Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 More Days Book Challenge: Day 29

As we wrap up the book challenge, don't forget to check us out and "like" our Facebook page.  If we get to 500 fans, I'll post the picture of Gianna with the camel toe.  We post new, occasionally book related, material there every day.  We'll still be posting to the blog too, but we may take a few more days off.

Day 29: Books By or About Musicians.

Hell.  I don't really listen to music.  I would focus on Gianna's list for quality on this topic.  Most of my favorite songs were originally performed by Muppets.  I don't know what the hell I'm going to write about.


Look into my eyes...
...and my soul, like glass.
My favorite book about or by a musician is by icon and personal shero; Celine Dion. Celine Dion: My Story, My Dream; Your Nightmare. My mother lives in Las Vegas (retired showgirl) and I spent time… a lot of the Celine Dion gift shop. Mugs, champagne glasses, shirts, scarves…beautiful scarves (to hang one's self I assume), letter openers (not quite sharp enough to slit your wrist during a show), CD’s, books, perfume, watches (so you can literally see time fly during one of her shows…or seem like time is at a standstill), key chains, magnets, bracelets, charms, pins (almost sharp enough to poke your eyes out), hats, shorts (always keep an extra pair in case you shit yourself when she hits that high note) and photos! So many photos, Celine in every pose you can imagine, and if you are like me, you’ve imagined them all. The one thing they didn’t have….ear plugs. Now don’t be writing any hate mail, I am just kidding, she really is…something. [For the record, it's worth tracking down Celine's book for the truly excellent photo section in the middle.  She writes awesome captions; things like "This photo really captures my soul in its beauty."  I'm not kidding.]

Okay let me add a few more books to this blog – in fact let me make a top five list. I could do top ten easily but Liz gets mad when I steal her thunder.  [I have thunder?  I really have no ideas whatsoever for this blog.]

I am lucky enough to have seen Boy George. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Saw him maybe 15 years ago in Miami and he was fantastic! I also got my copy of Take it Like a Man signed. Too many rock memoirs gloss over the bad bits…Boy takes the high road here and lays it all out – with much humor I might add. One of my favorite stories he tells is a sad/hilarious story about having a meal with Annie Lennox. Mid-way through the meal he passes out, which is bad, but when he wakes up he begins to sing one of Annie’s songs (very loudly). I believe the song was You Must be Talking to an Angel and I also believe Annie ended up walking out. Boy George also describes the punk scene in London during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s which is really fun.

I think the book that kept me off drugs is And I Don’t Want to Live This Life by Deborah Spungen, mother of Nancy. I read this book while in high school and found it absolutely mesmerizing. Again, it’s a great look at the music/punk scene during the 1970’s, but also a story about a lost girl obviously suffering from depression who becomes a horrible drug addict. Nothing good happens in this book by the way. Nothing. Sid and Nancy…. [I have never heard of any of these people.]

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang is, in my opinion, the best contribution on the early hip hop scene. Chang was criticized for leaving certain people out of the book (Eminem for one) and for glossing over others (Missy Eliot for example), but I think when you write a book like this there will always be griping.

Rat Girl by Kristen Hersh is an example of her pure genius. This memoir is taken from a year of Hersh’s diary when she was a teenager and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. You won't find a more beautifully written memoir by a musician – actually written by that musician. By the way, Kristen Hersh is hilarious' you should follow her on Twitter or Facebook. I could talk forever about Kristen so if you want to call, please do.

“Before you can make good music, you just have to shut up. Then the music can say what it has to say.” K Hersh

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman. This is my favorite Klosterman book; nothing goes better with rock & roll than a road trip.

Okay so that’s my five but as a bonus I want to mention the 33 1/3 series. Writers or fellow musicians choose a band, singer, or an album to write an essay about; simple ideas are usually the best ideas and this series is fantastic. They even have a Celine one! So you are getting a top ten list within a top five list which is almost unheard of in list making. In no particular order:

  1.    Meat is Murder The Smiths 1985 by Joe Pernice
  2.    Sign O the Times Prince 1987 by Michaelangelo Matos (I love Prince BTW)
  3.    Born in the U.S.A. -Bruce Springsteen 1984 by Geoffrey Himes
  4.    It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back -Public Enemy 1988 by Christopher R. Wein
  5.    69 Love Songs-The Magnetic Fields 1999 by LD Beghtol
  6.    Court and Spark 1974 Joni Mitchell by Sean Nelson
  7.    Actung Baby U2 1991 by Stephen Catanzarite
  8.    XO Elliot Smith 1998 by Mathew Lemay
  9.    Rid of Me PJ Harvey 1993 by Kate Schatz
  10.    Bee Thousand Guided by Voices 1994 by Marc Woodworth


Crap.  Crap crap crap.  I've got nothing.  


Still thinking.....

(Taking a break to scour my shelves for anything at all that's related to music and wondering if Marcel Marceau's miming counts....)

OOH!  I found something.  I loved Rodney Crowell's memoir Chinaberry Sidewalks about growing up in East Texas.  And Crowell's a singer to boot.  He managed to turn a hardscrabble, honky tonk childhood into a successful songwriting career.  And he writes brilliantly.  I attended Crowell's performance and book signing at BookPeople in Austin earlier this year, and it was hands down the best author appearance I've ever seen.  I could have listened to him read, tell stories, and sing for hours.  This book will appear in my top ten list for the year.

Is Toni Morrison is a do-wop group?  No?  Okay, that's all I've got.

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