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  • gilwilson 5:45 PM on May 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: music, ,   

    “Counting Down the Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs” by Jim Beviglia 

    Counting Down the Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs 26708836
    by Jim Beviglia
    Series: Counting Down
    Hardcover: 222 pages
    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 5, 2015)

    The counting down series created by Jim Beviglia had me intrigued from the beginning. First off I’m a huge fan of music, all music, not just the Rolling Stones.  The other 2 books (so far) in the “Countdown” series by Beviglia are Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.  Having finished the Dylan book and absorbing it all in, I decided to pick this one up next, I don’t think there’s any particular order to read these and some folks may only read their favorite artists.  Being a fan of the 3 I will be reading them all, but not just because I’m a fan of the artists.

    Jim Beviglia counts down the songs in such a way as to provoke some serious thought and insightful listening.  In fact, while reading the Dylan countdown I broke out my Dylan lyrics book and would read the lyrics before reading the section on each song.  For the Dylan book it seemed more appropriate than listening to the songs since Dylan is the bard of modern lyrics.  Beviglia would talk about the multiple meanings of lyrics, the musicians involved with each song and the recording process.  This time around I had to go one step further.  I figured The Stones’ lyrics are pretty simple and didn’t need to look up the lyrics.  I was actually pretty wrong on that aspect.  What I did do is have my phone handy and searched YouTube for original videos and would listen to each song as I read the section on each of Beviglia’s top 100 Stones songs.

    This made for some pretty cool moments in which as I listened to the song and read the lyrics mentioned while reading would come through on the audio.  Now while counting down great songs by any musician is a bit of a selfish endeavor, Beviglia explains that his list is not the end all, be all, but I found I agreed on many of the songs, there were a few I would re-arrange the order, or maybe some I would drop off the list entirely, but getting the insight on musicians, writing and producing the songs was a great reward.

    Now to see what he has to say about the Boss.

    Publisher’s Summary
    No band has ever been able to demonstrate the enduring power of rock and roll quite like the Rolling Stones, who continue to enthrall, provoke, and invigorate their legions of fans more than fifty years since they began. In Counting Down the Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs, rock writer Jim Beviglia dares to rank the band’s finest 100 songs in descending order.

    Beviglia provides an insightful explanation about why each song deserves its place. Looking at the story behind the song and supplying a fresh take on the musical and lyrical content, he illuminates these unforgettable songs for new and diehard fans alike. Taken together, the individual entries in Counting Down the Rolling Stones tell a fascinating story of the unique personalities and incredible talents that made the Stones a band for the ages.

    Counting Down the Rolling Stones is the perfect playlist builder, whether it is for the longtime fan or the newbie just getting acquainted with the work of Mick, Keith, and the boys.

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  • gilwilson 6:04 PM on May 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bob dylan, folk music, lyrics, music,   

    “Counting Down Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs” by Jim Beviglia 

    Counting Down Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs17436987
    by Jim Beviglia
    Series: Counting Down
    Hardcover: 216 pages
    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
    (July 11, 2013)

    The counting down series created by Jim Beviglia had me intrigued from the beginning. First off I’m a huge fan of music, all music, not just Bob Dylan.  The other 2 books (so far) in the “Countdown” series by Beviglia are The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.  Being a fan of the 3 I will be reading them all, but not just because I’m a fan of the artists.

    Jim Beviglia counts down the songs in such a way as to provoke some serious thought and insightful listening.  In fact, while reading the this countdown I broke out my Dylan lyrics book and would read the lyrics before reading the section on each song.  It seemed more appropriate than listening to the songs since Dylan is the bard of modern lyrics.  Beviglia would talk about the multiple meanings of lyrics, the musicians involved with each song and the recording process.

    Perfect for any Bob Dylan fan. You may not agree with the order of the songs but the analysis that goes into each song is well researched. I even found a few songs that could be interpreted in other ways I hadn’t considered.

    I have to put in a request to Mr. Beviglia:  the next 2 countdowns I’d like to see are Frank Zappa and The Grateful Dead. Now to see what he has to say about the Rolling Stones.

    Publisher’s Summary
    Counting Down is a unique series of titles designed to select the best songs or musical works from major performance artists and composers in an age of design-your-own playlists.

    For fifty years, Bob Dylan’s music has been a source of wonder to his fans and endless fodder for analysis by music critics. In Counting Down Bob Dylan, rock journalist Jim Beviglia dares to rank these songs in descending order from Dylan’s 100th best to his #1 song. Surveying the near six-decade career of this musical legend, Beviglia offers insightful analyses into the music and lyrics and dishes out important historical information and fascinating trivia to explain why these 100 rank among Dylan’s best to date. At the same time, a portrait of the seemingly inscrutable Dylan emerges through the words of his finest songs, providing both the perfect introduction to his work and a comprehensive new take on this master of American songwriting.

    This work will appeal to the legions of Bob Dylan fans who have taken to analyzing his music. Unlike other Dylan books, which vary between the academic and the journalistic, Counting Down Bob Dylan uniquely renders Dylan’s music approachable to new fans by highlighting the powerful emotional forces that fuel his dazzling lyrics.

     
  • gilwilson 4:00 PM on January 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , duke ellington, , music, swing   

    Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington By: Terry Teachout 

    Duke: A Life of Duke EllingtonBy: Terry Teachout
    b93z-square-1536Narrated by: Peter Francis James
    Length: 17 hrs and 43 mins
    Release date: 10-17-13
    Publisher: Penguin Audio

    Any faithful reader or former faithful reader of this blog may notice that I’m posting on a steady basis again. Yes, but…. You may also see that it’s a daily post. Yes, but… Before the buts get stacked up I want to say that It seemed like I took a hiatus from the reviews. I sort of did at least posting the reviews. I would still write them up or at least outline them. So now I spent some time putting them all together and setting them up to post on a regular basis until I get caught up. I don’t want to overwhelm you so I set up the auto posting to do one a day until I get caught up, which may take a while.  So let’s get back to it.

    Once again I visit a biography, this time around I delve into the Jazz & Swing music with this Duke Ellington biography. Terry Teachout knew exactly what I wanted in a biography. Just the facts without too many details. Most of the time the details can go off in a tangent that starts to get too much like a tabloid publication. Sure it’s nice to hear some sordid details just not all. Teachout has the perfect blend of details and tells a great story about the life of one of Jazz’s greats.

    Publisher’s Summary

    A major new biography of Duke Ellington from the acclaimed author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.

    Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the twentieth century – and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand. The grandson of a slave, he dropped out of high school to become one of the world’s most famous musicians, a showman of incomparable suavity who was as comfortable in Carnegie Hall as in the nightclubs where he honed his style. He wrote some fifteen hundred compositions, many of which, like “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady,” remain beloved standards, and he sought inspiration in an endless string of transient lovers, concealing his inner self behind a smiling mask of flowery language and ironic charm.

    As the biographer of Louis Armstrong, Terry Teachout is uniquely qualified to tell the story of the public and private lives of Duke Ellington. Duke peels away countless layers of Ellington’s evasion and public deception to tell the unvarnished truth about the creative genius who inspired Miles Davis to say, “All the musicians should get together one certain day and get down on their knees and thank Duke.”

    ©2013 Terry Teachout (P)2013 Penguin Audio

    This book will not only guide you through the good and bad times of the Duke, but also it gives the reader/listener a feel for how the music biz was run in the early to mid 20th Century. I was surprised at how much of music at the time was a collaborative effort, whether by choice or just flat out stealing other peoples works.

    While Terry Teachout writes about the specific events in the Duke’s life he also goes into very nice details on specific songs, so much so that halfway through the book I went and grabbed as many Ellington recordings I could find. Working in radio really came in handy there. I even found a 78rpm pressing of “Perdido” which was awesome to hear. Sure it was a bit hissy and scratchy but I could just visualize someone in the day sitting around the Victrola and enjoying some Jazz. Teachout describes the music so well that once I received the recordings I would listen at times to the music and the audiobook at the same time. It would have been really nice for the publisher to do that for the audiobook but licensing issues I completely understand.

    The narrator, Peter Francis James’s voice was perfect for this book. After listening to this book I saw him on some of my favorite television shows (CW Tv’s Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow) and was glad to see his face matched pretty well what I was picturing in my head. Great delivery for this great biography of a Jazz Great.

     
  • gilwilson 11:40 PM on April 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 80s, , , david morrissey, glam rock, morrissey, music, , punk rock, the smiths   

    Audiobook Review: “Autobiography” by Morrissey 

    morrissey

    Audiobook Review: “Autobiography”
    by Morrissey
    read by David Morrissey
    published by Penguin Audio
    12 hrs and 44 mins

    I can’t exactly say why I picked up this audiobook, but in the end, I’m glad I did. I would never consider myself with a Morrissey fan or even a Smiths fan, only by the reason that I was never really exposed to Morrissey. The weird thing is that I work in radio, but never have been exposed to his music. After listening to this audiobook, actually right about the middle of the book when I found out who some of his musical influences were some of my favorites, such as the New York Dolls and David Bowie, I dug out some of his music and gave him a listen. After hours of watching YouTube videos and listening to various sources of Morrissey’s work with the Smiths and his solo work, I became a fan.

    Before actually listening to this audiobook I had only heard of Morrissey as the subject of humor, even once in a skit in the cult television show, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” I had always heard he was a mopey, depression inducing singer/songwriter. I have since learned my lesson and with my new found appreciation of his life I can see how his songwriting would lean toward a mopey, depression inducing realm of music, but most of what I heard was just plain good music.

    In fact not knowing the artist, I even made my own joke (half-hearted) when I saw that David Morrissey had been cast as The Governor in the television series “The Walking Dead.” Using the the idea that they shared the last name I had posted via social media that The Walking Dead was going to get a mopey Governor who will depress everyone with his singing. (I didn’t say it was a good joke.) Then I saw on the list of upcoming books from Penguin I saw that David Morrissey was going to be reading the Morrissey autobiography, in my mind I saw it as synchronicity so I just had to give this book a listen. David Morrissey delivers this audiobook as if it were a performance, not just any performance, but he delivers it as though it is not a mere audiobook, but a classical play. Listening to this performance the listener can hear that Morrissey has a way with words that turns even the prose describing his life becomes musical. David Morrissey’s excellent vocal performance blended in with Morrissey’s words creates one of the most artistic pieces of non-fiction ever written. If this audiobook isn’t up for every award available it will be a pure shame.

    So what is the listener in store for? To start out not a lot of happiness, but when the happy times arrive even Morrissey can find a way to make them melancholy. Morrissey suffered the same school system as, if not worse than, that depicted in the movie and album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. From the sound of the description of the teachers, these guys should never have been allowed to be in charge of shaping and molding children’s minds and futures. I’m guessing that Great Britain didn’t have much of a screening process in the way of hiring teachers between WWII and through the 70s.

    Speaking of the 70s, that’s when this audiobook gets to be fun, so get past Morrissey’s early school days and be prepared to have a fun romp through 70s music. It all starts with Morrissey discovering the pre-punk days of music with the New York Dolls and David Bowie. This is the decade that seems to have best musically shaped Morrissey and led to the creation of The Smiths.

    This then leads to all sorts of legal problems between the band members and the record labels that begins to shape Morrissey’s solo career. Finally getting the recognition he deserves Morrissey is still constantly haunted by his former bandmates and the relationships between them and record labels not adequately promoting his music, but he carries on and his attitude is clear throughout the book. Even his hatred for Margaret Thatcher is fully represented, as well as his animal activism. The man knows what he stands for and is not afraid to express it. This book could very well be included on any Smiths or Morrissey fans audio shelf right next to their Morrissey music collection.

     

     
  • gilwilson 4:41 PM on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , music, peter macon, rastafarianism, , , timothy white   

    Audiobook Review: “Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley” By Timothy White 

    Catch-a-Fire-2811773

    “Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley”

    By Timothy White

    Read by Peter Macon

    Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

    Length 17.0 hrs

     

     

    All my life I’ve been fascinated with music, I’ve never been able to play an instrument but have loved listening to music.  I listen, enjoy and appreciate all genres of music, some genres I just appreciate for what they are trying to do, but I get it.   I never had the patience to learn an instrument but I could play a record, 8-track, cassette or CD so I went into a broadcasting career.

     

    One thing I have noticed is that not only does it take a lot of patience but there is something else that makes a star a star.  I read a lot of musician biographies and many times that something is passed down from generations of musicians.  So with great genes comes great talent.  Well not always.  This biography of Bob Marley demonstrates that while Marley had the talent for music, he also had a very unique spiritual background that led to his music breaking boundaries and pushing a new form of music, Reggae, into the mainstream.

     

    I was actually surprised by the content of this audiobook in that it offered much more than just a history of Bob Marley and his music.  Timothy White created a whole feel for the whys and wherefores of Marley, Jamaica and Reggae music.  In this book the listener gets a bit of a rounded education in religion with the history of Rastafarianism.  While I had heard of Rastafarianism (what Bob Marley fan hasn’t?) I had never heard of it’s origins until this book.  White covers the history of this religion all the way back to King Solomon.  I was intrigued by all the rich history this religion absorbs.

     

    Continuing the education created by Timothy White, the listener gets a lesson in the history of Jamaica and the development of the island’s politics and scandals.  Along with this history the history of the music scene of Jamaica is covered in depth and how Reggae came about.  Of course, the meat of this book is the life of Bob Marley but all these histories explain in detail how Marley was influenced not only musically but spiritually and politically as well.  This explains how Marley is able to influence many generations of music fans for years to come.

     

    The reader of this book was outstanding.  Peter Macon was able to bring this biography to full-color audio life with his vocal skills.  Talking in Jamaican, British or African accents Macon made this book come to life and with his rich deep voice for the normal narration made this book an easy listen.

     
  • gilwilson 11:42 PM on November 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , autiobiography, , , , classic rock, hybrid cars, keith carradine, music, neil young, , phlanthropy   

    “Waging Heavy Peace” by Neil Young 

    “Waging Heavy Peace”
    by Neil Young
    read by Keith Carradine
    Published by Penguin Audio
    approx. 12.5 hours

    Being a classic rock fan, when I heard that Neil Young was publishing an autobiography I had to read it, then when I found out that it was in audiobook form, I jumped. Reading, or in this case, listening to, a biography of someone famous can be a bit tricky and especially so when it comes to an autobiography. Most of the time when the biography is written you get a person that has interviewed and/or followed a person or sometimes just did some research and interviewed people surrounding the subject. As a consumer of the biography you are then subject to the writers whims on what goes in or not and not always get the full picture of their subject. In the case of an autobiography you are sometimes only treated with what the person wants you to know. They can still be informative and give some insight to that person but keep in mind there’s always another side of the story.

    I know that since Neil Young wrote this himself he may or may not have glossed over some parts of his history. But once the book is started, a feel for the determination of Mr. Young to get out everything he finds important is clear. Neil has written this book in a manner that seems like, as the listener of the audiobook, you are just hanging out with him and he is telling stories of his life, past and present, and of his interest. The book is very conversational in delivery and sporadic as to which part of his life is being discussed. It is definitely not a linear biography listing all his achievements from birth to present.

    The book’s reader, Keith Carradine, superbly captures the voice of Neil Young and delivers this audiobook with great passion. When I first saw that it wasn’t read by Neil himself I was, to be honest, a bit upset. I would have loved to hear him tell his story. However, just a few minutes into the book and I soon forgot all about that and was relieved that Keith Carradine not only presented the material perfectly (after all he is a great actor) but he also was able to portray Neil Young’s life from these words that at times it seemed as though you were listening to Neil Young trying to do a Keith Carradine impression. No, Carradine doesn’t try to impersonate Young, it’s just that he is able to use his acting abilities to bring out the emotions of the stories that make this book a great listen.

    Okay, so, where to start? Basically this book is Neil’s life from his early days as a teenage musician in Canada to his life today where he has many interests that mostly center around his love of music, both creating and listening. The way the book is laid out is as though the listener/reader is just having a conversation about what is going on in his life now and every once in a while a memory is stirred up and a backstory has to be told.

    The book contains a very nice history of Buffalo Springfield, a bit of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and a lifetime of events with Crazy Horse. Throughout the book I felt as though Neil and I were walking around on his ranch and he was showing off his current interests and something would spark up a memory and we’d be launched into a story of the past. This is especially true when he talks about cars.

    Neil Young loves his cars, and has a collection on his ranch of various cars throughout the years. He loves his cars so much that he names every one of them, there’s the old tour bus, which was severely modified, named Pocahontas, a car named Nanoo the Lovesick Moose and lots of others. Each vehicle would spark a story of how it was acquired and what was going on in his life at the moment.

    What I found to be most interesting was the LincVolt which is a 1959 Lincoln Continental that has been modified to be a Hybrid with a biomass fuel run generator. He’s trying to perfect the LincVolt to prove that environmental conscious vehicles don’t have to be tiny battery run cars. He and a team of engineers are perfecting this dream of his. Not only does he care about the environment he’s gone so far as to develop this project to do something about it.

    At first you may think, yeah he’s just a rockstar with money to throw at a project but you may be as surprised as I was to find out he was part owner of Lionel, LLC, a company that makes toy trains and model railroad accessories. In 2008 Lionel emerged from bankruptcy and his shares of the company were wiped out, But he was instrumental in the design of the Lionel Legacy control system for model trains, and remains on the board of directors of Lionel. He also has been named as co-inventor on seven U.S. Patents related to model trains. The beginning of the book has Neil talking about this love of his, and when he transitions to creation of the LincVolt it all makes sense, rather than just thinking “That guy that sang ‘Old Man’ invented an electric car?”

    That’s not all he’s into, he’s also working on a music delivery sound that will enable to allow the listener to hear the full sound of music just as though they were in the studio with the musician. Since the release of CDs into the music industry the sound quality of recordings as dropped severly. While CDs have serious sound loss, the advent of mp3s has made things even worse. Mp3 files are so compressed and lossy that the listener is only getting about five percent of the actual sound. This is what is meant when audiophiles say that vinyl records are warmer sounding, since vinyl is analog the compression doesn’t exist and the quality of the recording is near perfect. Neil has created a system that was originally called PureTone but since that name was taken the name had to be changed. The system is now called Pono and reportedly able to deliver the full sound of a recording.

    This autobiography could have stopped there but when he talks about his life with and love for his children made him seem like a great human being. His two sons have Cerebral Palsy the youngest being a paraplegic because of the disease. His love and care for his sons shows in the words chosen and the things he’s done for them. His battles with epilepsy mixed in with his battles with record labels rounds out to show that Neil Young is his own person and nothing will stop him.

    Musician, inventor, philanthropist and humanitarian, Neil Young has lived a life of interest and this book brings it all into the light, the good with the bad, and ends with him contemplating the meaning of life. One of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read or heard.

     
  • gilwilson 7:54 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , education, gary marcus, guitar, guitar hero, guitar zero, learning, music, , , ,   

    “Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning” by Gary Marcus 

    “Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning”by Gary Marcus
    read by (and with music performed by) the author
    published by Penguin Audio
    5 hours and 33 minutes

    I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I decided to give this book a listen but I’m very glad I did take the time. All my life, I’ve wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, I’ve tried the guitar, I’ve tried the keyboards (yeah I would say piano, but when I wanted to be in a new wave band, we called them keyboards), I even tried the harmonica. But like the author Gary Marcus, I had a bad sense of rhythm. Even when I tried breakdancing, I was good until the rhythm became an issue. So what’s a fella to do? After all they say that If you want to become a musician you have to start out when you’re younger, because your brain is wired in such a way at younger ages you can learn and absorb. Gary Marcus, is a research psychologist whose work focuses on language, biology, and the mind at New York University, sets out to find out whether that myth is true. Marcus wants to learn guitar and thinking he has no sense of rhythm, he can’t even play the video game “Guitar Hero” without getting booed off the virtual stage.

    What turns out to be one man’s search for whether or not he is too old to learn guitar turns out to be a very unique book that discusses the science of learning and then develops into the science behind music, creativity, thinking and training. As I listened to the book each chapter would engross me more and more when topics would be explored. Marcus used many musical examples and interviews in the revealing process. Some of the items mentioned are how Jimi Hendrix would modify his guitar to make it do what he wanted, how Hendrix spent every living moment with his guitar. How Pat Metheny says he never stops learning and practicing. How Bob Dylan decided to go away from the traditional folk music scene and start writing unique lyrics.

    Lots and lots of great modern music history references as well as examples in studies as to how the mind works and what all is involved in becoming musical. Basically it all comes down to all you folks that play Guitar Hero or even Rock Band and think, “Hey, I can do this for real,” and then go to pick up a real guitar only to get frustrated, Gary Marcus explains why you can press colored buttons in perfect rhythm but may not be able to master a real guitar anytime real soon. First of all the body and the mind have to learn many things. The body needs to learn to press down strings on a fret board in positions the human fingers weren’t meant to be in. There’s also the varying amount of pressure it takes to hold down the strings to get the right sound, the memorization of different notes and chord placements. Then there’s the ear training, what each note sounds like and what notes work with other notes (same with chords). Very different from colored buttons on a plastic guitar mold controller.

    Not only does the author cover the science behind playing instruments but he also discusses the science behind creativity. There is a section when talking about the difference between being musical and being creative where Steve Vai says that while he can play every single not Jimi Hendrix played and make it sound exactly like what Hendrix did, what gets him is how he was able to come up with the ideas in the first place. Which brings up another aspect of being a musician, whether one is born with the ability or if it is learned and if so why are some people more apt to be musical.

    This book is perfect for the professional musician or the novice and better yet for anyone with just the slightest interest in music. Another person that would benefit from this book would be anyone in the education field. So I guess just about anyone would find something in this book that would pique their interest, especially if personal re-invention is in the works and someone is seeking to reach their full potential.

    What I got out of the book is not only the old adage of “practice makes perfect” but how to make that practice more perfect for me.

     
    • Jeff 8:34 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I was interested in reading your review of this when I saw you were listening to it. I’ve played guitar since college. In fact, the first good guitar I bought was a cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard similar to the one on the cover. I’ve never tried Guitar Hero as it seemed silly and nothing remotely the same as actual playing. I hope you revisit learning to play guitar, if that’s what interests you. –JEFF

      Like

    • gilwilson 8:49 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Jeff, I may try again, especially since I have watched my step-son excel. I had the guitar (an old yamaha classical w/ nylon strings, yeah I wanted the fat fretboard) sitting around gathering dust and my , then 11 year old, step-son asked if he could check it out. Sure, no problem, I was too frustrated w/ my fat fingers and lack of coordination. Jump to now, he turned 19 today, and the “kid” is a musical genius. I watch him play and think wow, could I have done that? Of course he spent every waking moment playing guitar from the time he picked that guitar up to today. Not only did he have the talent but he’s developed it into something phenomenal and out of jealousy I may have to try to learn again. That means I’ll ask him to give me lessons.

      Like

  • gilwilson 10:19 PM on August 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , james fox, joe hurley, , keith richards, , music, ,   

    “Life” by Keith Richards & James Fox 

    “Life”
    by Keith Richards & James Fox
    Read by Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley & Keith Richards
    Produced by Hachette Audio (2010)
    Approx 24 hours.

    I think I may have read one of the most intriguing and entertaining autobiographies ever.  “Life,” the story of Keith Richards and his life in and out of the Rolling Stones.  The Stones were/are one of the world’s biggest bands and the stuff of rock and roll legend.  I never was a big fan of the Stones before, but after listening to this audio book I am now.  Working in radio I have played a few of their tunes and even had a couple of favorites, but I guess I never really gave them a chance.

    What has made me a fan most of all is something I found extremely surprising in this audiobook, the easy flow of the story beginning with Keith Richards’ early life and just rolling along through his life, warts and all.  Also the idea presented that Richards’ is a pretty laid back guy.  He had his ups and downs with drug addiction, which he discusses through this book, but the amazing thing is that he didn’t really have anything bad to say about anybody.  Most celebrity biographies/autobiographies, the celeb has a beef with someone or several someones.  Or there is an expose feel to a biography which has a purpose of poking at wounds.  Keith did have conflicts with people, such as Brian Jones and later with Mick Jagger and a few in between, but each time Keith presented it by always taking the blame for some of the turmoil.  He never blamed and there was no fingerpointing and there was no beef with anyone that he had to get out.  Keith simply told his story and left it at that.

    Many times throughout the book Keith turns the storytelling over to other people due to them having a different perspective, some of the other people are Marlon (his son), Bobby Keys, and just about anyone else involved in his life.

    In this book all the myths are exposed, such as did Keith get his “blood changed” to break his heroin addiction? did he really snort his father’s ashes? Was it a palm tree he fell from?  All this and more including the loves of his life.  Other than music Keith loved a few women, from Ronnie Spector to Anita Pallenberg, they’re all special and from the words he uses the reader/listener can tell he loved them deeply.

    Throughout the book Richards, of course, discusses his love of music.  From the discovery of American Blues to Island music, he incorporates it all into the music that becomes the most timeless music of all time, Rolling Stones music.  How some of the songs were written and recorded can be surprising and yet once you go back and hear the tunes it makes sense.

    The audiobook is also a bit of a Keith Richards sandwich, with Keith providing the intro and the final chapters’ narration of the book.  Johnny Depp reads for Keith’s early years, and musician Joe Hurley reads for the better part of the 70s section and Johnny Depp taking over again for the 80s and beyond.   Depp, who based his Jack Sparrow pirate character on Richards, does an awesome job reading as Richards, but Joe Hurley makes the middle section fun doing a great “slight” impersonation of Richards and the others whose voices are required.  As far as biographies go this is the best read one I’ve ever heard.

    With the book being around 24 hours of listening time, I was a bit wary of the task, but once the book started I was hooked and just couldn’t let go.  Great bit of rock and roll history with some inside stories that make the trip more fun.

     
  • gilwilson 10:00 PM on November 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , chris patton, , , deep blue, , , music, , sineater   

    “Deep Blue” by David Niall Wilson 

    “Deep Blue”
    by David Niall Wilson
    Narrated by Chris Patton
    Published by CrossRoad Press, 2010
    Approx. 11.5 hours

    “Crossroads or Cross-hairs, it’s all the same.  There’s only one way through the pain and that’s through the music.”  That’s what the mysterious old bluesman tells Brandt when Brandt learns he as a new musical power.  This quote grabbed me in this novel by David Niall Wilson, and kept hold as Brandt, a burned out musician begins to play music that can absolve or dissolve people of their pain.  But as Stan Lee says, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  What Brandt must do with this new found power is yet to be revealed.

    David Niall Wilson has written a haunting tale of a down and out bar band that is either on the verge of making it or burning out.  The band’s leader Brandt is trying to find that one thing in the music that is constantly eluding him, what that is he’s not sure, yet.  After leaving their latest gig and being too drunk to drive Brandt walks home.  As he’s walking he keeps hearing a haunting blues harmonica being played.  When he arrives home he realizes he’s forgotten his keys and decides instead of walking all the way back he swigs some courage from the tequila bottle and decides to track down the mysterious musician.  Who he finds is a ghostly figure of Wally, a harmonica playing old bluesman.  Wally shows Brandt his hidden talent of playing music by absorbing others’ pain.

    The night after learning this Brandt takes the stage with his band-mates and begins playing.  As he plays he gets visions of Nazis killing Jews, American Indians being forced to walk the trail of tears and more painful events.  Over his shoulder as he’s playing he hears Wally repeat the quote, “Crossroads or Cross-hairs, it’s all the same.  There’s only one way through the pain and that’s through the music.”  When Brandt finishes the audience is still and his band is staring at him all asking, “What was that?”  Brandt leaves without an explanation.

    The next night the band has a record exec in the audience, but no Brandt, this time the bassist Cynthia, takes her bass playing to new levels.  She has always seen “angels” but tonight she seems to be playing for the angels.  Before the angels never paid her any attention, but this time as she plays they are all looking at her and listening with intent.  She finishes the song as she sees a vision of her mother, as she reaches out, the record exec breaks the vision and starts his schpiel.  She is slightly frightened and leaves.

    This now leaves the band down to the Drummer, Dexter, and the rhythm guitarist, Shaver.  Shaver has been trying to find “The Song.”  “The Song” being what Brandt and Cyn discovered. He plays so much he tears up his fingers so bad he cannot touch anything.  His girlfriend Liz tends to his wounded hands and takes him back to Dexter’s apartment so they can find “The Song” and find Brandt and Cyn.

    The band all seem to have strange pasts, Dexter was raised by a Church that handled snakes as part of worship (he was left at the steps of the church as an infant).  Dexter could handle the snakes because he found the pattern in the snakes, the pattern that is existence. Cyn has always seen “angels,” by this I mean everywhere and all the time.  Liz was raised in a church where as each member died the church held a service where food was placed over the body and a dark man known as “The Sin Eater” would gorge on all the food placed in the process eating the sin so the person can reach salvation.

    The band meets a man named Payne who seems to be keeping them from their “mission.”  But the band heads west to Liz’s home where her father is the “Sin Eater,” but the church is under new leadership and has forgotten their past and the “Sin Eater.”  This is where the showdown between the band and Payne will be held.

    Through some great musical imagery and excellent sub-plots, David Niall Wilson, has written a captivating story that is full of surprises.  The reader, Chris Patton, fully captures the imagery in his excellent voice work and telling of this story.  While listening I wasn’t sure if it was Wilson’s words or Patton’s voice, or the combination of the two, but I swear I heard the music in every scene.

     
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