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When We Get to Surf City

A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams

Bob Greene

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Description

In a dazzling and exhilarating display of narrative on-the-road reporting, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Bob Greene takes readers on an unforgettable American journey of music, memories, and universal longing.

Running away to join the circus is a dream we're told to put away once we're no longer young. But, as Bob Greene writes, "just when in our lives we give up on capturing the freedom and bright mornings of our world when it was new, sometimes something happens to keep the sun high in the sky a while longer. Sometimes we find something we weren't even aware we were looking for."

For fifteen years beginning in the 1990s, Greene stepped into a universe that, out in the country every summer night, is hiding in plain sight: the touring world of the great early rock bands who gave America the car-radio and jukebox music it still loves best. Singing backup with the legendary Jan and Dean as they endlessly crisscross the nation, Greene takes us to football stadiums and minor-league ballparks, to no-name ice cream stands and midnight diners, to back roads and carnival midways as he tells a riveting story of great fame and lingering sorrow, of unexpected friendship and lasting dreams, of the things that keep us going in the face of all the things that threaten to stop us.

Striking chords of recognition and yearning, When We Get to Surf City glistens with cameos by the men and women with whom Greene traveled the United States on his deliriously unlikely journey, including Chuck Berry, Martha and the Vandellas, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Kingsmen, James Brown, Lesley Gore, the Drifters, Little Eva, and the Coasters.

All of them--not just the people on the stage, but the people in the audiences, too--are seeking their private versions of the mythical destination Jan and Dean came up with all those years ago: Surf City as the perfect, cloudless place we all believe is out there, if only we can find it.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, moving and brilliant, this is the trip of a lifetime, a travelogue of the heart, accompanied by a thundering guitar chorus of Fender Stratocasters. It is a story destined to touch readers not just today, but for generations to come, as long as the music itself echoes.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 28, 2008 – In 1992, author and NPR commentator Greene was invited onstage to sing \x93Surf City\x94 with the 1960s surf duo, Jan and Dean. Greene didn\x92t know it at the time, but he would spend the next 15 years touring and performing with them. Greene narrates the tedium and joy of touring as a middle-aged man with other middle-aged men whose greatest celebrity was three to four decades in the past. Yet Jan and Dean were unlike any other oldies road show, for Jan had suffered injuries in a 1966 car accident so severe that they affected every moment of his life. Greene travels a circuit of state fairs, stadiums, amusement parks and corporate showrooms, living a grown-up version of his teenage fantasy. His main focus is the peculiarities of life in the heartland, the dynamics of performing and the deep, unspoken friendships among men who make their livings on the road. Greene also has a series of bizarre encounters with aging celebrities ranging from James Brown to Frank Sinatra. Throughout, Greene shows unusual sensitivity to detail. At times, however, one wishes he would have provided more background on his subjects, as the nuances of surf rock are pretty obscure to many under the age of 60. Overall, the structure of the book mirrors perfectly life on the road\x97a blur studded with moments of great intensity.

Customer Reviews

Take home...to the 60's

This is one of the great books to read if you want to know what happened to one of the iconic duos of the 60's. Bob Greene takes on the road with Jan and Dean, not the huge stars of the 60's but the men making a living on the oldies circuit. He introduces us to some memorable characters as well as some favorite performers from our youth. I personally loved Mr. Greene's chance encounter with Gene Pitney at an airport in upstate New York and and a late night bus ride with Ben E King. This is a touching ode to the music many of us grew up with. It's also the story of how one persons dream is just another mans life. I highly recommend this book.

When We Get to Surf City
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Music
  • Published: May 13, 2008
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 250 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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