An account of the music and epic social change of 1973, a defining year for David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Eagles, Elvis Presley, and the former members of The Beatles.
... fascinating ... paints a vivid portrait of the year through the lens of popular music ... Jackson writes about the social trends and historical events of the 1970s, and his analysis of sexuality and rock music is particularly interesting ... Jackson also takes a fascinating look at gender and rock music...providing useful context for readers curious about the rise of women in rock ... While 1973 is chiefly concerned with rock, Jackson also includes well-researched chapters about the year in other genres, writing beautifully about Stevie Wonder's landmark R&B album Innervisions and Gram Parsons' progressive-country record GP. He deftly discusses the sea change in country music that occurred around 1973 ... Jackson also proves to have a real talent for evoking the places that made 1973 such a consequential year in music ... It's clear that the intended audience for 1973 is rock aficionados, and they'll absolutely find much to admire in its pages — the book is the product of a tremendous amount of research, and Jackson writes with an enthusiasm that any music fan will find instantly contagious. He's as comfortable explaining the rise of new radio formats as he is dissecting the lyrics of some of the year's most famous songs, and he clearly loves the subject matter ... But it's also a book that will appeal to anyone with an abiding interest in (relatively) recent American history. Rock music has never existed in a vacuum, and in Jackson's hands it proves to be a fascinating mirror of society as a whole — particularly in an America when the Age of Aquarius was transitioning, awkwardly, to the Age of Watergate. Jackson is a wonderful writer and a knowledgeable guide to the America of the early 1970s, and 1973 is an engaging look at the music that changed our culture forever.
... thorough ... Jackson admits that he leaned on unscholarly online sources like Wikipedia for his research, but chapter notes make clear that he also turned to print, and lots of it, especially the featured artists' memoirs. (Most seem to have written one.) His detective work yields insights into the Bowie-Jagger rivalry-friendship as well as the Bowie-Elton John rivalry (just rivalry, no friendship). Jackson taps into the political and social climates that made way for flag-planting hits like Helen Reddy's feminist anthem I Am Woman and Lou Reed's tribute to androgyny, Walk on the Wild Side, but he also loops in the present day to make a point ... While 1973 is an invaluable reference work, complete with black-and-white photo insert, reading it like a novel provides one of that literary form's great payoffs: empathy with a story's characters. What's more, skipping around in 1973 could mean missing one of Jackson's debatable declarations. For rock purists, these may be fightin' words, and Jackson should watch his back: upon finishing 1973, some readers may reach for their turntables, needles blazing.
This lively, detailed narrative provides a backdrop of historical changes that were also roiling the world as the Seventies hit their stride ... Deeply sourced and entertainingly informative, Jackson’s chronology of a transformative year in music, culture, and society may prompt debate (as well as playlist creation) and will appeal to a wide swath of readers.