11. The Dark Stuff (Nick Kent) – Read a few chapters of this (Brian Wilson, Stones, G N’ R, I think), perused the others, have never felt a pressing need to pull it off the shelf again. I know how highly regarded Kent is (especially in the UK), and based on the little I’ve read I can neither confirm or dispute the many claims made for him, but the terrain he covers in this book is, at least for me, one of the least interesting stories in pop music — that of the wasted, self-destructing rock star (I say this as someone who has pretty much revered Keith Richards forever, even while simultaneously considering him one of rock’s ultimate self-parodies). There’s no doubt more to the writing here than that, but it’s just not a subject that greatly compels me, in the same way that I almost never actually enjoy watching junkie movies (even skillfully directed junkie movies). Another barrier: the whole journalist-as-rock-star thing. Witness Morrisey’s blurb: “I could tell you stories about Nick Kent that would uncurl the hair in your Afro.” Thing is, I don’t have an Afro.
12. Elvis Costello (David Sheppard) – $3.99 (marked down from $21.50) at BMV (Books! Music! Videos!), one of my more regularly frequented used book stores in the last ten years. Buying Elvis Costello books is a habit I need to soon break: I think this is one of five on my shelves, and with one odd-man-out exception, each one is depressingly unremarkable — apparently, the wordiest-nerdiest pop star of all just doesn’t inspire interesting authorship. Hmm. This is the slimmest of the lot and a good chunk of it is devoted to short track-by-track dissections of every EC album. The format alone makes it the most pickup-able of all my Elvis books, but still… depressingly unremarkable.
13. Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years Of Music, Machines, and Money (Mark Coleman) – I received this from the publisher a few years back (and following some correspondence with the author, who I now enjoy reading when he posts stuff on ILM), attempted to write a review, failed miserably. I enjoyed the story and learned lots, but maybe the topic was just too broad for me to grasp for the purpose of a review? I recall the sections on DJs, turntables, rap, and disco being smart and interesting, and for that alone I probably should’ve given this more thought at the time.
14. Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (Greil Marcus) – Purchased at the Strand in New York, I think, one of my half dozen favourite book stores. The first Marcus book I had a hard time getting through, though I’ve returned to passages in it since (and recently noted that the Todd Haynes Dylan flick essentially lifts off from Marcus’s writing on the previously obscure Basement ditty, “I’m Not There,” which is probably a really obvious thing to notice).
15. Kill All Your Darlings (Luc Sante) – Lots of stuff in here not about music but more than enough to earn it a place on this shelf (I’ve quoted this line from Sante’s review of the Nuggets box before, but it’s the sort of writing that can never be quoted too often: “Every time I hear the voice of Sky Saxon, of the Seeds, for example, I feel like I’m eleven and about to get beat up, so closely do his adenoids resemble those of Johnny K. and Jimmy H. from down the block”), and anyway, the book is introduced by Marcus, and I first became aware of Sante through stuff he was writing in Frank Kogan’s Why Music Sucks ‘zine — if credentials mean a damn in terms of acquiring space on my music bookshelf, you can’t do much better than that. One of the newest books on my shelf, purchased in November on our trip to Texas at a decent enough store in Austin called Book People.
16. Songwriters on Songwriting (Paul Zollo) – Another Da Capo mailing list freebie, and at 640 pages, a juicy one, too. I so miss being connected.
17. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: 100 Years of the Disc Jockey (Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton) – Last night a book about dance music saved my life. The night before that… I think Phil gave me this one also. A well done and clearly told history, though I recall parts of the disco chapter infuriating me a little (the usual Bee Gees-bashing bullshit, essentially).
18. Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture (Sheryl Garratt) – Don’t recall where or when I bought this — it’s in perfect condition, but I’m fairly certain I picked it up used, or possibly remaindered. Was a time when I would purchase virtually any half-decent looking book on dance music I could find, in part because I once had designs on writing such a book myself (I don’t now). I’ve long been under the impression this is a good or “important” book, but I’m not hopeful that I’ll ever get around to reading it. I just can’t imagine having the need to delve that deeply into the subject again — but who knows?
18. A Year With Swollen Appendices (Brian Eno) – I raced through this pretty quickly, laughed lots, cringed occasionally. Have retained little-to-nothing in the way of details. I probably liked the bitchy-gossipy sections more than the theorizing, though perhaps its strength is that the dividing line isn’t so obvious?
19. Paperback Writer (Mark Shipper) – The oldest personal possession we’ve come up against so far. I think I bought it in the mid or late ’80s as a result of something Marcus or Marsh wrote about it. My edition’s pretty tattered, and I’ll scoop up a second copy should I ever come across it again, though in 15 years I’ve never seen it anywhere. A great, great book that feels a bit lost in time. Discussed it at some length recently with Richard Riegel.