Words words words.

Giles Smith – Lost in Music – A Pop Odyssey
1993, Picador

This book is about music. That is, music, ‘a monumentally life-affirming force, proof of the raging heart and the raging pulse.’
Telling tales of his own long term relationship with music, from the first incriminating piece of vinyl, through tours with his band The Cleaners From Venus, and justifying his 10CC obsession, Smith’s lucid prose transforms this book from a document to a journey, one that although peppered with anecdotes and heavily saturated with the personal, resonates with the journey that everyone who has ever felt their heart begin to pulse as the play button clicks, serotonin skidding in as a simple chord seduces you, and worshipped at the shrine of strums and drums, has been on.
Perceptive thoughts on what Tony Blair’s musical preferences reveal about his political leanings, and the solipsistic nature of pop, as well as some very well observed facts (‘No one does air piano’) means that this is more than just a self-indulgent diary of a personal obsession.
Whether you substitute T-Rex for Wham, or Nirvana, or JLS, all can identify with the joyous, painful, rollercoaster of an emotional trip that a favourite band takes you on.
This funny, sharp account of the most important love affair a person has is well worth reading, and re-reading.

Stuart Maconie – Cider With Roadies
2004, Ebury
As a lifelong fan, guitarist, promoter and writer, having spent years on the NME, Stuart Maconie is more than qualified to record the strange world of music journalism (making up stories, missing deadlines, travels with the band, and bizarre readers letters).
It isn’t just a ‘this is my career’ book, but lucid prose celebrating the power of music to lift the spirits, liberate the soul, banish ailments and fix all social ills. The primordial instinct that drives people to give their lives to music, not just have it as the soundtrack is evident in this convivial account.
The account of life on the New Musical Express is an interesting mini record of the magazine’s journey from a well respected authority where every music fan dreamed of being a hack, to a pretentious and fashion obsessed glossy, and is a good addition to other rants and praises about the music press.
Parts seem apocryphal – does anyone really believe that The Beatles were Maconie’s first record, love and brush with the famous – but the wisecracks and passion with which he paints this musical landscape means that the less humble moments don’t stop its luminosity.
Mainly Maconie reminds us that deep inside everyone who works in the business is the same flame that was ignited years ago by one chord, one note, or one song. Like he says, we are all „incorrigible romantics, sleepwalking from crush to crush, stuck in an infatuation that began all those years ago in an upstairs bedroom.

Francesca Baker

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