Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Rock Biography

My fondness for music extends to its history and associated literature, and when it comes to musical literature nothing irritates me more than the rock biography. If the author takes a back seat and simply concentrates on the artist, then fine, but quite often the author is compelled to include themselves in their story. I appreciate that authors need to spend time with their subject, sometimes as a participant observer, but when authors then include themselves as part of the bigger picture, an accomplice on their subject’s rocky road to infamy, then that’s where I draw the line and the book goes in the oven.

The reality of these books is that as much as we like the music we also want to hear the stories of rock‘n’roll excess. That’s really why we buy the book. We want to be shocked, amazed, disgusted and also a little jealous. Then we too, just like that author, get to repeat those great stories with some authority. We believe these insights help us identify with the artist, though the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We are reading about a lifestyle we could never hope to achieve, and, if truth be told, a lifestyle completely unsuited to most of us. Which brings me back to that pesky author.

It’s not uncommon in the standard rock biography for the author to get somewhat over-enthusiastic and include himself (I say ‘himself’ because they are invariably male) in some vainglorious attempt to impress upon us just how crazy he is. But let’s face it, who really cares? Be your stories true or fantasy we just don’t care about you - the only reason we are reading your book is because of your choice of subject matter. Give us the booze, the drugs, the parties, the near death experiences, the music, in fact give us anything but you.

Here is music journalist extraordinaire, Dave Bluez, and his insightful history of popular music... READ HERE.



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