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Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us
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Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  738 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Drooling fanatic, n. 1. One who drools in the presence of beloved rock stars. 2. Any of a genus of rock-and-roll wannabes/geeks who walk around with songs constantly ringing in their ears, own more than 3,000 albums, and fall in love with at least one record per week.

With a life that’s spanned the phonographic era and the digital age, Steve Almond lives to Rawk. Like you,...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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RandomAnthony
I know guys like Steve Almond. They kind of wear me out. These guys go to concerts on weeknights and read Pitchfork every morning. I do not, under any circumstances, want to engage in conversation with Steve Almond and his brethren about anything but especially not about music. I’d rather read the book he wrote about the topic and enjoy the freedom to hit the pause button whenever I want rather than pretend I have to pee when his beery breakdown of why Captain Beefheart is more important than Pe...more
Ed Wagemann
Here is a letter I recently sent to the publisher of a book called Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life:

Hi, I just finished reading your book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life and I’d like to review it for my blog: Rockism101. Before I write my review I’d like to share some of my thoughts about your book with you and give you a chance to comment on these thoughts.

For the first 100 plus pages or so I had a hard time trying to figure out what the point of this book was. Maybe I was confused by the t...more
Neil
This started off so well...

Almond writes hilariously in defining the Drooling Fanatic, the obsessive rock music nut. He breaks down the lyrics of famous songs like Toto's Africa and Air Supply's All Out of Love, showing their stunning silliness. I loved the section where he talks about being moved by songs that you know are tripe. I loved his chronology of the different music formats and how they have affected the DF. I loved the section about music that you love one day, hate later. The early l...more
Tyler Jones
Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life (Which, for the sake of brevity, shall be henceforth referred to here as RRWSYL) is Steve Almonds' highly personal account of being a musical "drooling fanatic" - a person to whom the soundtrack of life is so important that life itself often has to pause until the right tune is found. What makes RRWSYL so much better than merely a passionate, heartfelt examination of the power of music is that Almond examines his feelings with such exactitude and honesty that he...more
Sarah
Steve Almond is a good writer. He chooses his words and his images carefully. And I wouldn't care about it one bit if he hadn't also managed to squeeze such truthy truth into this book. It's a pretty introspective book. Even though the title says save your life, the examples he uses are highly personal. A lot of the bands and musicians he name-checks are people who never reached the type of fame that would make them accessible as examples. For that reason, the online soundtrack is an excellent a...more
Topher
Wow, this was actually painful. I'm not quite sure who this book is for. My estimation is that it's for people who don't particularly care much about rock and roll or writing. Imagine if the particular part of Chuck Klosterman's brain responsible for his musical taste, pop culture sensibilities, and knack for weaving both into an engaging narrative, was somehow lobotomized. Or, pretend the passion and heartfelt connection to tunes, no matter how (arguably) cheesy, that make Rob Sheffield's books...more
paula
Apparently all my contemporaries are writing right now. I just found out, for example, that Carrie Bradshaw (and, one assumes, Candace Bushnell) is/are just about exactly my age. In her book "The Carrie Diaries," she references Jimmy Carter and the Gremlin.

But Carrie Bradshaw listens to Aztec Two-Step, and right then and there I knew she could never be my friend.

Steve Almond knows what I'm saying here. Steve Almond gave up on a woman after a weekend of bananas sex because she listened to Air Sup...more
Ted
The first half of this book was quite good, but Almond got bogged down in chapters that were more solipsistic than informative. Almond is clearly a bright guy (having completed an advanced degree and taught writing at the college level), but his own writing tends to bounce between low and high brow suggesting he's having trouble reconciling his younger, more rebellious self with his more mature, analytic side. Also, while I really enjoyed his reflections on the music industry, love of certain so...more
Chris
If you're going to use a promise as your title, you'd better deliver. In his sixth book, " Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us (With Bitchin' Soundtrack)," Steve Almond presents a memoir wrapped in a collection of observations about music and packaged as a source of salvation. The book is a rock fan bildungsroman in which Almond offers personal anecdotes related to his lifelong love of music. His story is interwoven with some cultural analysis of what it me...more
Alison
I'm stuck (again) between three and four stars: on the one hand, I'd give four stars for the writer's funny self-deprecating voice, which he employs at the same time as writing some very beautiful, literary descriptions (he's also an accomplished fiction writer); for the subject matter itself (because I, too, am the kind of Drooling Fanatic he describes in the book); and for the painfully hilarious relatability of certain specific sections (such as the Chapter 4, which details the span of musica...more
Superstition Review
“This is what songs do, even dumb pop songs: they remind us that emotions are not an inconvenient and vaguely embarrassing aspect of the human enterprise but its central purpose. They make us feel specific things we might never have felt otherwise.”

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life is a book that targets the fanatical love each person has inside them, regardless of whether the love is for music, like Almond’s, or for movies, knitting, cooking, or anything really. Tied together with humorous, en...more
Malbadeen
It's hard for me to be objective about this book because I love so much about Steve Almond. For me it's a 5 because everything that I thought maybe didn't exactly work, I forgave due to his fanaticism, which is what the book is about so how do you judge him for that?

Unlike My Life in Heavy Metal (his first and probably forever my favorite book)I wasn't grabbing for an underlining pencil but I was saying a sometimes silent and frequently loud "yes!" to page after page. I was reminiscing and giggl...more
Tina Hamilton
By now, many of you know that one of my favorite books is "Candy Freak" by Steve Almond (he visits independent candy makers throughout the United States). A must read, especially if you like candy.

This book does not disappoint. Much of Almond's young adulthood and adulthood has revolved around candy and music. He is a self-described "Drooling Fanatic" when it comes to certain bands. He's DJ'd, written for many music mags, gone on the road with bands, and so on. Many of the bands he loves and fol...more
Jeff
Given what I do for a living, I should probably dislike this book for no reason other than Almond's early insistence that rock criticism is impossible and useless. I see his point, though I disagree -- but more importantly, the rest of the book is full of funny, touching stories about Almond's life as a so-called Drooling Fanatic, including passionate essays about some of his favorite musicians (many of whom are on my own list).

Bottom line -- if you love music, Steve Almond comes across as the k...more
Bruce
Feb 28, 2014 Bruce rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: music-lovers, armchair psychologists
This is terrific... 4.5 stars, really. I picked it up after I came across a video of the author reading his take-down of Toto's Africa, the full transcript of which can be found in this book. Watch that video, and you may as I did come to Rock and Roll expecting something of a cross between pop music criticism and a collection of humorous essays. However, that's not what this book is about at all.

Almond presents a rather emo memoir of his life to date through his evolving musical influences, exp...more
Valarie
Jun 01, 2010 Valarie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: other drooling fanatics
Not intended to be taken terribly seriously, but it is truly written by a drooling fanatic. Lists and all. The book paralleled my life except for the inescapable fact that I have a chicken feathers' width worth of humility and shame and Almond clearly doesn't. But then none of the pieces I've written delved into the lives of my subjects like his does, so I guess that's the trade-off.


Hannah Jo Parker
Of course I'm giving it 5 stars. It's funny. It's heartfelt. And, it's about rock and roll. Or, more precisely, drooling rock and roll fanatics. Like me!

If you get a chance to see Steve Almond read in person, do it. I saw him at Elliott Bay Books last Friday and he was fabulous. I will be suggesting this book to many library patrons, and buying it for friends, I'm sure.
Myfanwy
A gorgeously honest coming-of-(middle)age for Generation X. Yes, it's a book about music, but more than that it is a love story--a love of lyrics and emotion and a love of those the people who share the love of certain songs with us. Simply put: a great read.
Sarah
Feb 08, 2013 Sarah added it
Shelves: music
I have never laughed out loud at a book the way I did at this one. It's about music, and growing up, and culture, and writing. And awkwardness and oversharing. Also, it's a bit, well, raunchy.

But so, so funny and true.
Terry Collins
Music fans, be prepared to bear witness to your own behaviors as "Drooling Fanatics" and inhale this non-fiction collection of essays and lists with open eyes and a wounded heart. I'm a longtime Almond fan (started with Candy Freak), and happy to report his distinct voice and worldview is fully on display. His thought process and view of how music is valuable to all of us, but for a much narrower selection of humanity, music takes on a higher purpose and carries a deeper power. I'm still ponderi...more
A.K. Benninghofen
This rating may seem sort of over-the-top for this type of book, but I can't help it - a favorite writer on a favorite subject. Loved every word of it!
Benjamin

As someone that spends a disproportionate amount of time listening to and thinking about rock music, I tend to read a lot of books that can loosely be described as personal music memoirs. I always hope that these books are going to offer some insight into the listening experience and why it's so important to people like me but they usually devolve into treatises on the author's favorite musicians and extensive laments on why these artists are not more popular. "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life"...more
Angie

“The only thing wrong with music, as far as I’m concerned, is that you cannot eat it.”

I fell in love with that statement. As an admitted music and concert junky, I couldn’t wait to dive into this book. Steve Almond nailed it time and time again in his attempts to explain the mind of a Drooling Fanatic. I’ve always said that there isn’t a single memory I have that doesn’t have an internal soundtrack playing in my head. That usually garners a few odd looks from people that don’t *get* it. All I c...more
Gina
Kind of disappointing. My sisters and I loved Candyfreak, even though at times there were elements of Almond's personality and need to overshare that tainted it. We have also loved other music-themed literature, like Rob Sheffield's writing or Rock on by Dan Kennedy. It just seemed natural that we would like this book.

The problem is even more of Almond. I guess it makes sense. He may have loved candy, but the connection to music is bound to be more personal, and so he inserts a lot more of his n...more
Matt
Picked this one up on a whim and on sale. I ended up racing through it in two days (not bad at the height of exam-marking season) and found it a mostly enjoyable read. I had never read any other Steve Almond, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, Almond is--despite his claim to have abandoned that type of writing long ago--a brilliant music critic. His passion for music almost leaps off the page at you and is complimented by an online soundtrack fou...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Another book review in which I don’t review the book. Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life by Steve Almond, whose prose I’ve declared my love for in numerous forums.

Why do I love Steve Almond’s writing so much? There are a few possibilities:

•It’s a Jewish thing. Latent, undisclosed issues. This guy is Jewish.
•He and his wife joked about naming their first child Peanut Almond.
•I’m sexually-obsessed (see previous blog).
•His narration incorporates my favorite things: strong first-person voice with s...more
Ken
This book is a look at the author's experiences in the field of professional writing while fueling his addiction to all forms of music, popular and otherwise. He advances the thesis that there are people who are, what he calls- "DF's", ( Drooling Fanatics). These are people who are far beyond mere 'fan-hood', but individuals who put music, and all things connected to it, above every other aspect of their lives. I thought his test to determine if you might be one of these people was kind of cleve...more
Keri
Aug 23, 2010 Keri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Keri by: Jen
Steve Almond found me out. I am a Drooling Fanatic of the Concert Queen variety. While I know that my friend Jen, who loaned me the book, is of the same breed and I, it was fun to read that we are not alone and that what we think of as quirky behaviors are considered sane by some.

I especially enjoyed the exegeses, the interludes and the lists. Drooling Fanatics are ALL ABOUT the lists (best concerts, desert island discs, bands on the bucket list, etc.) And while I am analytical by nature, I can'...more
Chris
Steve Almond is a drooling fanatic. That's his phrase, but if you feel the way he does about rock and popular music, you will immediately recognize him as a kindred spirit. At times, Almond can be funny in a semi-detached, almost satirical way, like P.J. O'Rourke, but more often he is absolutely earnest and unapologetic about his fanaticism, and that is ultimately what makes all of his ecstasy and longing so infectious. His stories of meeting his musical heroes, forging bonds with others over mu...more
Christopher Long
Submitted for your approval, "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life," the latest offering from author, music critic, and self-confessed "drooling fanatic," Steve Almond. Once-alienated drooling fanatics around the world now have cause to rejoice as we've finally found an official spiritual leader -- a fanatical messiah in Almond.

Yet despite the glorified title, the music celebrated throughout the book's 213 pages actually takes a backseat to the central character, Almond, through his witty and compe...more
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Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the non-fiction book Candyfreak, and the novel Which Brings Me to You, co-written with Julianna Baggott. He lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine.
More about Steve Almond...
Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America My Life in Heavy Metal: Stories Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions (Not that You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories

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“It's like this when you fall hard for a musician. It's a crush with religious overtones. You listen to the songs and you memorize the words and the notes and this is a form of prayer. You attend the shows and this is the liturgy. You're interested in relics -- guitar picks, set lists, the sweaty napkin applied to His brow. You set up shrines in your room. It's not just about the music. It's about who you are when you listen to the music and who you wish to be and the way a particular song can bridge that gap, can make you feel the abrupt thrill of absolute faith.” 17 likes
“The connection being that in my head all language began in song and that the best stories inevitably reutrn to song, to a state of rapture. For years, I had assumed that throwing beautiful words at the page would make my prose feel true. But I had the process exactly backward. It was truth that lifted the language into beauty and toward song. It was a matter of doing what Joe Henry did, of pursuing characters into moments of emotional truth and slowing down. The result was a compression of sensual and psychological detail that released the rhythm and melody in language itself, what Longfellow called "the happy accidents of language.” 6 likes
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