FROM DAVID KIRBY’S INTRODUCTION
There is in the exchange between artist and audience another meaning of the phrase “shock of recognition,” because the audience looks at the artist and sees what it can be, just as the artist looks out at the throng of ecstatic faces and thinks, “As you are, so I was—who am I now?” And in the exchange that takes place between artist and audience, both agree, not to answer these questions, but to ask them.
In Crossroad, I’m taking a closer look at that intersection described in the subtitle. There are artists, and there are audiences, and the two come together thanks to a lot of behind-the-scenes activity by songwriters, producers, and other unsung heroes of the industry; music is the result. A lot of these pieces began with my picking up a book about somebody whose music I loved, and one problem with a lot of music books is that they aren’t about music—they’re about musicians. And while it can be fleetingly entertaining to read about your favorite rock star’s addictions and sexual conquests, you find that you’re left with the question you began with, namely, where’d the music come from?
I want to take a broader view of how the music world works, how the moving parts link up (or not), how carefully worked-out systems collide with unforeseen accidents, how geniuses and stumblebums somehow manage to make the music that rewires our brains, electrifies our very souls, and keeps us young forever.
PRAISE FOR DAVID KIRBY
“Kirby tells us not how to view Little Richard, but shows us what his world was like, from the raucous Pentecostal worship services where he first learned to sing, to the grotesque medicine shows where he promoted quack tonics and wares, to the sonic alchemy of those early recording sessions at Cosima Matassa’s New Orleans studio.”
— OXFORD AMERICAN
“In Kirby’s book, Elvis and Chuck Berry are milquetoasts next to Little Richard: The former Richard Penniman channeled Baudelaire, hard bop and juke-joint hoodoo, and invented rock & roll in two and a half minutes with ‘Tutti Frutti.’ The Georgia Peach is well and truly buffed.”
— ROLLING STONE
“If the squares had understood him, would Little Richard have got away with it? Kirby is not a square and, in full swing, he writes with the fast-talking charm of the music he loves. He has made his own hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.”
— TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (LONDON)
“Kirby packs his prose as fully as he does his verse and likewise runs it on high octane, pedal to the metal. He beats all the professional rock scribes hollow with this light-footed but profound little book.”
“David Kirby . . . limns his subject with the loop-de-loops of wonder, mischief and insight that characterize his poetry, and the resulting non-fiction account . . . sings in a way that, like the singer’s hammy, barn-storming performances, makes you gyrate with pleasure.”
— GEORGIA MUSIC