Happy 2012. I'm deep in the throes of several books but to start the year off, I'm alternating my attention on three music books: Horace Panter's Ska'd For Life (which I posted about right before Xmas), I Want My MTV: the uncensored story of the music video revolution and Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson.
Panter's Ska'd For Life is a look back on his time with The Specials and I'm at the part that is familiar to all the viewers of VH1's Behind the Music--the constant touring is starting to create rifts within the band. Obviously, I know how the story ends but I've learned a ton about a band whose work I've always admired and look forward to reading Panter's take on it
I Want My MTV is an oral history from everyone involved in the creation of MTV and the whole video explosion--execs, musicians, directors, VJs, the whole bit; lots of behind-the-scenes stuff, sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll (of course). Not only am I going to YouTube to watch videos I'd forgotten about but authors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum make clear the huge cultural effect music videos had not only on TV but commercials, movies and the music industry. What I didn't know was how MTV and videos as an art form gave a lot of women music biz opportunities they never had before.
As for Paul Nelson, I never knew I knew his work until Everything Is An Afterthought arrived as a gift from my dear friend Rocky. Thirty years ago, I read a piece in Rolling Stone about Warren Zevon that I thought was among the finest pieces of journalism I'd ever read (and I still do). Turns out it was written by Paul Nelson. Another one on Neil Young has stayed with me all these years. Yup. Penned by Paul Nelson. I'm absolutely fascinated by The New York Dolls. Who signed them to Mercury? Paul Nelson. Naturally, I'm eager to read on.
Another book I'm about to begin (because I need to be reading even more books simultaneously!) is Everybody Says Hello by the delightful and insightful Michael Kun. It is a follow-up to The Locklear Letters, a hilarious epistolary novel starring Sid Straw who is as schleppy as he is endearing. I can't wait to see where we find Sid these many years later. The book doesn't pub until April so it will be a while until I post my thoughts but please put this on your Spring reading list. Better still, get a copy of The Locklear Letters now so you're up to speed.