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Episode 157 : Jim Farber on Glam Rock + Marc Bolan + Sinéad O'Connor

31 July 2023

In this episode, we invite acclaimed New York writer Jim Farber to tell us about his 50-year career and his experiences of "growing up gay to a Glam Rock soundtrack", to cite the title of a superb 2016 piece he wrote for The New York Times.

We start by asking the former Chief Music Critic of the New York Daily News about his Westchester County childhood and his formative musical memories. He explains how Alice Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' became a portal to both obsessive fandom and the urgent need to write about rock for CreemCircus and Rolling Stone. Additionally he recalls interviewing Robert Fripp for Creem in 1978 and then being reunited with King Crimson's prog-rock dissident in 2022 when the extraordinary In the Court of the Crimson King film came out.

After Barney quotes from "The Androgynous Mirror", Jim's brilliant essay for the 1998 book Rolling Stone: The Seventies, we discuss Glam Rock and listen to clips from Keith Altham's 1971 audio interview with T. Rex's Marc Bolan. A brief digression about Queen and Freddie Mercury leads to Jim's thoughts on the openly gay, overhyped and ill-fated Jobriath, who died 40 years ago this week.

The awful loss of Sinéad O'Connor on the eve of this episode's recording prompts reflections on the Irish singer's blazing talent and turbulent life — particularly from our guest, who interviewed her three times for the Daily News.

Finally, Mark quotes from newly-added library interviews with John Lennon and Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter, while Jasper wraps things up with notes on the Strokes (and the White Stripes) and Belle & Sebastian (and Norah Jones).

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Jim Farber. Follow him on Twitter @JimFarberMusic.