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Music writer visits campus


Former 'Rolling Stone' editor stresses experimentation

By Mike D’Avria and Mike D’Avria



Many who have become successful sometimes have one great idea and then expand on it. That one idea could be anything, but one needs to know who it caters to and how to get it out to them. Experimenting on one's own and "following your nose" is the foundation of Michael Lydon's philosophy on writing.\nA founding editor of Rolling Stone, Lydon was on campus to speak to journalism students Thursday on writing, experimenting with new ideas and having a dream. \n"In elementary school, I knew I was a good writer and I liked to write. It was a God-given talent," Lydon said to a group of young journalists about his 35-year professional journalist career. \nHe graduated from Yale University with a degree in history and immediately received an internship with Newsweek's London bureau covering the blossoming youth culture and the new music that accompanied it. Lydon said he believes he got his chance to write about music when the older reporters he was working with "didn't get it." \n"I understood it -- it was on my wavelength," Lydon said. \nSome of the many musicians he has interviewed in his career include Janis Joplin, B.B. King, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lydon also mentioned that Lennon was much harder to interview than the Beatles' bass player.\n"John was tough and cynical. He wasn't mean, he was just John Lennon. Paul was the opposite, he had public relations charm down to a science," Lydon said.\nAfter a few years in London, Lydon came back to the States and lived right in the middle of San Francisco's music scene. After realizing that he was just feeding an editor in New York with his stories, he decided to freelance on his own. While this was all going on, he was also helping his friend Jann Wenner create a magazine that catered to the music fan. \n"Rolling Stone caught on right away," Lydon said about the magazine's huge initial fan base. "After the first issue, we were getting calls from everywhere -- it hit a nerve." \nHe explained that a magazine needs to survive by tuning to the right wavelength, and if it misses it goes under.\nLydon continued to talk about following one's own ideas and to try experimenting as he has done. Not only has he published many books, but he also has become a musician and performed at Borders last Friday.\n"I felt an enormous challenge from them (musicians). They would ask why I was sitting on the sidelines, jump in," he said about starting his own music career. "Playing music let me drop the notebook, and let me experience music more."\nOverall, Lydon has had a successful career with magazine, literature and music. He said he wants everyone to realize that experimenting with new ideas does sometimes pay off.\n"(Rolling Stone) was just created by just a bunch of young journalists that wanted to start a magazine," Lydon said. "I'm very proud for having been a part of that"

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