Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday sick-blogging: Rock 'n Roll Reading

I'm home sick today, laying in bed with my laptop at my side. Not fun.

Last week, I asked if, while writing, you created a playlist or soundtrack to not only accompany you while writing, but to serve as an official anthem for the work. Not everyone does it, I'm sure. I find it to be helpful and an entertaining facet of the writing process. Or maybe it's just a distraction. No matter.

Also mentioned last week was music/book blog Largehearted Boy's Book Notes series of interviews, which allows authors to talk about the music that inspired them while writing their most recently released book/novel/whatever.

Today, as I drowsily scrolled through my blogs, I discovered that indie siren Juliana Hatfield was being spotlighted, talking about her new autobiography/memoir When I Grow Up.

Here's a sampling:

"Don't" by Dinosaur Jr.

The Blake Babies (my first band) were recording during the overnight shift at Fort Apache studios in Cambridge, MA, and Dinosaur Jr. were making their album "Bug" in the daytime. I arrived early one evening and happened to catch Lou Barlow, bassist and occasional song-contributor of Dinosaur, doing a vocal take of this song in which he scream-sings "WHY DON'T YOU LIKE ME???!!!" repeatedly. It hurt my throat just to listen; Lou was throwing his whole body and soul into it. He seemed to be trying to destroy something with his voice, or to exorcise some evil demon.

It was maybe the most authentically tortured and anguished vocal performance I'd ever had the pleasure (or horror) to witness. Lou really meant it.

He came out of the recording booth and went into the bathroom and spat up blood. That's how hard he had sung. Scary, but righteous, I thought. Maybe rock and roll should hurt. If it doesn't, maybe you're not doing it right.

Now, reading this reminded me of another genre of books I read voraciously (well, when I'm not 10 books into a detective series, that is): Music history or musical bios. And, oddly enough, I find that the best autobiographies in the rock genre are often written not by the big name stars, but lesser-known "almost stars." Which is why I have high hopes for Hatfield's book. I was never much of a fan of her music, but from what little I've read (Rolling Stone had an excerpt), I think it'll be an entertaining and memorable read.

Another example that falls into the category of lesser-known music personality with a good book is Dean Wareham, formerly of bands Luna and Galaxie 500. Wareham's tales -- aptly titled Black Postcards -- of touring, band tension and drug abuse are engaging and brutally honest, making for a great peek into the industry a lot of us only see through the filter of television, radio or iTunes.

I guess the point of this note is to remind you all -- and myself, to a degree -- that while it's great to read stuff in the genre you are writing in, and want to work in, it's doubly helpful to branch out and find other kinds of writing you enjoy. It'll only help your writing get better, and ideally, more diverse.

What are some of the genres you enjoy reading?

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