I started reading this book and found it was increasingly interesting because initially, I thought it would just be about Charley Patton and Jimmie Rodgers' music—but it isn't. It's actually about the musical and cultural history of where they came from and why they did what they did. Many claim that they weren't the first—and they probably weren't—but they were definitely important according to the cultural climate regarding race, music and the blues at the time.
There are many, many books about Robert Johnson and many that I have read, but this one has to be one of my favourites and a great book to read for any level of fan. Whether you are just on your route to discovering the blues king who sold his soul to the devil—or whether you've been listening to him for a few years now and have come to see many different aspects of his life, this is probably the ultimate book on everything Robert Johnson and every bit of possible research that you could want.
Three things that are certain in the lives of rock stars: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It is through these three things that make each one of their individual lives unique, fascinating, and worth reading about. If you are a fan of any rock star, then you may as well already know the consistent patterns of early drug use, quick rises to fame, and rags to riches stories. Rock stars live a life that we can only dream of, which makes these stories about their lives so fascinating to read about.
Fans of music always want to know more about the rock and roll lifestyle, or what the music scene was truly like at that time. There is no better conduit than some of best memoirs from some of the most respected artists in history.
I have had this book in my possession for over a month now, I believe. It has taken me that long to get through it. I am always reading more than one book at a time though, so that is part of the problem. However, it also took me a bit to get through it because it is both an interesting and a strange read. David Byrne is a talented guy, albeit somewhat crazy at times. That crazy shows through within the pages of this book, but so does his talent and his love of music.
Been a bit since I posted a review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles, mostly because this is not a book to be rush-read or even normally read (whatever pace that might be), but savored, and also because I've been writing some science fiction, and there's also the lure of the cool water and soft beach of Cape Cod Bay. But I wanted to record a few words about Sheffield's chapter on "Ticket to Ride", about as rich and satisfying an extended analysis you can find of a Beatles or any worthy song.
Rob Sheffield makes the case for Ringo in the next chapter of his stellar Dreaming the Beatles, putting the question regarding Ringo as whether he was an all-time genius drummer who made the Beatles possible, or "a clod who got lucky, the biggest fool who ever hit the big time". Sheffield puts his chips on the genius.
"Thoughts" is a book collection of poems, essays, and pictures written by Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, lead singer of TLC. She is known for her smoky and sultry yet unadulterated vocal stylings on all of the group's legendary albums. Actually, one of TLC's biggest hit songs was written by T-Boz and first appeared as a poem in "Thoughts" called "UnPretty". It was written about the unfair standards and pressure placed upon people to look a certain way, to adhere only to a certain standard of beauty. The song was well received.
Rob Sheffield's short chapter in his Dreaming the Beatles (actually, they're all short, which is good) is about "It Won't Be Long," and is about as fine a piece of music journalism, or rock 'n' roll analysis, or whatever you want to call it, as you can find. It's a holographic sample of why the book as a whole is so enjoyable and important.
I don't want to get too far into Rob Sheffield's addictive book without posting another review, so I thought I'd check in here after finishing a chapter on George, which comes after discussions of Ringo (which I talk about in my last review) and Paul and John, which are of course a part of every chapter.
In the next chapter of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles -- I just realized that the chapters are not numbered, which means that each chapter is a piece of a hologram, a snapshot of the whole, like a verse in many a song -- we get a deconstruction of "Dear Prudence," which Sheffield holds to be one of The Beatles' best, and I agree (though they have so many bests the term hasn't the usual meaning for me).
Among Rob Sheffield's many talents as a Beatles journalist -- not historian, because, as Sheffield convincingly demonstrates, the Beatles are far more important today than when they were writing and recording as a band, which back then was extraordinarily important indeed -- but among the delightful ways Sheffield makes his case is by fashioning his arguments from the Beatles' lyrics, so deftly that you don't even want a quote. Talking about John Lennon's unquenchable need to make a girl care, to make her "feel something," Sheffield concludes "Because if he doesn't reach her, the song is worthless and so is he. It's a love that lasts forever, it's a love that has no past".