Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I feel Like a Sap

Apart from the usual and obvious, I am feeling particularly sap-like today. While browsing facebook I was caught by an ad for a book called The Year The Music Died. I read the advertising copy and it sounded just like a book I'd really enjoy. So I went on-line and bought it. It purported to be about pop music's best years - 1964 to 1972 - and, according to the cover, an irreverent look at the musicians and social movements of the time. What it didn't say is that it is not journalism, as it presents itself to be, but the narrow-minded prejudice of one guy. Not even a musician or industry insider; just a regular mug punter like you and me. What it consists of is a bunch of completely subjective opinions with nothing whatsoever to back them up - not even coherent argument.
Here are some examples: The first section of the book is called The First Tier. It comprises chapters about The Beatles - quote, 'As if they did not have everything else going for them, it is interesting that all three guitarists were the same height (5'11")' and here's a good one: The average song rating on Sgt. Pepper is 2,69 (out of 5). Rated by the author, totally subjectively, just his opinion. Then it goes on to cover John Lennon -The Rolling Stones - The Byrds - The Doors and finally Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
I go on at length about this because of the second section: The Second Tier begins with a long piece about The Beach Boys, then shorter pieces on Buffalo Springfield, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan (I'm not even a Dylan fan and I'd put him right up at or near the top of the first tier), Jimi Hendrix (did you think it could get worse?), The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkle, The Who and Neil Young. I get the impression that these are in order of (second division) greatness. And that's not to mention the copious number of charts, all based upon, you guessed it, the opinions of the author and absolutely nothing else.
Anyone but a masochist would have bailed at this point. Lord forgive me, but I read this thing right through to the end. I guess I'm like those people in Ballard's Crash who have a fascination for atrocity. And atrocity it is. It has to be self-published, although the publisher, Bridgeway Books, claims to be legit. However, I get the impression from their website that they CO-OPERATE with their authors; I read that as you pay them money and they'll publish it. What they don't give is editorial advice or even copy-editing from the looks of this piece of shhhh.... you know what, to paraphrase an old TV commercial for Ssssh.... you know who.
I would not have written this bitterly critical diatribe (I must look that up - bitterly critical is in the definition, I must be channeling the OED) had the idea of the book not appealed to me on such a gut level. I haven't looked forward to getting a book through the post in so long and I have never been so disappointed. Take a bow Dwight Rounds.

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