Aug 052020

I hope you’ve been enjoying our Pandemic Relief Reboot of Rock Town Hall. I believe all of you who have been regular participants in our resumed discussions have contributor/author rights, meaning you can enter the Back Office and draft new thread content for the Main Stage. Let me know if you have any questions or need a refresher on how drafting posts works. This is your Rock Town Hall. Feel as comfortable as the members of a reunited Buffalo Springfield felt in Stephen Stills’ living room in 1986. Thanks.


  12 Responses to “This Is Your Rock Town Hall”

  1. Great story passed along regarding a stolen stage prop that was returned to the band, ages later. The theft was purportedly by an old-time Philly punk, who passed years ago.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    I can’t recall how much we’ve discussed the surprisingly scant genre of rock literature. I just finished David Mitchell’s “Utopia Avenue” and I’m saddened to say: it wasn’t very good. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. It had the “four threads twisted together to become a beautiful skein of yarn” plot that I enjoy (bad metaphor aside). For fans of music from 1966-1968, there are plenty of lyrics and appearances from the musicians and bands you love. There are descriptions of raucous live shows. There is mention of gear, the difficulties/ease of writing a single, and the important choices of keys and instruments to take a song to a higher level. There are band arguments/appreciations. Even the manager seems to be a good bloke. And ultimately, there is the path from poverty to stardom. This book used every rock cliche you can think of and then those you didn’t realize were cliches until you read them. I don’t know whether Mitchell did so purposefully, and possibly as a foil for a very Mitchellesque subplot of demonic possession and interconnected lives. Even with phantasmogoria, music studios and acid trips, the book didn’t feel real. It didn’t read 1960’s, and instead seemed to reflect the present day with some 60’s music personalities thrown in for color and texture. I mourn the wasted 571 pages and think about what might have been.

    If I had to rank this with other rock literature, I would place it below the recent and more realistic “Doxology” (Nell Zink) and far below Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” Don DeLillo’s “Great Jones Street” has less plot but better rock squalor. I’ve got Jonathan Lethem’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet” cued up next. I hope that book works better.

    Any good rock literature to recommend? Please?

  3. I had some problems with The Bone Clocks and the related Slade House. The writing was great as was the multi-part structure, in the former, but the whole premise just seemed a little too Potteresque. They were a big letdown after “The Thousand Autumns…” which I thought was perfect. I will buy and read the new one because I do love me some David Mitchell, but it didn’t sound like it was gonna work for me.

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    Geo, I’ll be interested in your take on “Utopia Avenue.” It’s such a weird book but I need a second opinion from another Mitchell fan. (There is considerable relation to “The Thousand Autumns,” including a character who is a relative to the De Zoet in that novel. I never read that one because Mr. Royale didn’t like it, but now I’m wondering if it would give more context to UA) I thought “Black Swan Green” really reflected that time in the 80s (Falkland War-era Britain) but this one didn’t feel 60’s, what ever that means. (Happiness Stan – any thoughts here?) Maybe the broader question here is how does one reflect a time period and it’s related musical scene in a way that feels real? People can do this with film, so why is it so hard in a novel?

  5. Happiness Stan

    LadyMK, I’m not familiar with Mitchell’s writing, I read a review of the new book a couple of weeks ago and it absolutely slated it, so I’m not tempted. I never get political on public forums, but the early eighties were hard for me, and everyone else looking for and failing to find work, while Thatcher took us to war just in time to win the election. I can’t look back at that time with much fondness or enthusiasm, I certainly wouldn’t want to read a book about it, particularly a bad one.

    Curiously enough, I’ve always wanted to write a book and have just finished editing my first, which I’ve sent out to a couple of people for comments, after which I expect to write it all over again. In the meantime, I’ve started another, which draws heavily on what I remember of the music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. So hopefully it’s manageable, otherwise I’m stuffed.

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    HS: “Black Swan Green” is more of a coming-of-age story and the politics are incidental. And it’s really well written, like most of Mitchell’s other novels. I think I was floored by UA because it didn’t seem well written, but maybe there was an underlying intent by the author that I didn’t get. But I totally get not wanting to read about a horrid era.

    I’m really curious about how, in your writings, you will evoke the music scene of the 60’s and 70’s. I’m realizing, after reading one that didn’t work, that it’s a true art to be able to write a book that does. I hope you will share some of your writings with us.

  7. LMKR: As was revealed pretty explicitly in The Bone Clocks, there are connected characters and elements throughout all of his books. I’m doubtful that the connection to the Thousand Autumns would do much to improve Utopia Avenue since it did little to improve Bone Clocks for me. The weird, supernatural plot elements in Thousand Autumns were not the most compelling thing about the book, rather it was his rendering of a very alien moment of history in a way that seemed to really bring it to life.

    I don’t expect Utopia Avenue to have the same veracity as Black Swan Green which hewed very close to Mitchell’s biography: it was a time, place and, for all appearances character that he experienced first hand. I would not expect him to have the same feel for the 60’s. He’s too young and there are too many cultural caricatures obscuring the reality.

  8. WFMU’s Michael Shelley did a nice interview with world’s greatest bass player and Elvis arch-nemesis Bruce Thomas. Of course the milk is still a little sour, but it was pretty interesting.

  9. Thanks for the reminder, geo! I forgot to listen to that live today. I’ll definitely tune into the archived edition.

  10. Happiness Stan

    LMKR, not sure how I’m going to do it either! One of my editors for my first volume (it’s so niche I’m only expecting about fifty people to want to read it, so I certainly can’t afford to get it edited professionally – I’ve laboured over every bloody paragraph until I’m sick of the sight of almost every one at the moment) says he’s really enjoying it, so that’s made me happy. I might post some extracts from the new volume here as I go along, if Mr Mod’s ok with that?

  11. Happiness Stan, real quick: It’s been a really busy couple of weeks for me. Sorry I’ve been out of touch. Two things: 1) we would be HONORED to publish some excerpts of your work; 2) I am an editor by trade. Let’s talk off list and I will GLADLY help you out with any editing free of charge. More soon!

  12. Happiness Stan

    Mr Mod, 1, thanks, 2, I had no idea that was your line of work, huge thanks! Please do drop me an email when you’re less pressured and have a moment to talk 🙂

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