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August 7, 2007

Note Books - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

The Note Books series features musicians discussing their literary side. Past contributors have included John Darnielle, John Vanderslice, and many others.

Imagine my surprise this morning when preparing this post and channel surfing, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were playing on Good Morning America. With a dynamic live show, skillful songwriting, and a healthy dose of soul, Grace Potter earns frequent comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, who called the band "one of the most soulful new bands around."

The band released its second album, This Is Somewhere, today.

In their own words, here is the Note Books entry from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals:

Scott Tournet -- Guitar

Wow...I got into rock & roll so I wouldn't have to work a regular job or continue doing homework. Oddly enough, the more successful we get, the more of I do of both!!! Reading books has always been a big part of my life though, so it's cool to be able to pass on some of my favorites. A great author can be like a great singer-songwriter or a virtuoso musician. They can make you re-think what you thought you knew, make you laugh until you cry, cry until you laugh, or just provide an escape from your boring day to day routine. As with musicians, I tend to gravitate to the rebels...

Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski

This is Bukowski's auto-biography, but it's a great place to start with him. A lot of people get immediately turned off by Bukowski's drinking, treatment of women, and general barbaric approach to life, but once you read about his upbringing and the times he was living in you start to understand that he goes way deeper while keeping it very very simple...There's some primate in all of us and Mr. Bukowski will help you find it. (Bukowski's recommended drink: Seagram's 7 and 7-UP)

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

I just read this one on the road (it's only about 100 pages). It's more like a loose memoir than a book, but it was nice to see Vonnegut old and cranky without anymore metaphors up his sleeve and just laying it down however he felt. This man sees through the bullshit. I'd recommend any of his books, but my favorites are Player Piano, Cat's Cradle, and of course Slaughterhouse-Five.

Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins is like a combination of Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, and that friend in High School that would sneak in the bottle of whiskey to the dance...I Love him!!! What makes him different than Vonnegut is his nose for mischief and L.S.D. Another Roadside Attraction is his first book, and by far his most psychedelic. I think I like it the most because it's just unabashed. He completely disregards subtlety and reaches for the stars from the characters to the plot to the cover. He plows through all the rules and by doing so shows you that the rules are bullshit and that the people who make them up suck!!!

Grace Potter – Vocals, Guitar, Hammond B-3 Organ

How I view reading: I really don't read. It's one of my great weaknesses. Whenever I do pick up a book, I feel better about myself: more thoughtful, more educated, less shallow. Nonetheless, I can never seem to finish a book. I think it dates back to high school when I could get away with not reading an entire book, and I could just skim a really obscure part of the book and talk all day about it.

When I AM reading it’s usually magazines. I must say MOJO still holds the title as the all time greatest music rag ever. I'll pick up a NYLON, MAGNET or a FADER magazine every once and a while, but only when I'm feeling cynical. A good Rolling Stone read always tickles my fancy as long as Fall Out Boy isn't on the cover.

Book I have started and never finished include everything from Hemingway's writings to the "Mists of Avalon."

Matt Burr - Drums

Reading has certainly taken a backseat since I discovered other time passing delights. For me, it’s all about the perfect writing and the perfect style. I love books that are a quick, energized reads. My favorite types are music biographies, “making of” writings, and non-fiction tales. I'm also a music mag junky and a lover of the New York Times. Here are a few examples to give you a taste of my current reading world:

Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend by Tony Fletcher

Keith Moon is one of my favorite all time drummers next to The Muppet’s Animal. Both of them choose feel over style and filth over good looks. Moon merrily embraced the fact he was an ADD, fame seeking maniac who was born to wail on the tubs. He always looked like a monkey behind the drum set, but this never bothered him because he was and will always be one of the most inventive drummers of all time. This book is (I say IS because I’m only 50% through...that's an example of my sporadic reading tendencies!) a great read for me because it follows the career of one of Rock n’ Roll’s wildest personas of all time. To the disbelief of many, Moon was right up there with insanely brilliant figures like Janis Joplin and Keith Richards. This book proves that.

Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds by Ben Mezrich

“Bustin Vegas…” is of the quickest reads I’ve had in a great long while. I found this gem at the Seattle Airport and purchased it based on the shocking fact that the Oceans 11/Rounders-esque description on the back was a TRUE STORY! This is a remarkable story of several MIT students who figured out a formula to crack our worlds gambling system and steal massive amounts of money from the rich. It was inspiring because I’m a quite often angered by how evil the gambling world can be. I was silently cheering every time these kids beat the seemingly bullet proof system.

Louis Armstrong – An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen

Like Keith Moon, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was one of the most memorable characters in the history of music. His voice and stage presence has never been matched and his off the stage antics with things like women, pot, and laxatives made this a lightning read. Bergreen also did a wonderful job weaving the history of jazz/blues with Armstrong personal life.

Mystery Train – Images of America in Rock n’ Roll Music by Greil Marcus

Greil Marcus is one of the best music writers to ever step on the scene. His writings on The Band may very well be the best critique of the group. The book also includes solid writings on Sly Stone, Randy Newman, Elvis, and Robert Johnson.

When The Levee Breaks – The Making of Led Zeppelin IV by Andy Fyfe

Even though “Making of” music books are typically very short, I love them because I find it fascinating to learn about the process behind the creation of my favorite records like “Led Zeppelin IV” Some of these books are not as great as others, but the good ones will even go as far as listing off how sounds were captured and what instruments were played. Stuff a music a junky digs.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals links:

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' website
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' MySpace page
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' Indie911 page

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals tracks at Hype Machine
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals tracks at Largehearted Boy
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals shows at the Live Music Archive

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)
Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Interviews (authors interview musicians and vice versa)
Book Reviews


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