Recent books I read : Part One – Good ol’ paperbooks!

I have recently had a bit more time to read a small part of the many books on music I keep on buying so I thought now was the right moment to talk about it. Let’s start with these three ones I read on the old format (yes, with paper pages that you actually turn!).

  • Neil YoungWaging Heavy Peace

He took his time but the great Canadian eventually published his memories at the end of 2012. And to be frank, I would not speak about real memories, such as Keith Richards did with “Life” as here Neil Young writes in a free jazz way through very short chapters and with no real timelines or logics…or this is the first feeling one can have in the opening pages. Indeed, when you are deeply in the middle of the book, you realize this is a way for him to talk more easily about heavy subjects, such as his sons in particular who both suffered from cerebral palsy. And if you will find indeed too many pages about his love of old cars (who cares?) and his obsessions regarding compressed digital sounds, there are many things to cherish, notably when he writes about his relationship with his father or with Stephen Stills for instance. Recommended reading.

  • Mark EverettThings the grandchildren should know

…or E’s biography. Who is E ? Well, he is the singer/leader of the great Eels band everyone knows for the “Novocaine for the Soul” hit in the mid-90’s but who kept on doing great records until now. E wrote his biography in 2009 just before a trilogy of great albums (by the way, their new LP “Wonderful, Glorious” has just went out and is highly recommended). For those who know a bit about E., he appears like a depressed guy and this book explains his side of the story and more particularly all the deaths that occurred in his family, leaving him virtually the only family member. But there is much more than that in this book and in particular this is a model of life-struggling and optimism. Very funny and enjoyable way of writing as well, which is not a surprise when one knows how skilled the man is. Indispensable reading for music fans and highly recommended for the others.

  • Michka Assayas – In a lonely place

I am afraid this book is for the moment only available in French (in the great Le Mot et le Reste collection). Michka Assayas is an important person in music which he will not recognize as humility is one of his quality. He has started writing in the early 80’s in rock magazine “Rock’n’folk” and then kept on doing reviews in “les Inrockuptibles” in the late 80’s. He then voluntarily disappeared from the rock writing scene but kept on writing here and there before creating the amazing “Histoire du Rock” book in the late 90’s (new edition to arrive in 2013!) and doing the great “Subjectif 21” radio show. Joy Division’s fans will recognize the title of the book as one of their favourite songs and indeed this is such a pleasure to (re)read these reviews and chronicles about Joy Division, Everything But The Girl, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Beach Boys, U2, etc… The strength of Michka Assayas was in his writing-style as you will not find a trendy expression that could have not aged well but on the opposite all these reviews could have been written today. The way he describes his relationship with music and why we have perfectly the right not to agree with the overall shit we are imposed culturally-wise brings with words all I have ever had difficulties to express on my side. Buy it!

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