Todd Snider Book

I Never Met  A story I didn't likeTodd Snider: I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like (Mostly True Tall Tales)

I picked up his book completely randomly one day; opened to a random page and read a good ten pages without looking up. From here I turned to the front of the book and read to the end. Needless to say I liked it collection of various, often hilarious, stories. A lot.

He has a very smooth, interesting and easy-to-read style of writing and he really knows how to tell a story (he basically nailed the two things every writers needs to be considered a good writer). Each chapter is a different story and the chapters flow in a non-linear way; bouncing around the timeline of his career with seemingly no order. As the bio progresses the chapters begin to link arms and by the conclusion I was able to draw together a pretty good picture of this guy’s life has been like so far. Snider has had a pretty awesome run so far.

From earning the respect songwriting hero’s like Jerry Jeff Walker, Kris Kristofferson, and John Prine at a young age to traveling the world many times over he’s had a damn good run.
I’m just not gonna go into any of his exploits; he tells it better then I could possibly summarize. I will mention that Kent Finlay, the owner of the Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos Texas played a huge part in Snider’s career. This part was all a surprise.  I’ve talked to Kent a few times at his Wednesday night open mic and he’s had very encouraging words for me about my music. He’s a Texas legend with a huge history; he’s also a great guy and it was awesome to see him get some much deserved recognition. (Read more here about Kent and Cheatham Street here)

Before reading this book I only knew a couple things about Todd Snider. One: that he was a music performer of some sort and two: that he wrote a talking-blues song called Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues and that it was funny. Now I know a bunch of things about him and it makes me want to listen to his music; which I will. Someday. In the meantime I hope he writes another book.

His website: http://www.toddsnider.net/
Link to get Book: http://www.amazon.com/Todd-Snider/e/B00EVJM7EI

Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace

I was excited to read this and in the end I’m glad I did but it was sort of a chore.

neilyoungbookNow please don’t take offense Neil, if you’re reading this, but it reads a lot like the journal of a 15 year old (as I’m sure much of my blog does). The prose and style is sort of cool because it gives you some insight into the thought process of this occasionally brilliant musician. The read itself is very disjointed and fragmented in parts, making it a  bit hard to follow and often unclear whether he had an editor cleaning up after him.

At times he digs a little too far into his day-to-day whatevers. He tended to hyper-focus on some of life’s trivialities, delving into minute details and dragging it all on and out for too long. For instance there’s pages where he just goes on and on about how cool his dog is and other sections about some of his friends that most readers probably have zero interest in. I suppose it’s all great stuff for helping us to understand that Mr. Young is just a mortal but it’s not the fodder we want. Those of us who excitedly who picked that book up were looking forward to a wealth of stories about how his songs were made, crazy escapades from the road and what it’s like behind the scenes with greats like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. Well at least that’s what I was looking for and that’s what you can usually expect from most any bio for a musician or band.

Don’t get me wrong there are definitely some amazing yawns.  My favorite, being an obsessive songwriter myself, is about the day he was sick with the flu or something and wrote Cinnamon Girl, Down By The River and Cowgirls in the Sand. What!? That’s unfucking real! Pardon my “fuck” word but seriously…  that’s maybe the best writing streak in the history of everything, ever.

youngyoungMy guess is that it doesn’t really matter whether you deem his ramblings good or bad and it probably never will. Neil Young has always done what Neil Young wants to do and this book is no exception. We would not have the immense and varied catalog of music he has left in his wake if he wasn’t such a stubborn bastard. He is also an honest and caring bastard who stays completely true to his artistic vision and to those he loves and respects. He’s a good guy and deserves a little forgiveness for publishing a good chunk of mental free-associations.

The book is 512 pages; a pretty hefty read. Had someone chopped it up and kept only the more interesting stuff it would easily have weighed in under 300 pages.  That being said if he decides to put out another book (and I kinda hope he does ) I’d happily read it; boring ramblings and all. *((see below for follow-up))

Waging Heavy Peace; Neil Young talked a lot but didn’t say too much.  There’s still a lot of mystery left for me; I guess I have somewhat of a tolerance for listening to genius’ talk about nothing.

Here’s another good read on the man. The Rolling Stone Files. It’s basically complied articles and interviews from over the years.

FOLLOW UP** – So shortly after writing this I came upon news that he has in fact released another book A Memoir; Life and Cars – Cool.

Great Reads / Part 2

These last few years I’ve been on a tear with the reading thing. Even did away with Netflix as the before-bed pacifier. Here’s a few more to ad my list of great books. Many more to come…

slashsbioSlash – by well…Slash.
I don’t care if you like Guns N’ Roses music or even music in general. This here is an incredible read. His exploits and debauchery had me burning through this bio in one solid string of hours. I think I stayed up until the sun rose; couldn’t put it down. This master guitar-slinger actually lived the hard-ships and wild times the other poser bad-boy bands sang about.
Buy it here –


goddelusiondawkins
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins.
Agree or disagree with his views on what god is or isn’t but he builds a solid case for his point of view using solid logic. Show me a better argument (using rationality) and I’ll believe that instead.
Buy it here –

 

 

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill shorthistbillbrysonBryson.
Leaning heavily on the sciences this book really covers nearly everything. cells, atoms, geology, genes, space, dinosaurs, plate tech tonics, extinctions (then and now), medicine… yeah, everything.  I’ve read it twice and even found the audio-book on CD which I’ve listened to on countless road trips; I highly recommend. I find the British narrators voice soothing. You can get hardcover, paperback and even a textbook style one with pictures.
Buy Here –

banksyWall and Piece – Banksy
This is a coffee table picture book by the elusive British street artist known only as Banksy . This dude makes thought provoking street art challenging the accepted beliefs that we are continuously bombarded with from the media to those within our own ranks afraid to question authority. His messages are challenging and his art exquisitely executed.
Buy Here-

East Of Eden – John Steinbeckeastofeden
This held steady as my favorite book ever until a certain Cormac McCarthy book came along… more on that another time. This master storyteller weaves five novels worth of complax situations and lives into one huge masterpiece.  His handle on prose is more vivid then any movie you’ll ever see.
Buy Here-

 


 

The last installment of great reads in case you missed it…

A Few Great Reads / Part 1

The iPhone and its simple yet addictive apps have hijacked my nighttime reading ritual lately.  There is a pile of a dozen or so half read books staring at me every time I lay down to play my turn at Words With Friends or pop pigs with Angry Birds.  As of late I feel the newness and luster of these miniature time-sucking games wearing off and the stack of books calling again. Here’s a few books which if I collected them would be at the top of the shelf.

siddhartha-book-coverSiddhartha: Herman Hesse

I have read this novel more times than any other I think.  Each read brings something new into my life.  No matter where I am in my degree of growth change there is always something to learn and apply.
Buy On Amazon-
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Fierce Invalids RobbinsFierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates: Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins puts more to think about in one sentence than most good writers can cram into a chapter or for some an entire book.  This is by far one of the best books you will ever read if you are into something creative and out of the ordinary.
Buy On Amazon-

 

Demon Haunted SaganDemon Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark: Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

Basically short essays touching on most everything controversial and sublime about life.  Written by one of the few scientific geniuses of this world that could translate complicated ideas eloquently and simply enough so people like me can follow along.  Sagan is one the most thoughtful critical thinkers of the last 1000 years; the world would be a better place if he was running it.
Buy On Amazon –


imagesThe Things they Carried: Tim O’Brien

The forward claims it’s fiction but I find that hard to believe as do many others. It appears that it’s a way of distancing those involved from the actuality of his experience.  It’s one mans account (told like a fiction story) of his Vietnam experience and how it tied into his later life. It’s been a while since I read this so I don’t remember all the details but I do remember not being able put it down till it was done.
Buy On Amazon –


Hearts in Atlantis
: Stephen King
Hearts in Atlantis

To stave off the boredom of a 45 minute bus ride everyday to and from junior high school I started reading Stephen King books; my first was Christine.  I believe this habit started in the 6th grade.  Anyway, all these years later I have read everything he wrote before  2004 and a few that were published after and a good many of the books twice (The Stand, The Talisman, Bag of Bones, The Gunslingers, to name a few…).

Some reading snobs consider him kitsch and honestly, more times than not, I’m not into the content being served; I’m just not a horror fan. And again, if I can be honest, I’ve never really considered him “horror” even though I guess he’s the king of that.

It’s the ease of his writing and the ease of reading his style that fascinates me.  Unlike many writers he consistently paints a vivid and interesting picture; I sink into his prose like it was a friendly old couch. The type of couch that’s so comfortable you really don’t care that it’s in a room you don’t like to much.  But Hearts in Atlantis I would consider t be a work of suspenseful (at times) drama.
Buy On Amazon –