Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Set The Boy Free (Johnny Marr)

Marr, Johnny - Set The Boy Free


Title: Set The Boy Free
Author / Narrator: Johnny Marr
Genre: Non-Fiction / Autobiography / Music
First published: 2016 by Dey Street Books
Edition: Audio book

Although I knew about Johnny Marr, I really became aware of him when he was playing with The Cribs on their album Ignore The Ignorant. Of course I had listened to The Smiths and knew some of their songs, but they were before my time (just). What I have come to realise over the years is how well respected Johnny Marr is as a guitarist and as a person and I have been wanting to read his autobiography for a while.

It took me a little while to get used to Johnny Marr’s writing and narrating style, but now I have listened to him tell his journey through life and music, I feel I have come to know him bette and I have a whole new appreciation for him. His style is very matter-a-fact, quite dry and yet drenched in passion for what he does. Passion is a wonderful characteristic to have and he has it in spades.

This book won’t be for everyone and if you were expecting digs at former bandmates (Morrissey anyone?), you will be disappointed, as Johnny is far too much of a gentleman to go down to that level. If you expect rock ‘n’ roll excess, there is little of that here. He met the love of his life at fifteen and never looked back. How beautiful is that?!

If there is one thing I took away from this audio book it is how humble Johnny Marr and at the same time how aware he is of the legacy that he has created as a guitarist in The Smiths and all the other bands he played with. The passion and love he has for music and playing the guitar shines through and you can not help but warm up to him as a person.

If you love music, like me, and want to know more about Johnny Marr and the bands he played with, it is worth picking up this book. I think it worked well as an audio book. I found Johnny Marr’s voice quite soothing,  even if not very dynamic.

5 out of 7 stars


Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Reckless Daughter (David Yaffe)

Yaffe, David - Reckless Daughter


Title: Reckless Daughter, A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
Author: David Yaffe
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / Music
First published: 17 October 2017
Edition: ARC e-book, courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley

Of course everyone knows Joni Mitchell, but how much do we actually know about her? In my case, I knew some of her songs, but I was not that familiar with her albums or her personal life and I jumped at the chance to find out more about her. I am glad I did. This is a really well written biography, which is hung on the skeleton of her excellent discography and fleshed out from there.

David Yaffe does an excellent job bringing Joni to life; her music is disected with passion and her personal life is told with compassion and honesty, not holding back on the sadness and anger life sometimes brought her. The book is written based on interviews conducted with Joni herself and many of her lovers and fellow musicians. It gives various perspectives on certain situations, which definitely gives it more integrity.

I really enjoyed reading this tale of a prairie girl who dreamed of another life and made it big. She may not have become quite the star she had envisioned she would become, she may have become out of tune with the changing world around her,  but she remains a 70s icon and her music is still loved by millions.

This biography paints a vivid portrait of brilliant songwriter, who still deserves to be listened to. I will.

6 out of 7 stars