The author of the critically acclaimed Your Favorite Band is Killing Me offers an eye-opening exploration of the state of classic rock, its past and future, the impact it has had, and what its loss would mean to an industry, a culture, and a way of life.
In a book that’s structured like a double LP — 19 'tracks,' or chapters, apportioned over four 'sides,' Hyden dissects the traditions and punctures the myths of rock fandom (and rock criticism) with a specificity that can only be called love. He’s like a kinder, married-with-children version of Rob, the record-shop proprietor who narrates Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. Or rather, Rob wishes he’d grown up to be Steven Hyden ... The crumbling of the monoculture means that you probably won’t ever have to squint to make out any of these artists from the other side of a football stadium, but that’s a good thing. Hyden’s warm and witty scholarship is, too.
In what passes for structure, Hyden undertakes a hero’s journey, à la Joseph Campbell, through classic rock’s foundational myths ... Hyden’s classic rock education is exhaustive. He’s listened to every bootleg, checked in at concerts by most every living god ... It’s only rock ’n’ roll, nonbelievers will say, but we who worship the gods will know better.
A classic rock Stations of the Cross is performed, where Hyden analyzes his initiation through radio, his study of albums as musical scripture, his concert-going as sacramental experience, his bootleg recordings as forays among the catacombs, the devotional completism of knowing deep cuts, and the cultural role of cover bands ... Hyden’s deconstruction of [classic rock's] mythos is rigorously honest ... One of the great strengths of Twilight of the Gods is that Hyden is able to hold onto his enthusiasm for Cream and Black Sabbath — his is a fun book — while also imploring the reader to complicate received narratives, to question rock’s strictures. As a critic, he may lack the twitchy amphetamine enthusiasm of a Lester Bangs, or the graduate-seminar erudition of a Marcus. But Hyden is willing to interrogate rock, this genre haunted by an unbearable whiteness of being, a form painted with a whiter shade of pale.