Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #15 Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story

Title: Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story
Author: Nick Tosches
Year Originally Published: 1982
Edition I Own: First Dell Paperback Printing, 1982

What They Say: In naming it the greatest music book ever, The Guardian: "Nick Tosches's extravagant and evocative biography is a superbly told story that makes sense of the wildest, most messed-up survivor in the history of rock'n'roll. They don't make them like that any more. And, perhaps for that very reason, they don't they write them like that anymore. A killer of a book."

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: Could there be anything more to add to the above? (Bill says: "I really really liked it, man." ??) I remember buying this at Booksmart in Uptown when it was on that corner next to William's Pub (a sacred location as I bought my first Joan Didion book - The White Album - there also), the faded receipt used as a bookmark says I bought it on April 24, 1997 for $3.99 plus tax. I've read this at least twice and it is every good as what The Guardian says. Tosches has written some amazing books - also check out The Devil And Sonny Liston, Country, or The Unsung Heroes Of Rock & Roll. The Nick Tosches Reader serves as a solid primer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #14 Rod Stewart

Title: Rod Stewart
Author: Paul Nelson & Lester Bangs
Year Originally Published: 1981
Edition I Own: Delilah Books first printing, 1981

What They Say: I have the feeling this book came and went so fast that that aren't archived reviews out there on the Internet. A little background: According to Lester Bangs's biography, Let It Blurt by Jim DeRogatis, Paul Nelson hit a bad case of writer's block when writing a Rod Stewart biography. Bangs signed on and wrote eighty-eight pages in a weekend to Nelson's five, though Bangs would insist that Nelson's name precede his on the book cover.

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: It's touching how Bangs and Nelson fuss over Stewart's mid-seventies sellout, an early chapter is simply the two of them discussing this. Personally, I haven't cared as much about an artist in many many years. I generally assume that even if the music is great, the artist is arrogant, boring, or a weirdo. I mean, I already have friends, why would I want to spend any time getting to know Jack White? This is one of the oddest rock books I have - the juxtaposition of smartly-written prose contrasted by glossy fan-friendly photos of Stewart, most without any captions. To top it off, Bangs admits in the intro: Some of (this book) is "true" - exhaustively researched, and most of those sections involving quotes from previously published materials, especially attributed ones, may be regarded as the "truth." I made up the rest. This book is hilarious must-read for Bangs fans and a valid reminder of just how great those Faces and early Stewart albums were.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Barney Game

I should have put this story to paper (or screen, in this case) a few weeks back in honor of the Sioux vs. Gophers series that was being played. I thought maybe I should save it for the UND/UM rematch in January, but I am easily sidetracked when it comes to writing stuff so I'm going to post it now. Tonight I realized that I have never told the story of "The Barney Game" in my zine or blog and it needs to be told. It shows the importance of keeping commitments to your friends and that if you are single, you should just go ahead and do the things you love and not get hung up on the social calendars, obligations, and mores of those married or in couples.

Back in the mid-to-late nineties, a friend of mine dating back to our UND days called me and invited me to a dinner party he and his wife were hosting that Saturday. I told him I couldn't make it as I was going over to my friend Turk's house to watch the Sioux/Gophers game with Turk and his brother Mark, as was my custom once a year or so. My friend pointed out that I would be watching the game with Gopher fans. His dinner party would all be attended by our UND friends and their wives. He would have the game on and wouldn't I rather watch it with Sioux fans? I said that I had already made my commitment and couldn't go back on it. What I didn't say was that I rather enjoyed watching Sioux/Gopher games with Turk and his brother, we traded snarky trash talk while keeping all eyes on the game and saved any long conversations for between periods or after the game. I also knew that "dinner party" and "serious sports watching" don't ever go hand-in-hand, and the Sioux vs. Gophers series are THE biggest events on my sports calendar.

So this was that era where every season during one of the games in Grand Forks, the Gophers would have a two or three goal lead going into the third period, and the Sioux would storm back and win the game. (I hesitate to go back and look up the details, because it seemed like this era lasted four seasons or so, but memories can be tricky things and I hate to a sweet memory of an era like this be reduced.) On this Saturday night, the Sioux rallied in the third to rally for a victory over a seemingly-insurmountable Gopher lead. It was awesome! I yukked it up while Turk and Mark muttered curses under their breath, though all three of us of course put our differences aside to have one or two more cold ones after the game to wind down the weekend.

I talked with my UND friend a few days after the game. "How about that game? Didn't you just love that third period?"

"Oh," he said, "we had to turn the game off during the second period. All the kids were getting restless and we put in a Barney video."