March 19, 2016

"Like Dylan, he writes his own songs, so of course he will write a wonderful book."

Said the literary agent for Prince, whose book deal was just announced. The publisher was garrulous: "Prince is a towering figure blah blah blah..." The 5-foot-2 rock star was laconic: "You still read books, right?"
Rock memoirs have proved a lucrative niche for publishers as baby boomers snap up books by their favorite performers. The gold standards in terms of both sales and literary qualify include “Life” by Keith Richards (776,683 print copies sold, according to Nielsen), “Chronicles” by Bob Dylan (560,706) and “Just Kids” by Patti Smith (466,635).
I've read all 3 of those — and Eric Clapton's book too — so I guess I'm in the niche. And I love Prince. But the author needs to tell good stories on himself — like Richards, Smith, and Clapton — or have an endless assortment of interesting things — like Bob Dylan. I don't know if Prince is up for any of that. He seems so secretive and enigmatic. But it's surely not enough to "like Dylan" write ones own songs. Song lyrics are song lyrics for a reason. They go with singing and lots of instrumentation. When read, what seemed sublime is often stupid.

I did a chapter-by-chapter series of blog posts when I read Dylan's "Chronicles" in 2004. Sample:
Dylan seems to have gotten some ideas from Harry Truman, whom his parents took him to see when he was a kid: "Truman was gray hatted, a slight figure, spoke in the same kind of nasal twang and tone like a country singer. I was mesmerized by his slow drawl and sense of seriousness and how people hung on every word he was saying." Pp. 230-231....

A Bob Dylan political opinion: "I wasn't that comfortable with all the psycho polemic babble. It wasn't my particular feast of food. Even the current news made me nervous. I liked the old news better." P. 283.
UPDATE: Meade and I are discussing the meaning of "Just look for the purple banana til they put us in the truck." I say it was what was a typical Prince message: Live it up because you're going to die. The banana is obviously the man's penis and the truck is the hearse that takes you away. Meade says the truck is the vagina. He agreed about the banana. 

16 comments:

Michael K said...

I prefer rockers graves. My daughter had to visit Jim Morrison;s grave in Pere Lachaise cemetary It had lots of flowers from idiot fans.

I preferred Chopin's tomb.

coupe said...

I'm willing to listen to his story about Elizabeth Taylor and the wheelchair...

He could probably write quite a bit about the record industry that would help a lot of kids not get ripped off, and have to change their name to "the former..."

David Begley said...

I liked the old news better too. Say, 1975 to 2001. After Vietnam and before The Relgion of Peace attacked us. In Dylan terms, after Blood on the Tracks.

traditionalguy said...

Saturday morning fun.

EDH said...

For Dylan, sounds like a creative influence.

Truman was gray hatted, a slight figure, spoke in the same kind of nasal twang and tone like a country singer.

rhhardin said...

Dolly Parton can do a mammoir.

rhhardin said...

The banana cabana.

rhhardin said...

The rut hut.

rhhardin said...

The artist formerly known as prick.

rhhardin said...

When you rearrange the letters of banana, it's called an anaban of banana.

Bob Ellison said...

I prefer the detachment of non-auto biographies. Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout is one of the best. (Sorry for non-Althouse-portal link.)

David said...

I've been hearing people say that the whole country is going bananas. Perhaps that is hopeful after all.

khematite said...

Of course, it's been fairly convincingly demonstrated that large chunks of Dylan's Chronicles were assembled, rather than written--as that has traditionally been defined. Though there's art in assembling, too.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150331112230/http://newhavenreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/NHR-006-Warmuth.pdf

traditionalguy said...

Prince is cute and uses his word tools well. But his Sex Tape will never measure up to Hulk Hogan's.

FullMoon said...

Bananas are berries.

Laslo Spatula said...

Prince's Autobiography: an Outline.

Chapter 1: Childhood Stuff No One Cares About and Will Skim Past.

Chapter 2: My Bitch about Sony, That Symbol Thing and More Stuff No One Cares About and Will Skim Past.

Chapter 3; Where I Banged Vanity.

Chapter 4: Where I Banged Apollonia.

Chapter 5: Where I Banged Carmen Electra.

Chapter 6: Where I Banged Shenna Easton.

Chapter 7: Where I try to Remember the Names of the Other Hundreds of Girls I Have Banged.

Chapter 8: How I Wrote 'Purple Rain'.

Chapter 9: My Complaints Against People Who Only Want to Know About "Purple Rain."

Chapter 10: What I have Done Since 'Purple Rain', and More Stuff No One Cares About and Will Skim Past.

Chapter 11: Oh Yeah: Where I Banged Kim Basinger Back When She Was Hot.


I am Laslo.