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Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  220 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
An engrossing and intimate portrait of the Oklahoma-based psychedelic pop band the Flaming Lips, cult heroes to millions of indie-rock fans.
In July 2002, the Flaming Lips released an ambitious album called "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, " which merged elements of orchestral pop, electronic dance music, and old-fashioned psychedelic rock with lyrical themes that were si
Paperback, 251 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Broadway Books
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Bookworm Sean
Aug 21, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it liked it
Is this a book review or just an excuse to rave about my favourite band?

Well, I think you’re going to have to tell me. I did read this book, and I did enjoy most of it. But for me the history of the band isn’t what’s important. What matters is the music. And their music seems to get better as they go on. I could listen to it all day.

Here are three tracks from three different albums that I highly recommend listening to:
Aug 13, 2011 Dusty rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
My love for the Lips sprouted in 2007, when, at a coffee shop in southern Texas a friend of mine (was he a friend? I don't remember his name) hijacked my MacBook and implanted a digital copy of The Soft Bulletin into iTunes. Unlike the author of this book, music critic Jim Derogatis, who seems to have followed the band closely at least since the late 1980s, I came to know the band's various albums in the order I could find them (Yoshimi second; the Ego Tripping EP third; Satellite Heart fourth; ...more
I learned more than I really needed to know about my favorite band, but they are my favorite band.
Mar 29, 2009 dirt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Guys with headaches who accidently save the world
You might be on the right track if people think what you're doing is weird.

These past few weeks I went on a Flaming Lips bender. I used to be a huge fan in high school and college, but love for them waned after the borderline adult contemporary release of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Then three weeks ago I was reading Wayne Coyne's essay in This I Believe II and it jump started something in my mind and heart. I listened to the latest Lips album At War with the Mystics and it practically brou
Sep 18, 2012 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I've only read one other of DeRogatis's books - his history of psychedelic rock (published first as "Kaleidoscope Eyes", then revised as "Turn On Your Mind..."). I quite enjoyed that and while I didn't agree with all of his opinions, he's a solid enough writer to make the subject matter engaging at all times.

"Staring At Sound" doesn't let you down that much, either. He tackles the long history of The Flaming Lips without bogging down in too much detail. I personally found the earlier years more
Ed Wagemann
Aug 06, 2015 Ed Wagemann rated it it was ok
Jim deRogatis does adequate research, but he's not much of a writer. Still the band is interesting enough to make this an interesting read. Its funny that since reading this I have noticed two recent TV commercials that seem to have Wayne Coyne impersonators in them. One is the previews for Meryl Steep's new movie Ricki and the Flash. He's not really a Coyne impersonator. He seems to be the guitar player in Streep's band and he has shaggy hair, a beard and wears a suit.
The Coyne other impersona
Jan 29, 2008 Steven rated it liked it
the flaming lips have been a source of great debate among most of the people i know who are very into listening to, talking about, dissecting, and ruminating about music. for those of you who have been with the band since the early days ( i first started listening to them in 1992 and they seemed ancient then) the evolution of the band is undeniable. some still prefer the early love/noise sound, the ronald jones era and despise the later orchestral, less darkness, incarnation that is all over the ...more
Serah-Marie McMahon
Dec 11, 2010 Serah-Marie McMahon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
I'd classify my self as a huge Flaming Lips fan, until I compare myself to the super fans they have, and then I'm just like medium-well. This book made me happy. I listened to each of the albums as DeRogatis worked though them and I heard new and interesting bits and pieces I'd never heard before. I kept reading chunks out loud to my husband until he told me to quit it because he now wanted to read it when I was done. There was a lot of new information and I was actually still entertained - unli ...more
Liz Berry
Sep 21, 2008 Liz Berry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fLippy fans
I really enjoyed reading this as it answered a lot of questions that I had about pivotal moments in the band's history as well as the personal lives of the members: when did Wayne get together with Michelle, who are the other special ladies in the other guys' lives, etc.

The only thing I didn't like was the musical dissection of the albums -- obviously I know what they sound like or I wouldn't be interested enough in them to read a whole BOOK about them.

Overall, it was very easy to read and get i
Mar 24, 2007 Ryan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves music
this is a great rock n roll book, and a well-reported and researched look at the Flaming Lips. anyone from Oklahoma will get extra jollies from the stories about places and people you know. and there's lots of Okie culture stuff that DeRogatis gets surprisingly right.
This is a glowing portrayal of the Lips, one of the great bands of the last 25 years, but it could have used some more balance. DeRogatis doesn't quite veer into hagiography, but it's an authorized biography after all, and he clearl
Jun 11, 2007 Jim rated it liked it
Recommends it for: indie music nerds
This was a pleasant surprise. People who don't like the Flaming Lips probably have no interest in this book. but if you're curious about the band's history, this book paints a pretty complete picture. And it's not just the soap opera "behind the scenes" drama: there's a lot of interesting stuff in here about the band in the studio.

Although if you like soap opera rock stuff, the bashing of Beck will probably whet your appetite.
Jan 29, 2009 Robyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
While I loved reading the story of the Flaming Lips, I absolutely hated the writer. Generally when I read a biography I like the author to keep himself out of the story unless the story is supposed to include him which wasn't the case here. There was way too much editorializing for my taste and I felt that he included certain details that weren't key components in the story just because he dug up some dirt.
Jun 12, 2010 Nihil rated it really liked it
If i idolize anyone, it's probably Wayne Coyne, or The Flaming Lips as an entity. This book is an easy, quick, interesting read. Derogatis's writing flows well- i would often realize it was late, and that i probably needed to sleep... i'd flip ahead to see how many pages were left in the chapter... 12? 15? They flew by. The later chapters seemed a bit sparse compared to the earlier ones, but all in all, i really like this book.
Marissa Barbieri
Jun 11, 2008 Marissa Barbieri marked it as to-read
I bought this just before moving and it somehow got lost in the shuffle for awhile there. I ADORE the Lips, and have heard good things from other fanatics about this book - now I just have to wait for the urge to read about some "facts" again.
May 11, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it
I love the flaming lips and this book definitely adds a lot of the background to their legend. derogatis knows his shit about bands and he has an intimate history with the lips, so the book is honest. which means sometimes brutal (sorry, wayne's ego). good read for any fan though, for sho'.
Sep 05, 2010 Paulus rated it really liked it
Great band with an absolutely fascinating history. DeRogatis did a great job on this one. Together with the Fearless Freaks documentary it gives a great insight into this unique band.
May 22, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Being a proud, born and bread Okie, I take a lot of pride in The Flaming Lips and have been a fan and listened to their music for going on a couple of decades now. Despite my familiarity with the band, their various stages of sound, the comings and goings of band members--I still found this history a worthy addition to the genre of rock biographies. My personal favorite era of the shape-shifting history of the band is the Ronald Jones on guitar diptych of "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart" ...more
Nicholas Why
May 15, 2014 Nicholas Why rated it really liked it
Being a long time Flaming Lips fan, the fascinating bits were when they made some nutty musical ideas work or the druggy escapades of their multi - instrumentalist. Sample song title: Pilot Can At The Queer Of God. Fab song btw.
Oct 11, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
intriguing overview of the brand's history and eccentricities. album by album. only just an average fan of Flaming Lips music and got hooked into their story.
Feb 22, 2014 Harley rated it really liked it
A decent biography of one of the greatest bands mankind has produced. I would have liked more of an insight into Steven Drozd, as he is a musical genius, but was still very satisfied with the book.
Aaron rated it liked it
Aug 25, 2012
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Mar 10, 2015
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Jennifer Hansen rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2009
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Mar 31, 2016
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James "Jim" DeRogatis (born 1964 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an American music critic. DeRogatis has written articles for magazines such as Spin, Guitar World and Modern Drummer. He is also the Pop Music Critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He often tries to separate himself from other music critics by promoting bands that have not yet become widely popular, but are close to doing so.

More about Jim Derogatis...

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