Christopher McKittrick – Can’t Give It Away on Seventh Avenue: The Rolling Stones and New York City
I absolutely love literature which explores and focuses on one specific thing in relation to music and culture, which is exactly what Christopher McKittrick’s compelling account of how the strong bond between the two majestic entities that are the Rolling Stones and the vibrant New York City came into existence and evolved over time does.
"Can’t Give It Away on Seventh Avenue" is one of those hugely entertaining reads that one can more or less digest in one sitting. The text has a great flow and pace to it, the book is well-written and beautifully researched, and more importantly, the author’s enthusiasm for the subject that this work of his revolves around shines through on every page. One can really tell that McKittrick is utterly devoted to the idea of dissecting and understanding the way in which New York and the Rolling Stones influenced and shaped each other and how the two may be said to be inextricably linked. Again, it is the author’s spirited take on the entire thing that essentially makes this 256-page affair such an inspiring and inspired story to immerse oneself in. The somewhat complex and convoluted interpersonal relationships between various members of the band (well, to be fair, mostly between sirs Jagger and Richards) are also touched on, which makes sense as they were both living in New York for many years and used to frequent the same places, but McKittrick never succumbs to rumors or hearsay, so if you want sensationalism and journalistic garbage, you need to look elsewhere. There is a strong focus on the main theme and subject of the book throughout, but we are always provided with a bit of context with respect to the larger, overall story of the Rolling Stones, which is pretty damn neat. The only thing that I miss and that this eminent piece of literature lacks is a bit more of a personal perspective on certain things, which is to say that there were many passages and sections where I felt that the talented author ought to have injected more of a personal opinion into the narrative, but this is a minor issue, really.
Even though the Rolling Stones originated in London, they more or less all migrated to the US, namely New York City, and as such, the lovely city that never sleeps not only became their home away from home, but their actual home for many years. Back in the 60s and 70s (and to some extent the 80s), New York was overflowing with bands trying to make it and there were countless night clubs, concert venues, and dingy recording studios in existence. Can you imagine the impact the Rolling Stones had when they invaded the US in the mid-60s? Parents loathed them and found them even more abhorrent than the Beatles, but the kids absolutely adored them. McKittrick has done a fabulous job with respect to transporting the reader back to those days, and his sharp eye for detail with respect to what went on in the US both culturally and politically serves as a great backdrop to the story. As he also points out, New York City was riddled with crime back in the 70s and 80s, but fortunately, things have changed radically since then, just as they have when it comes to the Rolling Stones. "Can’t Give It Away on Seventh Avenue" is a fascinating and thought-provoking read, and as you can probably tell, this one comes highly recommended.