Now Read This: Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies, by Stewart Copeland

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  I snagged this one at the same time I picked up the Tammy Wynette biography from last week, mainly because, while I’m not the biggest fan of The Police, I could not resist that title. Pygmies? Polo? A rockstar with a (kind of) secret double life? Sign me up! I am pleased to tell you that I had once again invested wisely, because Stewart Copeland definitely comes through in the hilarious / compelling anecdote department. In addition to his time with The Police, his adventures as a documentary film maker and his trials and travails amid the ponies, the book also covers his childhood in the Beirut and England (his dad was founding member of the CIA!), his college years in California, his forays into the world of opera and ballet, the period he was in a band with Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio, a little bit about the making of Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, his work writing movie scores, his stint as a judge on Just The Two Of Us, the many years he’s participated in La Notte Della Taranta, and ever so much more. The stories are presented chronologically, but as independent anecdotes, so its … Continue reading

Now Read This: Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, by Jimmy McDonough

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When I found this book in the music section of a used book store in Boston, I added it to my pile immediately. Not because I’m a dedicated fan of Tammy Wynette – my favorite version of Stand By Your Man is the Lyle Lovett cover that was included in the Crying Game – but because she is such an iconic figure in country music, and I felt I should get to know her better. Plus I’ve been reading a lot of auto/biographies of male rock stars lately, and I felt like I should branch out a little bit. I may have picked it up out of a sense of duty, but what I got was the best kind of surprise. I loved this book. I honestly did not want to put it down, even though it was largely responsible for having Stand By Your Man stuck in my head on infinite repeat for the better part of a week. Wynette’s story is a real rollercoaster ride of triumphant commercial success highs (all those #1 songs!) and tragic personal lows (her fifth marriage; being addicted to painkillers for most of her adult life due to extensive physical problems), but what … Continue reading

Now Read This: Save the Last Dance for Satan by Nick Tosches

LastDance feature

  When I first read Nick Tosches, I had no idea who the guy was. I was on a big Dean Martin kick, and picked up Tosches’ hefty biography of the man in my quest to know all things Dino. Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams was like no other celebrity biography I had come across, with a vast scope that put Martin’s whole world in perspective. And, to be honest, I was a little annoyed by it at first. Who was this guy, and why did he keep talking about things other than Martin himself? But I kept reading, all the way to the end, and it left an impression. Now Nick Tosches is an example to me, an influence, a bit of an idol, and one hell of a beautiful writer. So, when I learned of Tosches’ latest book, Save the Last Dance for Satan, I jumped at the chance to review it for NTSIB (and rope my great friend Rick Saunders into the process). Satan is published under the auspices of Kicks Books. The book publishing branch of Norton Records (which, in turn, began life as the record label arm of Kicks Magazine, published … Continue reading

Now Read This: 33 Days – Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream., by Bill See

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When I came to the end of this book, I closed the back cover slowly, and rested my fingertips on it, pulling myself back to the present while the the last image – Bill See, alone in a quiet house with his guitar amid a swirl of cables, contentedly working on songs while his loved ones sleep – slowly settled, and I thought, I really wish I could have gone to one of your shows. But in 1987, the year Bill See and his band Divine Weeks set off on what was truly an epic adventure, I was too young and on the wrong coast to participate in their rock and roll journey. Reading his account of it now is almost, but not quite, as good as being there must have been. But I suppose I should back up a little bit and perhaps start over. The year, as I mentioned, was 1987. The place was Los Angeles, where Bill See, Rajesh “Raj” K. Makwana, George Edmondson, Dave Smerdzinski, aka Divine Weeks, a decidedly not glam band (See describes them as “musically [close] to The Who at Woodstock by way of early R.E.M” but ideologically more akin to The Minutemen) … Continue reading

Now Read This: Deep Blues by Robert Palmer

Deep Blues Palmer feature

  My co-blogger and I are both tremendous consumers of books as well as of music. Naturally, we also read books about music, and you’ve seen a few examples of that sneak in here and there – Jennifer’s review of Keith Richards’ Life, my write-up of B-Sides and Broken Hearts by Caryn Rose, and the recent blurb about Put the Needle on the Record by Matthew Chojnacki – and there are more to come. To that end, we introduce Now Read This, where we’ll write about music-related books that we get our grubby, grabby hands on. To inaugurate our new title tag, I am very pleased to present a review of Deep Blues by renowned music journalist/musician Robert Palmer (not that Robert Palmer) from the man who thought of our clever new tag, kick-ass friend of NTSIB, Rick Saunders. (If’n you don’t know, Rick is the commander of his own wonderful blog, also known as Deep Blues. He is the only person I know who can consistently recommend music to my idiosyncratic self, so if you like what I write about here, you’re going to love Rick’s blog.)     “Anybody singing the blues is in a deep pit telling … Continue reading