Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle I Wanna Take You Higher

By Margaret Moser

DECEMBER 7, 1998:  I happened to catch Woodstockon TV not long ago.

Rock & roll fans of a certain age will know what I mean when I say the experience of watching it was bittersweet. There was so much riding on faith back then; it seemed all you had to do was believe in love or protest your cause and everything would be okay. The reality was much uglier. It came by way of Altamont and cops with tear gas and the assimilation of the youth culture into corporate profit.

But for a few moments in Woodstock, the glory is there. It comes when Sly Stone storms the stage at 4am with the Family Stone and deconstructs soul music in one simple song, hammering it into a rock & roll context with five little words: I wanna take you higher! He's framed by the camera, dazzling the eye with a shimmering fan of white fringe flying and glistening with sweat under the stage lights as the Family Stone pumps out its vicious, horn-driven battle cry. Tens of thousands of people responded from the darkness: Higher! It was a call to arms then, and 30 years later is still riveting to watch.

Back then, all of the books written on rock & roll would have probably fit in a small bookcase. The ones that came out this year alone would likely fill two or three times that much space -- I know because I wrote one with Bill Crawford that came out last September, Rock Stars Do the Dumbest Things, and it got thrown into the fray. No one will mistake it for literature, but I hope it provides a few laughs at a business that needs it.

The worst of the books in this section are about as execrable as writing gets; the best are exhilarating. Either way, there's no mistaking the direction they want you to go: They wanna take you higher.


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