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Across The Great Divide


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The definitive book on one of the great, iconic bands of the 1960s and 70s

About the Author

Barney Hoskyns was born in England in 1959 and began writing for the New Musical Express after leaving Oxford. He has since written for The Times, the New Statesman, the Guardian, Spin, the Los Angeles Reader, Creem, Vogue and many other publications. His other books include Say it One Time for the Brokenhearted and Imp of the Perverse.


Implicit within the redemptive qualities commonly ascribed to rock'n'roll is the metaphor of the band/musician as leaders in a spiritual search. The hyperbole that typically ensues from such metaphors is entirely appropriate in reference to The Band, the seminal folk/country/rock group whose recordings, made from 1968 to 1978, psychically imprinted an entire generation. That a predominantly Canadian group should have been so transfixed by, and subsequently successful at, articulating deeply rooted American themes is just one of the seeming paradoxes that Hoskyns explores in this first major study. Borrowing heavily from both previously documented and self-conducted interviews, Hoskyns connects the dots that link The Band with Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, and the concert film The Last Waltz (1978). Cumulatively, the effect of this treatment is ponderous; Greil Marcus's classic essay ``The Band: Pilgrims' Progress'' in Mystery Train ( LJ 4/1/75), from which Hoskyns liberally borrows, is more revelatory. Still, this solid treatment of an influential group belongs in most popular music collections.-- Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., Tex.

The best band in the history of the universe -- George Harrison
A fine meditation on the Canadians who mythologised America * Esquire *
It is the great virtue of Across the Great Divide that Hoskyns has managed to make the less glamorous business of being a band come so alive. The attention to fluctuations in group chemistry and morale, on stage and in the studio, is steeped in the author's engaging fascination with the minutiae of how rock music gets made. It makes for a surprisingly refreshing and admirable read -- Robert Sandall * Sunday Times *
Barney Hoskyns clearly relishes his task. Indulging in the same colloquialisms as his subjects one moment, passing critically astute judgements the next, he takes us from sleazy one-nighters backing up Ronnie Hawkins to high-rolling one-nighters firing up Bob Dylan, and beyond -- Bobby Surf * NME *
Impeccably researched and elegantly written -- Charlie Gillet, author of The Sound of the City

In a saga spanning three decades, British journalist Hoskyns ( From a Whisper to a Scream: The Great Voices of Popular Music ) chronicles the story of the critically acclaimed rock group, the Band. As the 1960s dawned, a shared interest in the music of the American South brought Arkansas drummer-vocalist Levon Helm together with four Canadians: guitarists Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko, vocalist Richard Manuel and keyboardist Garth Hudson. Known as the Hawks, they backed up Bob Dylan after his notorious acoustic-to-electric switch; later, they perfected a style of their own at a Woodstock, N.Y., house dubbed ``Big Pink.'' In 1968, their first album as the Band was released, and subsequent hits included ``The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.'' This account relies heavily on quotations from the likes of critic Greil Marcus, performer Eric Clapton and late promoter Bill Graham. Where-are-they-now final chapters investigate the years after the Band's 1976 split: Robertson pursued Hollywood interests, Manuel committed suicide in 1986 and the others continued solo work. Of the Band's lineup, Robertson proves by far the most loquacious, making this volume a bonanza for his fans in particular, as well as for Dylan aficionados. Photos. (July)

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