Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: The Storyteller (Dave Grohl)

I think Dave Grohl must be my spirit animal

★★★★★★★

Title: The Storyteller
Author/Narrator: Dave Grohl
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Music
First published: 2021
Edition: Audio book

So, I’ve written a book. This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.” 

🎵🎸🎶🎤🎵🥁🎶

Listening to this audio book was a real pleasure and the fact that I felt like he was actually telling me these stories himself surely added greatly to the experience.

Although I like the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, I am not a huge fan of either. I am, however, a fan of Dave Grohl as a person. To me he always comes across incredibly genuine and after reading this: Yes, Mr Dave Grohl, you would absolutely be on my dream-dinner-guests-list.

This memoir only confirmed to me that Dave Grohl is just like me: a massive music geek. He just happens to be one with a shit ton of talent as well. I loved his stories as he took me, the reader/listener, through his childhood, through his career with the Foos, Nirvana and Scream, and to meet the people and places that have been important to him throughout his life. The narrative is not always linear. In fact, as in real conversation, one story leads into a memory of another time another place, and so forth. I really enjoyed the casual feel this brought.

At one point Dave explains how much music means to him and as I was listening I was nodding so hard I thought my head would fall off, because yes, Dave, music is absolutely my religion too.

This was simply a joy and certainly one of the top favourite music memoirs I have read. I would highly recommend this one, even if you’re not a fan of his bands. After all, he’s just a music fan, and just a parent, like me. Just a little more awesome.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Read in 2021 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Life (Keith Richards)

An eventful life that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable memoir


★★★★★★☆

Title: Life
Author/Narrator: Keith Richards Narrator: Johnny Depp/Joe Hurley
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Autobiography/Memoir/Music
First published: 2010
Edition: Audio book

With The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life. Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane. Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones’s first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image as an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women.” His relationship with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones. Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the U.S., isolation and addiction. Falling in love with Patti Hansen. Estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation. Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever.

I read this for a book club and although it took me a long time to listen to, I enjoyed the ride.

Rolling Stone Keith Richards is iconic, whether you like him or not, and I feel that in his memoir you find out exactly why. He tells his life story with flair and humour, without arrogance or grandure, and man, has he lived a life!

Whether everything told this is memoir is accurate remains the question, as he must have been under the influence for much of these events. However, he certainly tells his stories well and I do not really care how accurate they are.

Much as I enjoyed the glimpses into his eventful private life, the bits I enjoyed most were the bits where he talked about music. When he talks about chords and guitar techniques and the way some of the most famous songs in the world were written, I was glued to the words. I loved his passion and his pure understanding of music and what it means to him. Also, when he talks about other artists he has worked, you can feel his love and admiration for them.

It was interesting hearing him talk about the Stones and especially with the passing of Charlie Watts recently, when he talked about him it brought a smile to my face. Although he tells his side of the story of his difficulties with Mick Jagger and sometimes puts him in a bad light, he always seems to find excuses for him as well.

This autobiography was a bit too longwinded in places, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A note on the narration: The audio book is narrated partly by Johnny Depp, partly by Joe Hurley, going back to Johnny Depp and finished by Keith himself. Every time I found the swap of narrator a bit jarring for ten minutes or so, but I did get used to all of them. My favourite narrator was Keith himself, but although the American accent threw me at first, I really enjoyed Depp’s narration as well.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Read in 2021 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Chronicles (Bob Dylan)

I have read too many memoirs lately that were better

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Chronicles, volume one
Author: Bob Dylan Narrator: Sean Penn
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Music
First published: 2004
Edition: Audio book

Through Dylan’s eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan’s New York is a magical city of possibilities — smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book’s side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times.

🎸🎙🎵

Either I have memoir fatigue or this one is simply not as good as many other music biographies I have read over the last year or so. Either way, I enjoyed this one, but I doubt it will stick in my mind very long.

Bob Dylan is one of those characters in music that we all think we know, but actually know little about. That certainly was the case for me. I absolutely went in with a preconception of who this man was and I think during the reading (listening) of this book, a lot of those preconceptions went out of the window. I like that. I like it when you get something you did not expect, when you come out of a book with a better idea of who a person is. This did do that, kind of.

However, despite the fact that the author can write a bloody good sentence every now and then, overall I just did not love the style in which this was written. It felt disjointed and the flow did not suit me. It did not grab me in the way that other memoirs have done. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, and I still learned something, but it just did not move me in any way and it did not connect with me.

I do still think this is a good memoir. If you like Bob Dylan or you are just interested in what he has to say, this is worth reading and you will probably enjoy it as I did, but if you’re not that interested in him as a person, I doubt this one will do a ton to thrill you.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl (Carrie Brownstein)

Awkwardness makes a good memoir…

★★★★★★☆

Title: Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl
Author: Carrie Brownstein
Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir/Music/Culture
First published: 2015
Edition: Audio book

Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s.

***

I picked this up for a book club and I am so glad I did, because this was such an honest and raw memoir and I ended up enjoying it so much.

Although I was familiar with the author and her band Sleater-Kinney, they were not a band I listened to when I was young in the nineties (yes, I am that age!). Nevertheless, I was excited to read this, mainly as you do not get a lot of memoirs that deal with a smaller indie band who never actually made it that big.

Carrie tells her story about her life in Sleater-Kinney from a very personal point of view. She talks about her experience of life in a band with sometimes painful frankness, from navigating relationships and friendships whilst on tour and of course the making the music itself. She is well versed in the effect touring and playing live day after day has on the mind as well as the body and does not sugar coat anything. Life in a touring band is far from glamorous, unless you’re, well, Pearl Jam.

I think this is the most relatable ‘rock memoir’ I have read, It does not involve any alcohol or drug abuse and no ego stroking, and is probably the closest to what it’s like for most of the bands I enjoy listening to. There is little glamour or riches, and only sheer love for making and playing music that makes it worthwhile.

I am glad I decided to listen to this, because I really connected to the author’s tone in this memoir. I really enjoyed this and if you are interested in Sleater-Kinney, or even Brownstein’s later TV show Portlandia, do give this a try. It would be worth your time.

6 out of 7 stars