The success of an oral history of the music scene is dependent on two factors: access and timing. For an account to be worthwhile you need to talk to the lead singers and the drummers, to the manager who tried to make his clients’ careers and the drug dealer who tried to derail them. But start seeking interviewees too soon and they’ll be overly worried about their friendships, reputations and prospects to offer anything beyond coy evasion. Wait too late and the memories will have hardened into stale anecdotes already recorded in a dozen retrospectives.
Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom is a model of the genre. Although her focus is geographically small – she concentrates on the half-dozen or so New York bands that enjoyed success between 2001 and 2011, plus a few others that were passing through (such as Glasgow’s Franz