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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

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 Ratings  ·  148 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,
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2010)
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Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
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
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Tyler Jones
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pop-music
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
Oct 31, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, music
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
Feb 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-ish
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
Peri Dotty
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it

I wish I'd realized that this was more of a ~memoir. I'd read Almond's Candy Freak and enjoyed it enough to seek out his other books. I was expecting something like that. Oops!

Apparently women who like music are all sex-starved groupies and men who like music are the 'true' fans. Taste in music is realized through older brothers and if you don't have one, you're SOL. Only teenage boys can be the genuine arbiters of which sorts of music are "good."

In the few chapters I managed to get thro
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
May 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lars
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
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“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
Sep 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
May 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Tina Hamilton
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Hannah Jo Parker
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Colleen Wainwright
Wonderful writing and a memoir using music as a lens is brilliant. I suspect that our musical experiences vary enough that I had trouble identifying with a lot of this. (But I checked out a few of his "desert island" albums and we have at least some areas of overlap.) Probably a perfect read for a music-head who loves articulate, honest writing that's self-revelatory.
May 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.

Jan 28, 2013 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.
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
A.K. Benninghofen
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
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!
Jennifer Spiegel
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
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
Nicole Woolaston
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music-nonfiction
I thought this was just going to be an account of different bands and musicians, but it turned out to be a bit of an autobiography. This was a very interesting read. I liked the way the author relayed stories of how he met certain musicians, and how much music impacted his life.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A low five but it gets bonus points for saying nice things about someone who used to live across the street from me. I can't decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that some of the musicians he writes about are so obscure that I can't find their recordings in my library.
Justin A Stover
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
a hilarious, endlessly re-readable memoir of sorts about a guy who is way better at relating to music than to people.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
still one of my fave authors....who keeps delivering the goods in top notch style.
Yard Gnome
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the finest book I have read in years, and it felt somewhat uncomfortably like an autobiography written about me, and about many dear fine souls I've called friends over the years. Many reflective and nostalgic moments in this book, not the least of which was finding that the person to own this book previously drew a heart around the name Ornette Coleman, whom Steve Almond remarks upon in the context of his excellent contributions to the Joe Henry album, Scar.

Interestingly enough, I saw
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: music-lovers, armchair psychologists
Shelves: arts
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
Steve Almond won my heart with his zany adventure through the world of candy in 2004's Candyfreak. Although, I have heard he doesn't even eat candy anymore. His fervent devotion to candy made him a reliable narrator, and his journey was hilarious and sometimes saddening (what with the BIG CORPORATE CANDY MAKERS pushing out the little guys.)
Now he's back with more of his fervent devotion, or as he calls himself, a Drooling Fanatic to music, Rock & Roll to be more precise. He offers the same

“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
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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
“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.” 21 likes
“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. Every time I listen to "Sunday Bloody Sunday," for instance, I feel a pugnacious righteousness about the fate of the Irish people. I hear that thwacking military drumbeat and Bono starts wailing about the news he heard today and I'm basically ready to enlist in the IRA and stomp some British Protestant Imperialist Ass, hell yes, bring on the fucking bangers and mash and let's get this McJihad started.” 9 likes
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