Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

You ready to rock? She was with the bands

  • Print

The list of musicians Lisa Robinson has interviewed over the last four decades reads like a who's who of popular music: the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, John Lennon, Patti Smith, U2, the Clash, Eminem, Lady Gaga and more.

The New York-based Robinson co-founded Rock Scene magazine and has written for Hit Parader, NME, the New York Post and Vanity Fair, gaining exclusive access to the world's biggest acts over the last four decades.

She carved a path for female rock journalists at a time when male scribes like Lester Bangs and David Fricke were the norm.

There Goes Gravity is the story of her journey. The book proceeds in roughly chronological order through her career, beginning in the mid-1970s and winding its way to the present.

"Having one foot in the Led Zeppelin camp... and the other foot in deep at (legendary punk club) CBGB's... is what made me different as a music journalist," Robinson writes in the opening chapter.

She doesn't claim to be objective, which helped her get up close and personal with musicians in a way many other rock writers can't. She went on tour with the Stones and Zeppelin, was at (or hosted) the hippest parties and emerged with hundreds of cassettes and notebooks to show for it.

In some cases, Robinson delivers incredible insight into the musicians' lives. Robinson's chats with John Lennon, for example, offer the reader a new perspective of Lennon's life after the Beatles, and she chronicles Michael Jackson's early solo career with equal care. Most of her insight on the birth of punk on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is stellar.

Robinson shows she's still got her finger on the proverbial pulse of music. Eminem and Lady Gaga get a significant look, and Robinson does well in chronicling their relatively brief careers. (The book's title comes from the lyrics for Eminem's 2002 hit Lose Yourself.)

In some chapters, results are mixed. Says Robinson: "After having spent hours and hours interviewing Mick (Jagger), when people ask me what he's really like, it's still hard to explain." True enough here, although (when coherent) Stones guitarist Keith Richards dishes out some pretty good stuff.

The Led Zeppelin chapter is the weakest of the lot, in some ways mirroring the band and its songs: showy, self-indulgent and a bit long-winded.

Robinson could use a good editor; she repeats herself and sometimes starts telling what seem to be juicy stories before becoming sidetracked.

She also makes some incredible claims, although it's hard to tell how serious she is. In one chapter, she claims to have (successfully) insisted CBS Records president Walter Yetnikoff sign both Elvis Costello and the Clash in the U.S. She also claims responsibility for U2's guitar sound, based on her having given Bono and the Edge bootleg tapes she made of the band Television at CBGB's.

In the end, Robinson divulges only small nuggets of the really juicy stuff. She might have been more successful focusing on either the big rock acts or the New York punk scene.

Still, There Goes Gravity provides a brief, tantalizing glimpse into life on the road with some of the world's biggest, most groundbreaking artists from a woman who broke plenty of ground herself.


Before becoming the Winnipeg Free Press books editor, Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson wrote about music and toured in bands.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 G7

History

Updated on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 8:07 AM CDT: Tweaks formatting.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Raw: Video shows destroyed West Hawk Inn

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google