“I said over and over and over again, this dance is going to be a drag…” Over and Over (Bobby Day)
Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio by Carol Miller (Ecco, $26.99, 272 pages)
There are books that you really, really want to like or love but – like a blind date – sometimes it just doesn’t work out. This memoir about New York City FM “radio legend Carol Miller” promised to offer some juicy information about “the history of rock and roll.” Unfortunately, it does not deliver the goods.
The best, most direct and honest, part of this autobiography is when Miller tells us about her battles with breast cancer. But there’s so little here on topic, and the relevant sections are separated by so many pages, it might well have been condensed into a decent magazine article for The New Yorker.
What’s frustrating and confusing about this supposed “tell all” account is that it’s more like a “tell virtually nothing” account. Miller writes about the many people who have done her wrong – like a female doctor who misdiagnosed her breast cancer; a radio station chief who constantly groped her; a prospective second husband who bailed on her, etc. – but then fails to tell us who, exactly, are these people. She tells us that they are entitled to their privacy. Maybe so, but then the question arises as to how on earth the folks at Ecco Press fact-checked this book? If we don’t know who Miller is writing about, how do we know what portion or portions of her story are true?
Further confusion is added to the mix when she does describe the specific faults of her ex-husband, MTV V-J Mark Goodman. (Don’t get your hopes up, it’s pretty dull stuff.) And she spills the dirt when it comes to her time spent with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and record producer Jimmy Iovine back in the day (the late 70s). Since she’s been hiding identities throughout the memoir, why list their names unless it’s because, as she acknowledges, they are well-known to the followers of TV’s American Idol? Are young viewers of Idol supposed to buy the book just to get the dirt on Tyler and Iovine?
“And so I spent the night in David Cloverdale’s suite. I’m not going into the details. You already know what happened.”
Ah, and then Miller tells us about her one-night stand with a known rock star while informing her readers that she won’t go into details as they already know what happened… Maybe we would not have been interested in the personal details in the first place, so – Why bring it up at all?
As if this wasn’t crazy making enough, Miller also offers some personal opinions that might lead one to question her judgement skills. She says of the band Led Zeppelin that they “were the definitive act of the rock format.” Wow, really? (Ever heard of a band called The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Queen?) And she tells us that Manhattan rock jock Howard Stern is “brilliant.” The very same Howard Stern who would “speculate as to the color of my (Miller’s) panties that day… (while) making obviously false but all-in-fun claims that he had a stack of naked pictures of me.” This is what passes for fun and brilliant these days? How sad.
To her credit, Miller offers a few engaging stories such as one about how nice Paul McCartney was to her after hearing her state on the radio that the band known as Wings was actually a very good set of musicians. She also relates a story about Guns N’ Roses and Slash that might be true, although it made me think of the line attributed to Rod Stewart: “Most of the great stories in rock and roll’s short history are false.”
If Up All Night were a song, I’d say that it doesn’t have much of a beat and you can’t dance to it. Mr. Clark, on a scale of 1 to 100, I give it a 64. Yes, “over and over and over again, this dance is going to be a drag.”
Note: For those wondering who rock star David Cloverdale is, he sang lead with Deep Purple before founding Whitesnake.