And the only reason she understood the difference between the lead guitarist and the bass guitarist is because she was a brilliant bassist."
Thanks, Dan Kennedy, I really needed you to explain to me the difference between a guitar and a bass. I will continue to listen to your Moth pod
Allison Herman
Sep 15, 2008 Allison Herman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Schoney
I know I always love love love books about music, but I really loved the writing in this one. Along the same lines as a Chuck Klosterman book, this was the true story of a man who worked for Atlantic Records and was a little put off by the day to day. His stories were great and the way he split up the chapters had me flying through the book. If you like music, memoirs, and quick-witted writing, read this book.
susanb79 Busch
Feb 21, 2011 susanb79 Busch rated it liked it
At first it was blowing my mind that this guy was suprised by what a bunch of douchebags 95% of his coworkers were but then it occurred to me that some people that haven't worked in this business for years might still harbor some sort of romantic feeling that it really might still be about the music at major labels. No dice my friend.
What was even more fun was guessing who he was talking about in some of these instances and putting faces to names.
Jul 04, 2008 Alvin rated it really liked it
Some people - through wit and grit - manage to turn the most pedestrian of experiences into epic dramas. Kennedy was mid-level management at a record company (or whatever you call such entities these days) for a year and a half, and he both gets and makes more out of it than your average world-shaking titan. This is both a hilariously brilliant tour through the Culture Industry and one man's descent into the heart of corporate darkness.
Jan 21, 2008 Kevin rated it it was amazing
This book is really freakin' funny. A great illustration on how the music industry is getting more and more ridiculous. It's thoughtful, self-effacing, and sometimes even inspiring in a way that goes beyond nostalgia--The chapter about going to see Iggy and the Stooges in concert is especially amazing. Kennedy is pure gold here.
Jan 03, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Yes this has an incredibly stupid title, but it made me laugh out loud - in public - on multiple occaisions. Definitely worth reading.
Aug 27, 2007 Jess rated it liked it
A frequently funny memoir about working in the marketing department of Atlantic Records by a thirtysomething McSweeney's contributor.
Vince Darcangelo
Jan 17, 2010 Vince Darcangelo rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, nonfiction

This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

Rock On: An Office Power Ballad
Vince Darcangelo, Special to the Rocky

Published February 22, 2008 at 12:05 a.m.

* Nonfiction. By Dan Kennedy. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $14.95. Grade: B+

Book in a nutshell: Kennedy, a regular contributor to McSweeney's and author of the comedic memoir Loser Goes First, writes a riotously funny chronicle of his year-and-a- half stint in the music business.

Andy Yen
Feb 12, 2008 Andy Yen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: music/office people
Did you know the average American reads 1-4 books a year?*

Given that I probably read 0-1 books last year (but probably 20,000 blog posts), one of my resolutions for 2008 was to read more books. In my quest to defeat mediocrity, I’ve conquered a few books in the past few weeks, most recently Dan Kennedy’s new music industry bio, Rock On: An Office Power Ballad.

The book is not so much a biography of Kennedy’s life as a whole, but a snapshot into the 18 months of his life as a creative video market
Mar 23, 2014 Amber rated it really liked it
Does anyone actually read these? Don't care. This is what I want to remember about it:

This one is yet another fascinating tale in my favorite genre: "creative nonfiction". Dan Kennedy worked in advertising for a record company in the middle of the digital transition. Record execs were slow to let the consumers pick how they wanted their music. That's what I gleaned from it. It's not really about anything, just some memoirish stories about working at a record company.

Another thought: It seems on
Alex V.
Oct 26, 2009 Alex V. rated it really liked it
Every literary-minded person who has done time in corporate America thinks "One day, I am going to write a hilarious book about all this and it will have been all worth while." Every one of them. I am one of those people; I even have a spreadsheet somewhere of fake replacement names for former co-workers. But few, if any of us will write that book, and even if we do, most of those books will not be as funny and poignant as Dan Kennedy's tale of selling out to the mid-to-upper reaches of the ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Andi rated it it was amazing
On Friday afternoon, while sitting in the choir room at my old high school where my mother plays piano as a volunteer, I finished up Dan Kennedy’s Rock On. It was an ironic setting to be reading this book - with so many students dreaming, as Kennedy did, of becoming a rock star - but the reading moment was stellar. As was the book. . .

Kennedy is funny, really funny. In this book about his semi-unexpected employment at a major record label where he has to make ads for Phil Collins and participate
Jan 19, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it
I don't think people realize the extent of the revolutionary times we are living in. True, there are no skirmishes in the streets (at least not where I live in Portland, Oregon) but before our eyes (and ears) the way people have found and obtained music for more than 50 years is crumbling before our eyes. I'm not sorry. While I mostly reject anarchy and embrace institutions that provide services (roads, education, food etc.) the record company has always been "the man" to me. Sure they find and ...more
Amar Pai
Sep 05, 2008 Amar Pai rated it liked it
Inconsequential but intermittently funny. (Just like the record business... ba dum ching)

In this book Dan Kennedy recounts his time as Director of Creative Development at a major label. I started out vaguely disliking the author, because he tries too hard to be funny. In the end though he won me over cos the book did make me laugh at times.

[at this point i will pause to rant about major labels]

The record industry, good riddance I say. It's basically organized crime. Artists get peanuts and exec
Feb 11, 2009 Dennisb rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Iowa City Public Library
Poor Dan Kennedy! After years of being a devoted rock fan, he finally lands his "dream" job in marketing at Atlantic Records. In the eighteen months he is there, he has to come up with new ways to promote products using the company’s recording artists, watch the company bought out by a group of investors (mass layoffs ensue), and become completely disillusioned with the music industry. (Kennedy also receives a pink slip after the buy out).

In Rock On: An Office Power Ballad, Kennedy offers a smal
Mar 31, 2016 Olivia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know what to say about this. I thought this book was going to give some kind of insight into the inner workings of music industry, but it turned out to be 200 pages of whining, basically.

It was reasonably entertaining from the point of view that there were some humourous scenes; it certainly had its moments, but I really couldn't get past the fact that the author comes across as such a douchebag. We get it, you're ~not a corporate guy~ and everyone is so ~blinded by greed~ that th
Todd Huish
May 27, 2008 Todd Huish rated it really liked it
I heard Dan Kennedy talking about this book on NPR and it seemed like a good memoir so I picked it up. If I had written this review directly after finishing the book I'm pretty sure I would have given it a slightly lower rating but I find the book growing on me over time. I read the entire thing in a day and I think I rushed it just a little and that colored my original thinking about it. I find myself thinking about it more and more as time goes on though and that is always a sign of a good ...more
AJ Conroy
Jul 10, 2009 AJ Conroy marked it as to-read
From Gapers Block:

About the Book: Rock On is the honest experience of Dan Kennedy while he worked for a major label in the late '90s, just as the music industry was officially and totally starting to fall apart. Kennedy literally falls into a job that many dream of, and goes along for the ride in the weird world known as the music industry. He's honest about the events he witnessed, and doesn't sugarcoat the eccentric world he was dropped in.
Why I like it: When I was little I dreamed of working
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. This is New York novelist Dan Kennedy of The Moth, not the business advice guru.

Dan Kennedy is an American writer living in New York and host of The Moth storytelling podcast. He is the author of three books: "Loser Goes First" (Random House, 2004), "Rock On" (Algonquin, 2008), and "American Spirit: A Novel" (A
More about Dan Kennedy...

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“On the TV screen right now, it's 1975, and Jimmy Page is playing like a man who answers to nobody. A man existing in that seductive state of extended adolescence that rock legends bask in, a man connected to something in the universe larger than even the sum total of the legendary Led Zeppelin, playing guitar because that is so clearly what he was put here to do. And it's wrong to expect that kind of divine moment to last forever, and to expect an artist to stay in 1975. Fact is, ten minutes ago I saw the guy onscreen right downstairs, coming off the trading floor of the stock exchange with a banker carrying his guitar cases for him. I sit cross-legged on the floor on a workday staring into my cereal bowl, thinking about how we all change. We all grow up. We all move on, one way or another, whether we want to or not.” 17 likes
“Here is what I say to the children who are our future: never underestimate how denial and a good old-fashioned mild learning disability can team up to come off as unwavering self-confidence.” 0 likes
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