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The music of 1970s Detroit inspires new coming of age novel

Michael Zadoorian
Doug Coombe
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Author Michael Zadoorian's new novel tells a coming of age story centered around the music of 1970s Detroit.

No matter your age or your generation, the music you listened to in high school claims a special place in your heart.

Many kids use music to help overcome the trials and tribulations of adolescence. 

Michael Zadoorian’s new novel Beautiful Music centers around one of those kids. He talked to Stateside about how the music of 1970s Detroit inspired the book. 

This is Zadoorian’s third novel, he has also written the Second Hand, The Leisure Seeker, and a collection of stories called The Last Tiki Palaces in Detroit. In Beautiful Music, insecure teenager Danny Yzemski uses radio to get him through Redford High School and trouble at home. 

The story begins in 1969, just two years after the '67 uprising, and still an uneasy time in Detroit.

“There is all this rage and fear and ugliness and all the white flight going on, but there is also all this music happening too that's in the air as well. And we start off the book and Danny is listening to CKLW, which has really turned out to be an iconic radio station,” Zadoorian said. 

Zadoorian had always been interested in this idea of coming of age through music.

“It's not a super literary thing to say that your book was inspired a little bit by a movie, but I love Almost Famous — the Cameron Crowe film —  which is very much the same era as this book,” Zadoorian said. “I sorta wanted to write my own version of that, only in Detroit where no one is famous. That was important to me.”

Listen above to hear more about the story and themes explored in Beautiful Music. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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