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Rock and Roll Will save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics among Usby Steve Almond
Synopses & Reviews
The DF Starter Kit (No Assembly Required )
1. It helps considerably if your parents are musicians of some sort My mother, for instance, was an accomplished pianist who attended the High School of Music and Art before settling into the far more glamorous fields of parenting and psychiatry. In addition to her assigned roles as therapist, domestic slave, and mother to three savage monkeys (i.e. me, my twin brother, Mike, and our older brother, Dave) she played piano on a black upright Yamaha. Owing to the size of our home, the piano was located in what we savage monkeys thought of as the TV Room. This created a conflicting agenda, which in many ways crystallizes the generational dichotomy in our household: Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor versus The Facts of Life.
We barged in on her constantly, resentful of the attention she lavished on the instrument, and the serenity it seemed to grant her. Our father eventually affixed a latch to the door. Thus, the emblematic sound of our youth--a soft cascade of notes interrupted by ferocious pounding, then a muted sigh. Mom played beautifully.
Our father sang, starting in high school and later with the Harvard Glee Club, a distinction we looked upon with the contempt to be expected of insecure male offspring. (Glee Club? Why not just announce you're in the Gay Club?) He performed Lieder mostly, accompanied by our mother. Our father with his chin tipped slightly up, mournful German couplets trembling from his chest. His throat swelling with imploration. Such vulnerability We were mortified.
Our folks were too stuffed full of intellectual ambitions for a life in the arts. They were the descendants of European Jewry, cultured people who looked upon music as one of the elevating pleasures of our time on earth. They listened as much as they played, folk and rock music, but most of all classical.
We wanted nothing to do with classical music, excepting the Bugs Bunny episode Rabbit of Seville, the viewing of which was as close as we came to a sense of musical communion with our father. He later dragged us to the actual opera, a decision he immediately regretted. Nonetheless, we could see how music soothed and transformed our parents and though we endeavored not to show them that we were impressed, we were and deeply.
2. Display just enough musical talent to suffer lessonsI am flattering myself here, as is my wont. I did not have talent. What I had was a greater need for parental approval. I have no idea how piano was settled upon, though I'm sure my own Oedipal longings played a central role. My teacher was one Rosanna Sosoyev, a diminutive Russian emigre with a carefully arranged omelet of ginger hair.
Mrs. Sosoyev was what I'll call a traditional teacher. Before each lesson, she would inspect my hands, then send me to wash them. (On a few occasions, she marched me to the bathroom and washed them for me. This ritual--my hands in hers, the rose-scented soap, the warm water--was mildly erotic and deeply distressing.) She stressed scales.
Sosoyev: Now, we play the scale.
Me: Playing, badly]
Sosoyev: Did you practice the scale this week?
Sosoyev: You must practice the scale, Steven. You cannot play the song without the scale. It is like the sturgeon. The sturgeon cannot swim with no scale.
Our lessons were like this: small, poorly attend
The author of Candyfreak celebrates his love for rock and roll, in a humorous memoir about his life as an obsessed fan augmented by entertaining rock lists, surprising debates and discussions and homages to some of rock's most beloved bad songs.
Drooling fanatic, n. 1. One who drools in the presence of beloved rock stars. 2. Any of a genus of rock-and-roll wannabes/geeks who walk around with songs constantly ringing in their ears, own more than 3,000 albums, and fall in love with at least one record per week.
With a life that’s spanned the phonographic era and the digital age, Steve Almond lives to Rawk. Like you, he’s secretly longed to live the life of a rock star, complete with insane talent, famous friends, and hotel rooms to be trashed. Also like you, he’s content (sort of) to live the life of a rabid fan, one who has converted his unrequited desires into a (sort of) noble obsession.
Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life traces Almond’s passion from his earliest (and most wretched) rock criticism to his eventual discovery of a music-crazed soul mate and their subsequent production of two little superfans. Along the way, Almond reflects on the delusional power of songs, the awkward mating habits of drooling fanatics, and why Depression Songs actually make us feel so much better. The book also includes:
• sometimes drunken interviews with America’s finest songwriters
• a recap of the author’s terrifying visit to Graceland while stoned
• a vigorous and credibility-shattering endorsement of Styx’s Paradise Theater
• recommendations you will often choose to ignore
• a reluctant exegesis of the Toto song “Africa”
• obnoxious lists sure to piss off rock critics
But wait, there’s more. Readers will also be able to listen to a special free mix designed by the author, available online at www.stevenalmond.com, for the express purpose of eliciting your drool. For those about to rock—we salute you!
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