I had to read this book for a research project. I swear.
Truth to be told, I had long ago read Pamela Des Barres classic I’m With The Band and knew what to expect. Sort of. That first book was more…innocent is not the right word…but more a period piece, from one woman’s perspective. Sure…there was a lot of sex, but it was more about Ms. Des Barres, her personal story and growth, and more of an insight into the original groupie culture, and the contributions — as they saw them — these women brought to musicians outside of the carnal delights.
I should have been tipped off by the sub-title: “Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies.” This one is simply a hit-list, compiled from Des Barres’ interviews with the “queens” of the late 60s and 70s groupie set who are still around to tell their tales. Many of them, however, tease that they are saving the best bits for their own upcoming tell-alls. Still, there was plenty to dish; names, size, positions, techniques, even a giant wart — it’s all there.
What’s not there is the “muse” angle; it’s completely overshadowed by the aforementioned dishing. Three pages into her introduction, Des Barres offers up the dictionary definition of a “muse;” a source of inspiration; a guiding spirit.” But few espouse that side, in fact it’s really only Bebe Buell and Catherine James who stay true to that ideal, and Buell doesn’t dish on sexual liaisons at all. She abhors the word "groupie,” and even calls out one of the more famous groupies immortalized in song (“Sweet, sweet Connie, doing here act…”). Buell closes out her chapter thusly: “Either we’ve got to take back the word groupie; we’ve got to come up with another one, or we’ve got to educate people as to what it actually means.”
Des Barres ends that conversation with “That’s what I’m hoping to do.” Sadly, the very next chapter, subtitle “Dangerous But Worth The Risk” is simply another body count of sexual detail — more perspiration than inspiration. There’s a part of me that wants to go back and read Des Barre’s first book to see if my recollections of the spirit of that groundbreaking book are still valid. But, then, I realize, that this is the problem, and it’s the reason I ultimately found Let’s Spend The Night Together a bit sad: times have changed, You can’t go home again. And maybe we do need a new word.