This is a pretty remarkable collection of essays and stories from a music critic who has befriended Dylan, Cash, Springsteen, and U2 over the years. HThis is a pretty remarkable collection of essays and stories from a music critic who has befriended Dylan, Cash, Springsteen, and U2 over the years. He's interviewed Janis, Elvis, Cobain, and Jack White. He enjoyed lunch with Stevie Wonder and shared Cornflakes and Hershey Bars with John Lennon. He takes us through his career by presenting the landmarks that interviews, encounters, and friendships with the royalty of rock allowed him.
We learn how he earned the trust of guarded artists like Dylan, and why musicians such as George Harrison and Garth Brooks put him on their "no interview" list. He makes you feel like you really know guys like Kris, Waylon, and Willie. He invites us inside the music and the lives of these artists, and if he ever sounds like he's bragging, well…he may be, though for someone who intimately knew so many of the music industry's titans, he almost sounds modest about it.
What he never appears to have done is cave in to egos. He would tell artists to their face why he felt a certain way about their songs, albums, or career. He hurt Michael Jackson's feelings (which apparently didn't take much) by praising Prince in front of him. Likewise, Hilburn had Prince so shaken up by a routine interview process, Prince cancelled all remaining interviews with journalists for that week and flew home to MN.
It's a fascinating look at how close music journalists can get to their subjects, how much their writing means to their subjects, and how much trust an artist will provide a writer when they present themselves as knowledgable and earnest.
This is a book well worth reading if you like any of the artists mentioned above, or just good music journalism. ...more
This was unusual in that I rarely read the book after seeing the movie, especially a movie which I have seen so many times. Certainly, much of the darThis was unusual in that I rarely read the book after seeing the movie, especially a movie which I have seen so many times. Certainly, much of the dark satire around our consumer culture, our spiritual dissatisfaction and ennui-manifesting-as-violence felt like a more fresh idea when this book first emerged. But the societal ills still remain, so it still feels pretty relevant. Just replace IKEA with Facebook and I think the song remains the same.
I was impressed with how faithful the film was to the book, and intrigued by the differences (where Tyler met our protagonist, Marla's mom's ashes, the changing of "I am Joe's..." to "I am Jack's..." when going from page to screen).
The criticisms of Fight Club are, in many respects, fair. There's a lot of poseur machismo going on here, but I see it as a criticism of it rather than an attempt to cater to it. Yes, Tyler attacks "the system" and then goes on to create one of his own, but it's one he cant' stop, which I think is the message here. Even revolution eventually leads to hierarchy and structure. The big plot twist seems less so in the rear view mirror, but at the time I saw the film, I was too caught up in the message to see it coming. And a lot of the "message" may seem trite, but a lot of it still rings very true to me.
I've been warned I may not appreciate some of Palahniuk's other work ("Rant" is my next foray) but "Fight Club" works for me, if only because it stirs up a sense of unrest that I believe needs confronting. It serves not only as a warning as to where our culture continues to slouch toward, but also the fatal mistakes we can make if we don't consider the proper path in righting our course. ...more
This is one of the funniest books I've encountered in a long, long time. Tina talks about her upbringing, her days at Second City, SNL, and 30 Rock, aThis is one of the funniest books I've encountered in a long, long time. Tina talks about her upbringing, her days at Second City, SNL, and 30 Rock, as well as the surreality of parenting, being a woman in a male-dominated field, and becoming a lightning rod of controversy for her time as Sarah Palin's doppelgänger. I particularly love her viewpoint as a woman working in show business and, specifically, in the world of comedy.
Through it all, she comes across as whip-smart, humble, down to earth, and the kind of celebrity who I'd love to share a cup of coffee with.
I opted for the audiobook, as I do for most books written by comedians or performers who then read their own work. It's critical to hear the timing and nuances of their material, and that really shines through here with Tina. She has so many clever asides and pitch-perfect delivery of her stories, it's really worth opting for the audio version.
I know I'm behind in reading this - it came out a few years ago and most folks who are Fey fans have likely already read it. If you haven't, do. Or better yet, have Tina read it to you. ...more
An evenhanded look at Dylan obsessives, from those who follow him on tour to those who have devoted their lives to unraveling his many mysteries.
My fAn evenhanded look at Dylan obsessives, from those who follow him on tour to those who have devoted their lives to unraveling his many mysteries.
My favorite line in the book, explaining an obsessed fan's desire to buy up as many Dylan artifacts as he could afford, including Bob's childhood home: "Once you own Bob Dylan's highchair, it becomes easy to rationalize any other purchase..."
I'll stick with owning the CDs, and letting Bob be Bob from a safe distance. He likes me better that way. ...more
The liner notes to the Robert Johnson box set which came out in the 1980's were so exhaustive and complete, there's not a whole lot for this very earnThe liner notes to the Robert Johnson box set which came out in the 1980's were so exhaustive and complete, there's not a whole lot for this very earnest author (Tom Graves) to add, but he does his best. Mostly, he tries to provide insights to Johnson's personality and dispel some of the mythology around his life, death, and that fateful night at the Crossroads. He claims his modest goal with the book is to create interest in Johnson's music for anyone for whom his book might be an entry point. For others, this might be a lot of rehashed information, but so little is known about Johnson, and his shadow looms so largely, it's worth the dive to explore what can be known...and personally, I'm grateful that mostly mystery remains. All that matters is that voice, and the mastery he brings to those guitar frets. ...more
This was truly a delightful book, and this coming from a guy who is typically more captivated by dark satire than romantic comedy. However, there's aThis was truly a delightful book, and this coming from a guy who is typically more captivated by dark satire than romantic comedy. However, there's a real Carrie Fisher wit to Fox's writing, and the situations and characters she creates are relatable, believable, and played out with heart and humor. I think for books in this genre to not fall into cliche, there has to be a distinct voice and opportunities for authentic humor, and Fox brings both of these to the forefront as she also shares a three dimensional life with us. We see Brook as a professional therapist, as a jilted girlfriend, as a struggling daughter, as a faithful friend. There's a lot to cherish in this story: people we recognize, situations we've experienced, and life lessons we either need or need reminding of. Eager to see what is next for Brook and for Phoebe Fox!...more