Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever
Faber and Faber 2011
“New York City tends to erase its history, endlessly reinventing itself: that is its way, ” writes Will Hermes on the final page of his book Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever (Faber and Faber, 2011). Nineteen seventy-three through nineteen seventy-seven, argues Hermes, were pivotal ones for New York. The city was in near socio-economic-cultural collapse during this time (the blackout of 1977, Son of Sam, a $5.3 billion debt) yet it was also a time of great musical creativity. These were birthing years for many of the artists and bands that, in coming together, created music scenes that influenced not only music in the city and nation, but also around the world: punk, salsa, disco, hip-hop, and avant-garde all took root and blossomed during this period. In Buildings on Fire, Hermes details the activities of the major players in NYC’s music communities of the mid-seventies and explains the social conditions that encouraged and constrained their actions.
Will Hermes is a senior critic for Rolling Stone and a longtime contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered. His work also appears in The New York Times and The Village Voice.