This book is about something called Classic Rock which is inclusive of, but not to be confused with, actual rock classics like “Let It Bleed” or “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” (or Axis: Bold as Love, Tommy, Village Green, Dark Side of the Moon, Ziggy, or whichever other ‘classic’ rock that floats your boat). We’re talking the radio format definition of ‘classic rock,’ so in addition to the true giants we’re also talking about the schmaltz and cheese of ‘guilty pleasure’ bands like REO Speedwagon, Journey, or Styx (no offense intended to Messrs Cronin, Perry, Shaw et al. – & also: de gustibus non est...)
Understand, this is a wonky kind of book, so the distinction is important as is often the case with things wonky. This is also a hella fun book if you happen to be a fan of the genre(s) (the definition is stretchy enough to allow for the inclusion of Purple Rain and London Calling and Vs. and anything else really that gets played on your local ‘Classic Rock’ channel these days). In it Hyden looks at the foundational myths of ROCK’s early days and contemplates what, if any, meaning can be taken from its progress to its current geriatric phase. Payola, a certain Nobel Prize winner, the Church of Springsteen, and of course the passing of our heroes; all in here and more.
The subtitle of this book is "a journey to the end of classic rock", but the tone is more wistful than mournful. Hyden tackles all the mythology of the music and performers like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen with a light touch and plenty of insight. Entertaining and thoughtful.
National Bestseller * Named one of Rolling Stone's Best Music Books of 2018 * One of Newsweek's 50 Best Books of 2018 * A Billboard Best of 2018 * A New York Times Book Review "New and Noteworthy" selection
The author of the critically acclaimed Your Favorite Band is Killing Me offers an eye-opening exploration of the state of classic rock, its past and future, the impact it has had, and what its loss would mean to an industry, a culture, and a way of life.
Since the late 1960s, a legendary cadre of artists—including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Black Sabbath, and the Who—has revolutionized popular culture and the sounds of our lives. While their songs still get airtime and some of these bands continue to tour, its idols are leaving the stage permanently. Can classic rock remain relevant as these legends die off, or will this major musical subculture fade away as many have before, Steven Hyden asks.
In this mix of personal memoir, criticism, and journalism, Hyden stands witness as classic rock reaches the precipice. Traveling to the eclectic places where geriatric rockers are still making music, he talks to the artists and fans who have aged with them, explores the ways that classic rock has changed the culture, investigates the rise and fall of classic rock radio, and turns to live bootlegs, tell-all rock biographies, and even the liner notes of rock’s greatest masterpieces to tell the story of what this music meant, and how it will be remembered, for fans like himself.
Twilight of the Gods is also Hyden’s story. Celebrating his love of this incredible music that has taken him from adolescence to fatherhood, he ponders two essential questions: Is it time to give up on his childhood heroes, or can this music teach him about growing old with his hopes and dreams intact? And what can we all learn from rock gods and their music—are they ephemeral or eternal?
Steven Hyden is the author of Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Billboard, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Grantland, The A.V. Club, Slate and Salon. He is currently the cultural critic at UPROXX, and the host of the Celebration Rock podcast. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.