Johnny Goldstein – An Elegy For The Lost City
Johnny Goldstein is a Woodstock Generation New Orleanian, forced upriver to St. Louis by life’s circumstance. An award-winning songwriter/composer, guitarist, beloved teacher and producer and now, an author, Goldstein was influenced by Dickens, Twain, John Irving, Vonnegut, Kozinski and Koontz. He’s an easily-crazed Cardinal fan, a passionate cook, gardener and critter lover, and much to his surprise– for the last 30 years a serious meditator, preternaturally drawn to an ancient Tibetan lineage.
An Elegy for the Lost City is based on three characters from Goldstein’s original songs. The fiction series would not exist had his performing career not been ended by a 2006 car accident.
Like the musical child prodigy at the center of Elegy, Goldstein grew up listening to Satchmo and Louie Prima; later he attended Tulane University in New Orleans. The author formed a visceral, spiritual connection to the city in much the same way another character in his novel responds: “I felt as if I was more completely alive than I had ever been before; a resonance that I was meant to be in New Orleans.”
After hanging up his rock ‘n roll shoes at 35, and hardened with a cynicism forged through failure in his chosen “art,” he took these nifty skills to the corporate world of PR and advertising, becoming what he calls “your typically basic music biz whore”
“An Elegy for the Lost City” is the first volume in this multimedia series of books and audiobooks. It contains over 100 pieces of music and some spoken word. This is an audiobook review, so it’s not your typical music item. However it does contain a lot of great music. Johnny Goldstein isn’t your average music artist since 2006, and this approach is as good as any for an author or musician to get their passions across. The music is very smooth jazz oriented and if that’s up your alley, then you will enjoy this gem. The production is super clear and everything blends together in the mix very well. You will feel New Orleans as it wears on, and it’s delightful that way. It opens with a couple of good music pieces before the third begins the story entitled “July 6th, 1971” and Goldstein himself begins narrating how that was the day Louie Armstrong died. His accent is warm and engaging as he tells of the ambiance around that day. Then it’s “Hurricane Season” as he continues the story with music playing in the background. He talks about how he’s meant to be in New Orleans. The smell, the familiarity of rot iron mixed with jazz musicians and about how this mysterious blend of culture, food and spirits can’t be found anywhere else. He can’t explain it any other way, he’s home. “Light In The Loafers” continues the story by way of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath factors. It’s a suggestive piece with some great live club atmosphere that brings out more Louie Armstrong as it all pertains. He describes the music as hard to play. And then he goes just a tad Arlo Guthrie and tells a thing or two sounding just like him. This only lasts briefly but you seem to get a vibe that he likes Alice’s Restaurant. But that quickly passes and some Beatles music comes into play on “Special Gurls.” And he goes onto talk about life itself. This also includes David Bowie in the background. This also deals with health and drug addiction. By this time you are heavy into the story and definitely want to read the book to get a better perspective of it all. More talk of the category five tragedy of the hurricane continues into “Deja Vieux Carre’ and this is a different sort of folksy tune that starts out with a jazz piece that throws you off. But then he comes in talking about how New Orleans effected the Doobie Brothers and even the Grateful Dead. It involves description of one of the famous streets “Tulu” and a show including the Neville’s. Congo Square gets a mention. This is followed by more aftermath tragedy, 2006 marking ten years. Now things get cooler with a Sonny Landreth tune once he introduces him. This would entice any blues lover to the book, as it begins to sell it to me. The story continues with mentions of southwest elevation. Landreth soling away in the background makes it all the more interesting. The book carries on and on with a lot of great music, mentions of the Superdome and everything. You can’t help but get into it. There is some profanity as Goldstein holds nothing too much back in expressing himself in a bittersweet way, but it’s New Orleans he’s talking about. But perhaps it does knock a point off for me. It takes nothing away from the whole project though, as readers are used to graphic descriptions that go way beyond his here. Goldstein never hides his feeling and gets very descriptive with words like “Incendiary” to describe the industrial but musical atmosphere in the deep-south. Imitating Harry Connick Jr is funny too. You can hear the laughter coming from Goldstein as he describe the oyster bar atmosphere. I recommend this book, especially to blues, jazz and southern culture and heritage lovers. But most of all to both music and book lovers.