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The Rolling Stones Interviews    by Jann Wenner & Joe Levy Amazon.com order for
Rolling Stones Interviews
by Jann Wenner
Order:  USA  Can
Back Bay, 2007 (2007)
Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Peter Wentworth

The Rolling Stones Interviews delivers nostalgia to tail-end baby boomers in a volume which spans four decades of music, political and cultural coverage. Written by and for a youth market the magazine first identified in the late 1960's, the selection here is a celebration of youthful vitality.

With interviews ranging from Jim Morrison to Eminem, Patti Smith to Oriana Fallaci, the volume is wonderfully successful in transporting the reader back in time via the people who shaped popular culture.

I was immediately drawn to interviews by Cameron Crowe of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Cameron Crowe's wonderful film Almost Famous chronicled his own coming of age at Rolling Stone. Knowing today that he was seventeen or eighteen when he interviewed Neil Young, for example, adds both awe and giddiness to one's reading of the otherwise soft interview. The only flaw in the volume is the omission of biographical information on the writers.

Indeed the interviewers provide as much of the appeal as the interviewees. P. J. O'Rourke interviews Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Warhol interviews Truman Capote, Robert Thurman (Uma's father) interviews the Dalai Lama. These pairings presumably up the ante, but in this selection the results are mixed. O'Rourke's interview with Hunter S. Thompson is disappointingly flat. Robert Thurman, on the other hand, is uniquely insightful in his questioning of the Dalai Lama.

For the most part, the celebrity interviewers lack the fluidity and insightfulness of Rolling Stone staff and regulars Jann Wenner, James Henke and David Fricke who did most of the interviews. Their reverence towards their subjects is in evidence but it comes from boots on the backstage research and an unapologetic adoration for the people interviewed. Also, many of these interviews were early in the careers of performers who became icons thus they were less guarded than the typical late career celebrity profile.

This collection is impossible to put down and surprisingly rewarding. The Rolling Stones Interviews would be a great alternative to a necktie for those fathers who drove home from soccer practice playing oldies, from The Beatles to The Clash.

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