Perfect Sound Forever


Novel excerpt by Michael Goldberg
(August 2014)

Writer/editor Michael Goldberg has had a pretty storied career. After working as an editor at Rolling Stone for 10 years, he went on to found the first online music magazine (yes, he beat out PSF!) called Addicted to Noise and later became an editor and VP at another pioneering music site SonicNet (which would later fall under MTV's umbrella).

Goldberg is now turning his attention to fiction, coming up with the first book of a projected trilogy- True Love Scars, a stream of conscious coming-of-age story of a 19-year-old California kid who crawls through the refuse of the early '70s with an obsession for music, writing and women. Below we have an excerpt where the hero ruminates over music scribes (which is of course very appropriate for here).

The book is available at Amazon now. Also see the True Love Scars page where there's more info about the book including an arty video with Goldberg reading the first couple of pages and a Spotify playlist with songs from the first two chapters, and more playlists to come.

You know Meltzer, right? R. Meltzer, who wrote "The Aesthetics of Rock." Everyone says it's brilliant and the best, but no one can get through it. I mean anyone writing music reviews got it lying around with a bookmark at page 6. Lester copped his whole trip off the cat. Meltzer wrote the hippest reviews in Creem, and in the early days he wrote for Crawdaddy and Fusion and Rock, all the music mags, but the far-out grooviest trip of his scene, he writes lyrics for the Blue Öyster Cult. "Harvester of Eyes," which has to be the best song title ever, right?, and "Stairway to the Stars" and there's others.

Meltzer's not same as all the other wannabe rock stars doing the rock critic deal as a poor substitute. No man, what the Blue Öyster Cult put on record, Meltzer's part of the trip. His lyrics speak in tongues. "Stairway to the Stars," written from the point of view of a rock star, and still to this day I dig it the most.

You can drive my motorcar, it's insured to thirty thou, kill them all if you wish.

You know when someone tells you something, and it's not funny or meaningful or any of that, and they say, well, I guess you had to be there. That Blue Öyster Cult lyric, yeah, well, I guess you had to be there.

Lord Jim takes a hit of his Pall Mall, and that's the first time cigarette smoke smells groovy.

"I'm gonna write an opus on Black Sabbath Vol. 4," he says.

"I ain't into Sabbath," I say. "But I'll dig to read it."

"Maybe you'll get to. If it gets past that bastard Roth's dreaded red pen."

"You mean King Editor?" I say, and we get a laugh outta that one.

Larry Roth, editor of The Paper. Already I left a review of Clear Spot at his office, you know, the Beefheart album. You're hip to Captain Beefheart, right? Well if not, I'll clue you in. Later.

"I'm Michael, Michael Stein," I say. "But people call me Writerman. I reviewed the Pet Sounds reissue."

Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," his "Tender Is the Night," his "Citizen Kane." That record was The End. The Beach Boys never made another album can touch Pet Sounds. All that acid put Brian out of commission. If the Beach Boys is a person, that person is brain dead.

All the heaviest critics reviewed Pet Sounds in '66. Everything that can be said been said when I was 13. Greil Marcus finds all that's romantic and lost in Pet Sounds, an America that might have been. Robert Christgau, New York tough guy, compares it to Aftermath, grudgingly gives Pet Sounds the one up. Ellen Willis with her post-Feminist deconstruction of Pet Sounds' pre-Feminist sensibility. Cosmic tripster Paul Williams gone off on it as "a metaphor for the rise and fall of a youth culture in flux." The Sausalito Cowboy, man, such an innovator back then, wrote a short story about Brian's secret life. For his review. A short story. And Meltzer, contrary as ever, dismisses it as "the unholy cluster fuck of sentimentality, melodrama and the 101 Strings Orchestra, in other words, a total piece of shit." He said anyone with a brain would get more out of letting the needle grind away on the turntable platter sans rubber mat, volume jacked full-bore to 10. I dig Meltzer the most.

Lord Jim sings a line from "Caroline, No," my favorite song on Pet Sounds. His voice soft, tries to hit a high octave, mimics Brian. Sings that heartbreaking line where he wonders what happened to her long hair, and to the girl he used to know.

And that song captures so perfect when it was over, when me and Sweet Sarah can't make it no more. Could have cried, only I never cry—that's something you oughta know about me —well, pretty much never. You know the scene in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," when it's raining and Holly leaves Cat in the alley? Every time that movie plays late night on the TV, and it gets to that scene, I'm bawling, man.

Lord Jim tells me he read my review. "Beautiful," he says, and sings another melancholy line.

Yeah well back then so many songs remind me. Of her.

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