May 2015, Hammersmith Apollo, London. Nick Cave finally responds to the crowd's baying requests and plaThis review first appeared at Addicted to Media
May 2015, Hammersmith Apollo, London. Nick Cave finally responds to the crowd's baying requests and plays "Staggerlee" from his 1995 album with the Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads. Transfixed, I stand watching the performance, hanging onto every word and think to myself, there's a great story behind this song.
And there is. In Christmas Eve 1895, "Stack Lee" Shelton entered the Bill Curtis Saloon in St Louis and got into an argument with Billy Lyons. Stack Lee mashed Lyons's hat and Lyons responded by grabbing his white Stetson. Stack Lee drew out his Smith & Wesson .44, Billy drew out his knife and bang! Stack Lee shot Lyons in the belly and left.
This is just one tale in a fantastic new collection of stories by Richard Polenberg. Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired "Stagolee," "John Henry," and Other Traditional American Folk Songs.
Painstakingly researched and thoroughly entertaining, in this book Polenberg describes the historical events and true stories behind America's most famous folk songs.
While some of these songs have been quite colourful (I'm thinking specifically of Nick Cave's "Staggerlee") that's nothing compared to the truth behind the lore and in many cases truth really is stranger than fiction.
There is the incredible story of Omie Wise, who was drowned in the Deep River, North Carolina in 1807. The murder of this pregnant woman over 200 years ago had quite the impact on the area and now there is a Naomi Falls, a Naomi Bridge and even a large cotton mill named Naomi Falls Manufacturing Company.
What is most notable about the collection is that beneath the entertainment value there is a real indictment of an inequitable and unfair legal system in which African Americans were very often guilty until proven innocent and in many cases they were convicted with the flimsiest of evidence.
In “Duncan and Brady”, we learn about Harry Duncan who was convicted for the murder of policeman James Brady. Testimony that would have exonerated him was dismissed as hearsay and the weapon used in the murder was not considered relevant for evidence. Of course, the sad stories that form the basis of our beloved folk songs aren’t always about wrongful convictions. There was no doubt that Frankie Silver killed her abusive husband Charles but no amount of public pressure and understanding of her predicament could prevent her from going to the gallows.
Not all of the stories behind our most famous songs are known. For example, nobody knows who first wrote ”House of the Rising Sun”, the most famous version of which was recorded by The Animals. There was once a Rising Sun Hotel in New Orleans but it burned down in 1822.
Given the subject matter, it is more likely that the song stems back to the colourful period where prostitution was legalised in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century. In the chapter “House of the Rising Sun”, Polenberg tells us about this period which included racial segregation of brothels and even a white pages of sorts to prevent patrons from being swindled.
Of course, some stories are so famous that they permeates ever corner of popular culture. No bandit has had more songs written about him than the outlaw Jesse James and he was of course the subject of the famous Brad Pitt film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (Incidentally, if you’ve never heard the superb score for the film by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, you should rush out and do so immediately).
Not only does Polenberg discuss the famous story of Frank and Jesse James, he also tells the less well known story of Cole Younger who so captured the imagination of people that songs about him were released during his own lifetime.
Fascinating and well-researched, Hear My Sad Story provides a backdrop to some of the world’s most famous folk songs. Listening to the old folk tracks on YouTube as I went along, I was fascinated by how many of the songs I recognised and was certainly familiar with some of the names like Frankie and Johnny and of course, Stagolee.
I give Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired "Stagolee," "John Henry," and Other Traditional American Folk Songs by Richard Polenberg a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend to lovers of blues, jazz and folk music and anyone whose imagination has been stimulated by a murder ballad....more
Gaza, 2014. Following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli youths, the IDF embarked on a seven week campaign against Gaza. In that time, over 2,000 Gazans were killed, most of them civilians and most of them children, while tens of thousands were injured. Hospitals, schools and houses were demolished and half a million Gazans were displaced.
The Gazan conflict divided people like no other conflict. Across social media, timelines were filled with people trying to draw attention to the devastation and destruction in Gaza while pro-Zionists asked what else they could do in the face of continuing Hamas aggression.
With access to Gaza notoriously controlled and restricted, there was limited reporting on the ground, scant consideration of everyday Palestinians who were living in a state of terror.
Edited by Vijay Prashad and featuring a host of writers, poets, essayists and activists, Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation attempts to give a human face to that struggle.
Reading this collection with a desire to learn more about the conflict from a Palestinian point of view, one might expect little more than anti-Israeli propaganda and rhetoric. Letters to Palestine is nothing of the sort. It is an earnest collection of essays, poems and diary excerpts that seeks to understand both the conflict and history of Palestine.
In his essay 'Bad Laws', Teju Cole talks about how what he terms 'cold violence' is exacted through a series of laws, by-laws and regulations that are all perfectly legal under Israeli law. Based as they are in restrictions on freedom and movement, he notes that these laws are in contravention with international standards and conventions. He mentions Sheikh Jarrah where Palestinians are slowly losing their permanent residency in East Jerusalem, where the right of return applies to Jews in East Jerusalem but not Palestinians.
"The historical suffering of Jewish people is real, but is no less real than, and does not in any way justify, the present oppression of Palestinians by Israeli Jews" – Teju Cole, ‘Bad Laws’, Letters to Palestine
In an excerpt from her 'Travel Diary' Noura Erakat begins by describing her anger and anti-Israeli sentiment but over the course of her journey to Palestine begins to develop a more nuanced position. She brings up the subject of privileged Palestinians, those who have done very well out of occupation and observes that not all Palestinians are good-hearted, not all Israelis 'evil'. While capturing the atmosphere in Palestine during her visit, Erakat mentions the work of Zochrot, an Israeli non-profit organisation whose aim is to raise awareness of the Palestinian Nakba and of New Profit who work towards the demilitarisation of Israel. Spanning over eleven days in May 2013, the diaries give a unique snapshot of a moment in Palestinian time.
"Israeli settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation should not cease because Palestinians are good and Israelis are bad"- Noura Erakat, ‘Travel Diary’, Letters to Palestine
Nalja Said shares her 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014' as a Palestinian living in America during the conflict. Intimate and painfully honest, Said's entries show her worry and despair for her loved ones in Gaza.
"If you think that Palestinians all hate Jews and are rejoicing in the deaths of those three boys (Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah), then you are a racist. That's all I have to say. As my dad used to say, ‘No one has a monopoly on suffering’" – Nalja Said, 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014', Letters to Palestine
"The boy who was killed was a cousin of my dear friends... You who are reading this are now two degrees from the murdered Palestinian - a child killed in revenge" – Nalja Said, 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014', Letters to Palestine
In 'Below Zero: In Gaza Before the Latest War', Ben Ehrenreich reminds us of the appalling conditions of loss, devastation, poverty and wretchedness in Gaza even before the war.
Interspersed throughout the collection is a series of heart-breaking, eye-opening poetry. Poems tell of Kafkaesque experiences of denied entry and the soul-destroying set up of the checkpoints. Notable entries include 'Until It Isn't' by Remi Kanazi, 'Afterwords' by Sinan Antoon and 'Running Orders' by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha.
"Prove you're human/ prove you stand on two legs/ Run" - Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, 'Running Orders', Letters to Palestine
The last part of the collection is dedicated to an examination of the Palestinian liberation movement in America and its links to the civil rights movement. For the most part, this was too US-centric to be of specific interest to foreign readers but there were some interesting parallels to be drawn to the South African and worldwide anti-Apartheid movement.
In 'Yes, I Said, "National Liberation"', Robin D G Kelly notes the intersection with Black rights and Ferguson, how the black civil rights movement moved from supporting Israel to recognising the injustices there.
It would be impossible to capture the scope of this collection here. Vijay Prashad has done an excellent job in curating a collection of short, powerful pieces that is each powerful in its own right. I would highly recommend this collection to anyone seeking to know more about the situation in Gaza both before and during the conflict last year. ...more
During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, most press correspondents huddled in the sThis review first featured on A Passion to Understand
During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, most press correspondents huddled in the safety of the distinctive yellow Holiday Inn in Sarajevo, sending out second-hand dispatches to news outlets back home. Anthony Loyd was never going to do that. In his memoir My War Gone By, I Miss It So Loyd travelled across Bosnia and Herzegovnia during the war of 1992-1995 and spent time in Grozny at the height of the First Chechen War. Now, to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Agreement, a new edition of Loyd’s memoir has been released with an updated foreword.
The prologue of My War Gone By, I Miss It So begins at the end of the Bosnian war, in the hills near Srebrenica. Withdrawing from drugs and newly clean, Loyd stumbles through a landscape peppered with corpses, witness to the aftermath of the Srebrenica genocide. It is an interesting place to begin, at the very end of the war, but by the end of the memoir we will see that this was not the most disturbing thing that Loyd saw in his time there. Moreover, by the end of the war, we will see that Loyd has come full circle in his life.
Armed with just a camera and pen, Loyd travelled over to Bosnia during the war after a stint in the military. Landing first in Sarajevo, he befriended a local family and spent his days dodging sniper bullets and trying to overcome the relentless boredom of war. Eager to see the frontlines, Loyd later travelled to various towns and villages in central and northern Bosnia where he met up with other members of the press corps and began to eke out a living as a war correspondent.
Loyd’s writing is brutally honest and in many passages he describes scenes and photographs that many of us would look away from or avoid. That is not to say that I don’t want to know, I really do, but at times his descriptions were so intimate and graphic that I felt somehow wrong reading the passages, as if I had somehow violated someone’s privacy. Such is the power of Loyd’s writing.
At many times in the memoir, Loyd mentions his eagerness to support the Bosniak cause on a moral level, to view them as the underdogs, but even this explicit bias is tested from time to time by the atrocities he sees. The saying goes that all is fair in love and war but that is utter rubbish, and what Loyd witnesses proves that all is twisted and futile in war instead.
It was the scenes in Grozny that were perhaps the most shocking. I’ve read a fair amount about the wars in the former Yugoslavia and felt somehow familiar with the subject matter when Loyd described his time in Bosnia and Herzegovnia. The chapter on the conflict on the ground in Grozny was disturbing to say the least. Loyd travels to the Chechen capital days before the fall of Grozny in February 1995 and what he witnesses is the utter meaningless and futility of war. It is especially moving in light of the way that history ultimately played out for the Chechens.
Again, my view of events in Bosnia might be influenced by all that I have read about the war and history of the region in the past but the only aspect of Loyd’s memoir that concerned me was his tendency to takes sides in the conflict. It is true that history and the subsequent trials have pretty much confirmed what he wrote almost 20 years ago but throughout the memoir I couldn’t shake the feeling that it would have been preferable if he had maintained a slightly more objective position.
In the foreword to the new edition, Loyd remarks how young and angry he was at the time of writing. It is interesting because while I might fault his objectivity, I never would have faulted his perspective which was infinitely more nuanced than anything I would have written back in the mid-90s when I was roughly the same age as him.
Nevertheless, I was riveted by the book from cover to cover and would highly recommend it to those interested in accounts of war or in the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular. Like the timeless photographs to which Loyd refers in his memoir, his book provides a unique glimpse into one of the most disturbing conflicts of the 20th century....more
This is such a powerful, important book that is especially relevant given the ongoing human rights abuses and torture, incarceration and slavery of ciThis is such a powerful, important book that is especially relevant given the ongoing human rights abuses and torture, incarceration and slavery of citizens in North Korea....more
It was the title that first caught my eye. Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt sounded both exoticThis review was first posted by me on Blogcritics.org.
It was the title that first caught my eye. Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt sounded both exotic and mysterious; it spoke to me of a bygone era of whimsical journeys to unknown lands, of music playing late into the night and the magic of discovering new cultures. Yet I hesitated before picking up this collection of tales from expats and visitors to the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. It is one thing to be an expat, to live and work in a foreign city, but would I relate to other people’s stories?
I needn’t have worried. Within moments of beginning to read Jacyntha England’s “First Snow”, I was lost in a land of -40°c winters and 40°c summers, a place where the kindness of strangers is superseded only by the welcoming warmth of friends and neighbours and where children can play together in courtyards until late in the balmy summer nights.
Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt Expat Stories from Kazakhstan book coverAs I moved through the collection, I began to take note of the stories I enjoyed until it became clear that there were going to be none that I didn’t enjoy. The book is divided into six sections including topics such as the arrival of Kazakhstan, Kazakh history and traditions, and cross-cultural exchanges and each was equally fascinating.
I found “Mourning on the Steppe: Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era Labor Camps”, Stanley Currier’s account of a visit to a former Soviet-era labour camp turned museum, to be especially moving and poignant. “Table of Unity” by Gualtiero Bestetti was a lovely story about introducing Kazakh friends to Western food and traditions whereas Raquel Taravilla Pujado discussed her first introduction to a full Kazakh meal in “Birthdays and Beshbarmak”.
My favourite story was editor Monica Neboli’s own contribution, the eponymous “Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt”, an authentic glimpse into life in the Kazakh village of Damba.
It was the stories in the final section entitled “The Silent Steppe” that impressed me the most and rather embarrassingly reduced me to the overuse of superlatives. “Dirt Roads, a Donkey and a Life Transformed” by Victoria Charbonneau was absolutely inspirational. Abraham Lincoln once said that “No man is so tall as when he stoops to help a child” and Charbonneau’s story is of what can be achieved through mentorship and support of a young person.
Rowena Haigh and Yolanda Cook contributed to the final story “The Long Horse Ride: Journey Across the Steppe” about the Kazakh leg of the endurance horse ride that started in Beijing after the 2008 Olympics and ended in London just before the 2012 Olympics. This collaboration was simply incredible and a wonderful conclusion to this collection.
While the authors in Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt come from all walks of life and all four corners of the globe, I was struck by the sameness of the expat experience. One by one the authors learn that the only way to overcome the grinding loneliness and sense of otherness as an expat is to get out there and interact with the local culture. This collection inspired me in ways that I had not expected and I would certainly recommend it to expats, lovers of travel and adventurers alike.
Drinking Camel’s Milk in the Yurt is published by Summertime Publishing.
Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad is by turns quite fascinating. It begins with a discussion of al-Assad's first years in office, the Damascus Spring and the increasing international pressure following 9/11 and the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri.
With its secularism and the overwhelmingly positive perceptions of Syrians of Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma, many thought that Syria would be immune to the effects of the Arab Spring. The next portion of the book discusses why many in the Syrian government, military and Assad's inner circle thought that Syria was different, including Assad himself. This is followed by a breakdown of precisely why Syria was no different to the rest of the countries in the region and the reasons behind the escalating protests.
The following two chapters are dedicated to the Syrian response to the uprisings compared to the mounting opposition and popular action that took place amid reports of increasing atrocities.
Of particular interest was the next section of the book dealing with the the often confounding international response. Lesch goes into some detail regarding the divisions within and between the member states in both the United Nations and the Arab League and their evolving affiliations to Syria during this time.
As the book draws to a close at the end of the summer of this year, what is particularly startling is that the government and president of Syria continue to give the same empty promises of reform and cooperation as they did two years ago.
Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad is an important book with valuable information covering both the background and current situation in Syria. The book does not go into much detail on the individual atrocities and massacres, other than to mention them and the consequences thereof, and the focus is on the background to the decisions made by key local, regional and international players.
It can be a little difficult to follow at times and the author does tend to jump back and forward in time, but I appreciate the layout of the book into clearly defined sections over the benefits that a strict chronological analysis would have brought.
I certainly recommend Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad to anyone interested in understanding the situation in Syria and would recommend it to academics and interested parties alike. Lesch makes a good attempt to present the book so that it will be accessible to non-academic readers....more
This book is incredible and although difficult to read, I am glad that I have read it. A full six months after I finished it, I continue to think abouThis book is incredible and although difficult to read, I am glad that I have read it. A full six months after I finished it, I continue to think about this story and look forward to reading more of the author's works.
An excerpt from my review on A Passion to Understand: "Treblinka Survivor: The Life and Death of Hershl Sperling is an extremely well-written book. It is an authentic historical account and not dry as one might imagine, but highly readable. Having said that, there were parts that I had to force my way through as the sense of horror builds and I realised that yet another mind-blowing revelation awaited me.
The book is especially powerful as the original testimony is interspersed with a huge body of research and the author's commentary. It is also corroborated by the testimony of other camp survivors as well as the meticulous records kept by the Nazis.
The accounts of life and death in Treblinka were shocking and may upset sensitive readers. This is simply the most disturbing book I've ever read. The accounts and descriptions were vivid and well-written and I found it hard to rid my mind of the images the book evoked"....more
**spoiler alert** This book was meant to tell the tale of how Lucille O'Neal emerged from humble beginning to raise one of the biggest sports stars th**spoiler alert** This book was meant to tell the tale of how Lucille O'Neal emerged from humble beginning to raise one of the biggest sports stars that ever set foot on earth, the magnificent Shaquille O'Neal. The problem is that she came from a comfortable, middle-class background and although her key relationships were notably cold and she lacked moral support from those she loved, her was still a life of privilege and stability. Lucille O'Neal is an inspiring and talented public speaker but has not expressed herself adequately in this book which makes the book sadly linear and one-dimensional. The key in an autobiography is to explain what events meant to you and how you grew from the experience but Lucille merely lists events and she also tends to lay blame outside of herself. Her cold and dissatisfying relationships are responsible for her teenage pregnancy and constant dinner parties and alcoholism when Shaquille was a boy and she takes it as a sign from above that she must divorce her husband. While her charisma and charm when she is speaking are enough to show how she has moved past the events in her life and grown from them, they are not present in the book and it lands up being sorely lacking.
Part travelogue, part memoir, A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns is a wonderful new book written by Denis Lipman. Former magician anPart travelogue, part memoir, A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns is a wonderful new book written by Denis Lipman. Former magician and playwright Denis grew up in Dagenham which is a little town in Essex, England but he moved to the USA over twenty years ago to find his fortune. A Yank Back to England chronicles Denis's annual visits back to England to see his aging, Cockney parents. While England is old news to him, his new wife Frances insists on seeing the countryside and convinces Denis to become a tourist in his old homeland.
The book is divided into six years but actually covers eight different visits. In all of the chapters, Denis and Frances hire out a cottage in the English countryside and are joined by Denis's parents Lew and Jessie and often by Denis's aunt and cousin too. Denis and Frances's gorgeous little girl Kate makes her appearance in Year Two.
While reading this wonderful travelogue, I was overcome by a desire to spend a summer holiday in a cottage in the English countryside and this feeling hasn't gone away. In fact, this is the kind of book that makes you want to follow in the Lipman's footsteps and the see all the things they saw, no matter how quirky or frustrating they were at times.
And they were quirky and frustrating. A Yank Back to England details shockingly bad service, classic English mediocrity and unpredictable English weather. Poor American Frances was quite bemused at times while I'm sure Denis was thinking "I told you so"! The massive appeal of this book though is that it takes you away from all of the traditional sights and sounds in England to ancient towns, stately homes, magnificent castles and a country so breathtakingly gorgeous when the sun is shining. The sense of heritage is amazing as the Lipman's encounter attractions from many different eras including Viking, Roman and several millennia of English history.
The most touching aspect of this story though is the relationship that Denis shared with his parents Lew and Jessie and how he came to respect and understand them over time. At times hilarious and at times incredibly touching, this is an lovely book that will certainly appeal to anglophiles. As I chuckled to myself while travelling on the London Underground each day, I realised that this is a book that will appeal to just about everyone but certainly lovers of travelogues, memoirs and humour. ...more
I've mentioned before my difficulty regarding biographies. By definition, a biography is going to introduce the bias and opinions of the author, and rI've mentioned before my difficulty regarding biographies. By definition, a biography is going to introduce the bias and opinions of the author, and reflect any limitations in that author's research.
This book is phenomenal and chronicles Che's entire life from a priviledged birth to his world famous execution. It is well researched and it is evident that the author spent years researching and writing this book. He has personally spoken to some of the most central figures in Che's life and as such, this text is valuable simply because that chance may never be seized again by any other biographer.
It was only after I finished the book and began to look up sources on the Internet that I discovered a potential flaw in this biography.
The author portrays Che as an absolute victim in the Bolivian expedition and in the circumstances leading up to his death. Even in his own Bolivian diary, Che acknowledged the mounting setbacks and failures but he did not present as an innocent victim.
I guess the facts speak for themselves, but knowing of Che's intelligence and ruthlessness doesn't detract from his beliefs or accomplishments and so it wasn't altogether necessary for the author to try coat his image in cotton wool. The one thing the text does do though, is neglect the fragile chess game that Che engaged in during his fight for survival in both the Congo and in Bolivia. He strategised and executed plan upon plan to survive, even though it is evident he made mistakes, relied upon mistaken assumptions, was "betrayed" by desperate and defeated cadres and was quite frankly abandoned by Castro.
Nevertheless, I absolutely recommend this book, but recommend too that it be supplemented with a healthy dose of independent research....more
This is a book that is not so much written by an author, but is edited in several sections by several men.
- It starts off with mobsters and the mafiThis is a book that is not so much written by an author, but is edited in several sections by several men.
- It starts off with mobsters and the mafia; - moves through gin crime and other crimes in 18th and 19th Century; - has a section on the Wild West and why bandits weren’t all that likeable after all; - moves through the slew of hoaxes and frauds that emerged in the late 19th century and through the 20th century , with fake biographies, false gurus and outright liars; - and it ends with the royal and political scandals of the last century.
It’s important to note that this is not a well written book, but it is well researched. It is also quite outdated, being written in 1993 and not sufficiently updated even though my edition was published in 2001. This is significant in the light of the various films that have been released on these stories in the past 13 years (the authors refer to popular media depictions) including the Aviator, the capture of Biggs, the death of both the Krays and the death of John Profumo. (Okay, I mentioned the last to see if you’re concentrating – he only died March this year and this couldn’t possibly feature in the book :0))
But it’s a great compendium of facts and trivia ad I’m really glad I read it. It’s made me quite keen to go on to other biographies and autobiographies now and that makes me happy.
I’ve made a decision to read other people’s reviews of biographies and autobiographies in future, even all non-fiction really. It is grating to hear sI’ve made a decision to read other people’s reviews of biographies and autobiographies in future, even all non-fiction really. It is grating to hear someone get opinionated about something they know nothing about and autobiographies can often be gratuitous attempts to resurrect dying careers.
Yes, yes, I’m still smarting from James “Britney’s Biographer” Blandfords attempts to chronicle a goddess and pretend he even knew what Doc Martens and Chelsea boots were.
The point is, had I actually adopted this credo before picking up Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, I’d have seen all the warnings. Reading comments such as “un-put-downable”, “found myself at 2am still reading it” and “couldn’t stop reading it” may just have given me an idea that this was a book to avoid. At all costs.
Tongue-in-cheek aside, this book is awesome and hopefully I’ll finish it in a day or so. The suspense in racing to the end, which is obviously the present, is almost killing me. I say almost, because I can’t die until I’ve finished this book.
It is quite hard to distinguish between my love for P J Harvey and this biography of her. First, I need to acknowledge what other readers said about tIt is quite hard to distinguish between my love for P J Harvey and this biography of her. First, I need to acknowledge what other readers said about the book. Other people have said that Blandford shows no insight whatsoever, that he has simply done an (admirable) literature survey and summarised 17 years of interviews with and articles on Polly. Admirable, yes. Worth a published biography, maybe not. I’d be more inclined to set up a website, perhaps an information resource for fans. I honestly have doubts as to whether Blandford has ever met Harvey, or whether he ever listened to any of her music. (I try not to be influenced by the fact that he first wrote a biography of Britney Spears). Given his frankly obscure comments on some of Polly’s music, as well as that of her contemporaries, I honestly have doubts as to whether he has in fact bought an “alternative” album in his life. And if he has met her and he has listened to her genre of music his entire life, why is it not showing in his writing? One small point of contention: He waxes lyrical about the Glastonbury set where Polly used a staff to beat out the rhythm to “Goodnight”. I was there, it wasn’t only one song. She did it during “To Bring You My Love”. My intention is not to “pull rank” or anything of the sort. However, if you’re going to mention something in four different places in your book, get your facts right. Better yet, try not to depend so heavily on other people’s reviews if you weren’t there to experience it first-hand yourself.
Am I glad I purchased the book? Yes. It is a nicely packaged reference manual of all her songs, collaborations, interviews and bootlegs. Am I enthusiastically awaiting the “authorised” biography whereby I may just learn a sliver of information about this intenseley private and brilliant woman? Of course.