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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

These glory days can take their toll, so catch me now before I turn to gold

I like hitting up a bookstore or two every few weeks. Though I have a stack of books left unread (Nick Mason's bio of Pink Floyd, High Fidelity, and a bio on the Creation are just some of them), I'm always on the lookout for something else. Depending on how bad I want to read it, I may bring it home and start reading it immediately. But in my search for finding those kinds of books, I stumble across ones that make me scratch my head.

In the last year, I've come across two authorized books written by legendary people in the industry that sound really intriguing: Ed McMahon's Here's Johnny and Hal Blaine's Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew: The Story of the World's Most Recorded Musician. These guys have been around for a handful of decades in show business and what all do they say in their biographies? Not much.

I have yet to read either book start to finish, but after skimming through them, I wonder why they are so thin. McMahon's book is 240 pages, an average length for a book. But come on, this guy worked with Johnny Carson for 46 years and this is all he allows? Blaine's book is only 140 pages and I find that incredibly frustrating. Here's a man who's played on thousands of hit recordings (pretty much every Top 40 hit from the '60s you hear on oldies radio that wasn't by Motown, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles) and all the guy allows is 140 pages? What gives?

I'm not someone who loves reading dirty tell-alls, but I like it when autobiographies go towards the deep end. I'm currently reading U2 By U2, the oral history of the band and it's fascinating. It's 346 large pages filled with stories directly from the horse's mouth. There's very little ugly stuff, but plenty that open up who these four guys are. I've been a fan of U2 since elementary school, but I have an even greater appreciation for them now.

I'm not saying that everyone should have marathon autobiographies, but come on. When it comes to people that have been through so much, getting so little in return in frustrating. It's like talking to your grandparents about the Depression or one of the major wars and all they allow are simple anecdotes. There was plenty that went on, but we have selective memories. When I started working on my book, I knew I had to write this stuff down before it gets the total rosy glasses treatment. My generation's already making the first steps there. More steps will follow.

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