Jonathan Taplin: The Magic Years
Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life
“The Magic Years remarkably shares how Jon Taplin was on the front lines of so many pivotal and historic events. He has a helluva story to tell. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen a lot of it with my own eyes.”
“The Magic Years reads like a Magical Mystery Tour of music, loss, beauty, family, justice, and social upheaval. Taplin’s natural, engaging style and his family story are central to its great appeal. Reading this book was in part like reading about my own formation, but through the prism of Taplin’s keen eye. He is a deeply thoughtful, moral, and courageous human being, who knew and worked with the most important figures in folk and rock music, both those behind the curtain and those under the lights, and whose social conscience and sense of justice were alive in him from the most tender age. The Magic Years contains true magic, and true inspiration, as do the years, the people, and the story he recalls.”
“In 1969, when The Band’s Music From Big Pink was released, it felt like the incense and acid haze hanging over the music had been blown away by a cool mountain breeze. Jon Taplin was present for those days, and for everything that came afterwards. His memoir is as clear and strong as an Adirondack stream. Catch this cannonball.”
—Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
“Jon Taplin has lived an extraordinary life during an extraordinary time. I have watched him land on his feet again and again after completing death-defying midair acrobatics. I don’t know if the things in this book actually happened, but I know all of it is true.”
—T Bone Burnett
“It’s uncanny to find someone closely involved in so many iconic events, and with such understanding: Dylan going electric at Newport in 1965, San Francisco in summer 1967, Monterey, Woodstock, on the road with Dylan and the Band in the late ’60s, the making of Music from Big Pink and The Basement Tapes, realizing the cover of the Stones’ Exile on Main St., filming Mean Streets, The Last Waltz, and Under Fire, and saving Walt Disney from corporate destruction. That’s why you have to read this vital book: despite losses, exhaustion, and compromise, the love and faith in it call us to make a new, glad day.”
—Nigel Smith, William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Princeton University
“The Magic Years disproves Robin Williams’s famous line: Jon Taplin remembers the sixties (and seventies and beyond) and he was definitely there, as a maker and impresario—with Bob Dylan and the Beatles and the Stones and (especially) the Band and Martin Scorsese, among others, then inventing an online movie service years before Netflix existed and getting threatened and roughed up by Harvey Weinstein. It’s an enviably rich life that he chronicles with unfailing charm and menschy generosity.”
—Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire
Jonathan Taplin’s extraordinary journey has put him at the crest of every major cultural wave in the past half century: he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band in the 60s, producer of major films in the 70s, an executive at Merrill Lynch in the 80s, creator of the Internet’s first Video-on-Demand service in the 90s, and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium. His is a lifetime marked not only by good timing but by impeccable instincts—from the folk scene of Woodstock, to Hollywood’s rebellious film movement and beyond, Taplin is not just a witness but a lifelong producer, the right-hand man to some of the greatest talents of both pop culture and the underground.
With cameos by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, and countless other icons, The Magic Years is both a rock memoir and a work of cultural criticism from a key player who watched a nation turn from idealism to nihilism. Taplin offers a clear-eyed roadmap of how we got here and makes a convincing case for art’s power to deliver us from “passionless detachment” and rekindle our humanism.
Release Date: March 2, 2021
On a Sunday in August 1969, Jonathan Taplin was flying above Woodstock in a helicopter with the folk-rock group the Band. He looked down to see 300,000 people swaying to music, all bound by the collective hallucination that "pleasure was an answer to social discord, not merely a diversion from it." His extraordinary journey is marked by moments like this one: seeing the critical mass of each decade's culture from a rare vantage point. From the birth of folk rock in the sixties, to the rebellious New Hollywood film movement of the seventies, to the worlds of high finance in the eighties and tech in the decades to follow, Taplin is not just a witness but a lifelong producer, the right-hand man to the greatest talents of the drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll generation. With cameos by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, and countless other icons, this is both a rock memoir and a work of cultural criticism from a key player who watched a nation turn from idealism to nihilism. Taplin offers a clear-eyed roadmap of how we got here and makes a convincing case for art's power to deliver us from "passionless detachment" and rekindle our humanism.
Jonathan Taplin - The Magic Years - 344 pages - Heyday - 2021 - ISBN 978-1597145251
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