MixedLos Angeles Review of BooksFor all of its tales of narrow escapes and derring-do, of fortunes made and squandered, glamorous women, hit records, historic tours, honor paid to and scores settled with the living and the dead, Life is a dispiriting and finally tedious book ... The result is preening, plodding, with the grating overuse of the same adjectives and phrases and flat-footed transitions ... There’s no sense of a writer seeking the right word, the right tone, the way to shape a story and make it stick, except when Richards is writing about music: what songs are, how they’re written, how they come to life, what they’re for — and these sections, the beating heart of the book and the reason to read it, do feel written, not talked.
MixedThe New York Review of BooksTestimony, Robertson’s account of his life as a teenage member of the rockabilly band Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, and as the guitarist and a songwriter for the Band, a group that in the late 1960s rewrote the American story as surely as Mark Twain, Mae West, Uncle Dave Macon, or Robert Johnson had done before them, is a book about the revelation of such moments … Except for an account of a guitar duel for his job in the Hawks, Robertson doesn’t write effectively about music—he can’t make a song or a moment in it a story in and of itself … Robertson has told many of the stories he tells here more eloquently in interviews. Often his writing is workmanlike. But that, I think, is not what will stay with the reader. More likely to be remembered is his description of his own recording of his song ‘Yazoo Street Scandal.’
PositiveBarnes & Noble ReviewSo you can feel what Brownstein is saying by the way she says it: thoughtful, everything put in doubt, a level, sober tone, so that the slightest gesture towards a smile...may go off like a little bomb, or make no sound at all. As someone supposedly writing about herself, Brownstein is also a music critic, of her own band, a social critic, of her own milieu, and a literary critic, of her self as she constructed it.