Rock Me on the Water: 1974—The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics

Harper. Mar. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9780062899217. $29.99. ARTS
Brownstein (The Power and the Glitter) attempts to break down the year 1974 into transformative monthly moments in movies, television, music, and politics in Los Angeles. M*A*S*He offers Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty as examples of the dismantling of the Hollywood establishment and showcases the evolution of television through CBS’s lineup of All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, revolutionary in their connection of plot lines to contemporary life, as well as M*A*S*H, which blended comedy and drama and introduced the 1970s trope of the sensitive man. While the music of the ’70s was rife with talent and broken barriers, Brownstein focuses only on Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and the Eagles as examples that transcended genres, and his coverage of politics is limited to Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda and the gubernatorial candidacy of Jerry Brown. The book covers blaxploitation films, Black-owned record labels, and the rise of female directors on television as indicators of forward movement.
VERDICT Brownstein spends much more time on the years before 1974 than actual events occurring that year, and much of the content is repetitive, but there are interesting backstories that fans of television history will enjoy.
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