Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Do With My Eyes While I Listen to Music

Aside from magazines, which do demand a lot of my reading time and bookstore cash, I do actually consume some books as well. And while I tear through a lot of fiction I also enjoy my share of music-related material, too. There are three reads I'm looking at on the shelf right now that stand out as recent favorites that probably belong in any music fan's library.

Misery Obscura: The Photography Of Eerie Von (1981-2009)
 After all my Jerry Only-inspired anger yesterday, I feel some Misfits remorse and need to hug the puppy I just smacked. Except, in this case, I'll direct the love to Eerie Von, bassist for Samhain and Danzig and photographer to the Misfits. Eerie's work has been collected in an incredible volume, Misery Obscura: The Photography of Eerie Von (1981-2009). This book has been in print for a year and a half and I am earnestly hoping it has found its way into not only the hands of all Misfits fans but also anyone interested in punk rock and music photography in general. You can get a great preview of the contents at the publisher's, Dark Horse Comics, website

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True StoryI really, really like Chuck Klosterman's classic Fargo Rock City but am more taken with Killing Yourself to Live. A memoir of a Spin-mandated roadtrip to the geography of rock-and-roll's fatalities, it manages to touch upon rock history and real people with sincerity (through the filter of Klosterman) while at the same time serving as a nice little slice of autobiography. The author labels the work as "85% of a True Story" and I figure that beats most of what I read on any given day by a longshot. Recalling preparing for his journey - and as if he has looked directly into my own life, Klosterman writes, "It will take three hours to decide which compact discs to put in the backseat... I never worry about nuclear war or the economy or if we need to establish a Palestinian state, but I spend a lot of time worrying about whether I need to purchase all the less-than-stellar Rolling Stones albums from the 1980s for cataloging purposes... I have more CDs than 99 percent of America, but fewer CDs than 40 percent of my friends; if an acquaintance has more CDs than me, I feel intimidated and emasculated... This decision will dictate everything. Space will be limited, so I can only select those albums that will be undeniably essential. I elect to bring 600."

Red: My Uncensored Life in RockI also came out with my Hagar-over-Roth preference this week and, still riding that high of honesty, I will also come out and say that I loved Sammy Hagar's autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock. Let me be clear: I prefer Hagar's Van Halen albums over Roth's Van Halen albums. I like a good deal of Sammy's solo work. I like the Chickenfoot project. After all of that, I still think Sammy is more than a bit of a goofball and I have a hard time taking him seriously. A lot of this has to do with his ridiculous claim that he is unable to adhere to speed limits. A lot more has to do with jumpsuits. Some has to do with his refusal to consider multiple ways to rock. And some has to do with his hair. Still, Red is a really fun read and I would go so far as to say that the non-Sammy fan would enjoy it as well. It has a real, conversational style and he tells all the rock and roll stories you want to hear. From Stephen Stills' cocaine and gout to Eddie Van Halen's absolute late-career decrepitude we get all the warts. Except, admittedly, Sammy's. He is the good guy a little too often, even when cheating with groupies (it's amazing how often they force themselves on him and he is powerless to make them stop), and, alcohol problems aside, I still figure Eddie and Alex contributed more than a little to the records they made together. All in all, though, it's a lot of fun and any man who jammed with Montrose, Van Halen, Neal Schon and more while also providing prose such as "They fucking arrested the fuck out of Larry and Dave" has earned a few hours of any given rainy Saturday reading time. I dare anyone who sits down with this book not to throw 5150 on immediately afterward. It's that infectious.

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