Words and Music

May 18th, 2018Posted by Nancy

By sheer coincidence, I’ve read three books by musicians in the last month. I can recommend all of them.

First up, Clothes, Music, Boys by Viv Albertine of the seminal punk band The Slits. This is a wry, raw, funny, and honest look at clothes (she provides a list of what she wore), music (wanting to make it, learning to make it, finding reasons to make it again), and boys (a who’s who of early punk that she played with, hung with, slept with, lived with, lost).

Next, Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn of the post-punk band Everything but the Girl. She too is honest, witty, and self-deprecating, providing a glimpse into the grind to the top, the moment of unreal luxury at the peak, and the choices that change your life.

I loved both of these women and could completely relate to their desire to be musicians, to write songs, to be the one in the band (not the girlfriend of the one in the band). Though their lives were in many ways quite different (Thorn married her university sweetheart and writing partner, Albertine’s personal life was much less stable), they still end up in a place that many women recognize: dealing with loss, illness, children, and trying to find yourself again. They both did it, through music and prose.


And now for something completely different: Beautiful Scars by Tom Wilson. I’ve seen this shaggy-haired, gravel-voiced singer at numerous concerts by The Art of Time Ensemble. He shambles out, usually with a fur hat perched on his mane of dark hair, says “Andrew told me not to talk” and then proceeds to tells an amusing tale before launching into his song. (His rendition of Who by Fire by Leonard Cohen was amazing.) This autobiography is not only about his musical career but also his childhood and youth on the rough side of Hamilton, his battle with addiction, and – at its heart – the discovery about the truth of his family and origin.

Read them all.

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