Hagiography? No thanks, how about some fiction?
I rarely read non-fiction about musicians but I always enjoy when a talented writer inserts some music into a novel. Here are a few short passages from some recent fiction I’ve read and enjoyed:
From “Early Work” by Andrew Martin
“It’s not like it’s something that happened and he had to report on it, It’s all just Parsons co-opting what he imagines to be the pure yokel cornpone heart. I’,m not saying it’s not pretty. He’s a nice singer. I don’t know for some reason every time I listen to him, I just think ‘Oooh-kay, Gram, thank you, you are a very sad little boy imitating old country music, good job.'”
Sam to his credit, didn’t inquire about her relationship status, and did not seem to take it amiss that she might spend a weekend doing his drugs and having sex with im without expecting anything further in the way of future romantic involvement. And this was good, because she woke to the Mumford & Sons station streaming tinnily from Pandora through his laptop speakers.
“Upstate” by James Wood
Music had been far more reliable than friends or parents or lovers. It never abandoned her, it was always there to teach, instruct, console and excite. Songs structured her life. What philosophy was to Van, music was to Helen. She didn’t just like the songs-that was what ordinary people felt-but took them inside her.
“The authors say that very soon music will be like water, flowing freely through pipes and networks and plumbing, straight into people’s homes. It’ll be a fact of life, Like turning on the tap. You’ll pay a flat fee for the right to turn on the tap. And that’ll be that. The record companies, though, still want you to buy water in little expensive bottles-Perrier, Evian. Imagine trying to fill your bath with little bottles of Evian! That’s how the big record companies are still thinking. But it’s not the future. The future is the tap, not the little bottle of Evian. That’s what the book is arguing.”
“Beautiful Music” by Michael Zadoorian
“Everyone, Barry Stegner has something for show-and-tell today”
Barry, sloth-eyed and loping gets up before the class. Then he says, “I have a new record that I want to play.” He holds up the album and I can feel the tension in the classroom.
Miss Ferlin takes a look at it, at the collage of images on the front, at the liquidy red, white, and blue letter across the top. “It looks very…” She searches for a word. “Patriotic” is what she settles on, spotting an American flag on the cover.
Barry pulls the album out of the sleeve and holds it up. The label is black and red with a large E at the top. He leers at the class, making a big show of placing the record on the ashy felt of the turntable.
“And what is this record called, Barry?” asks Miss Ferlin.
“It’s called ‘Kick Out The Jams’ Miss Ferlin”……..
Barry places the needle on the record and with a lucid glance toward the class, he reaches over and turns up the volume all the way. The whole class somehow knows something big is coming. A sizzle of amplification hills the room. We hear the recorded whistles and hoots of an audience for a few seconds then finally a man’s voice booms out of the speaker, talking like he’s being held prisoner in an echo chamber: “Right now…right now….right now it’s time to.” There’s a long pause, then the jangle of guitars before the man screams “KICK OUT THE JAMS M*TH&RF#CK*RS!”