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May 14, 2008

Book Notes - Mike Edison ("I Have Fun Everywhere I Go")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

I Have Fun Everywhere I Go is a whirlwind of a memoir. Capturing his experiences as a touring musician, writing pulp pornographic novels, covering professional wrestling and writing for mens magazines and editing High Times, the book is alternately funny and tragic, and a clear snapshot of alternative culture in the late 80's and 90's.

This week Edison released an album of spoken word performances featuring excerpts from the book. The album, produced by Jon Spencer, offers an excellent preview of the book, here is one of the tracks:

"GG Allin Died Last Night" [mp3] from I Have Fun Everywhere I Go (the album)

Mike Edison's book tour starts next week, complete with performances by his band Edison Rocket Train:

* 05/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Book Soup
* 05/20 San Francisco, CA @ Book Passage
* 05/21 Seattle, WA @ University Bookstore
* 05/22 Portland, OR @ Powell's Books
* 06/04 Philadelphia, PA @ Tritone
* 06/16 New York, NY @ Half King Reading Series
* 06/19 Brooklyn, NY @ Pete's Candy Store
* 09/30 New York, NY @ KGB Reading Series

Publishers Weekly said of the book:

"This hilarious insider look at fringes of journalism and magazine publishing is written with a gleeful burning-his-bridges-behind-him vibe."

In his own words, here is Mike Edison's Book Notes essay for his book, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go:


I know my book is largely about punk rock (and pot and pornography and pro-wrestling), but I wrote the entire thing listening to Mozart. I can’t listen to rock or jazz when I write (with the odd exception of Dexter Gordon, who is both interesting and non-confrontational). Mozart fills the room with energy and I can absorb it while I work. My favorites are the late symphonies, especially No. 40, and also No. 25, interestingly enough (at least for music wonks) the only two symphonies that he wrote in a minor key. (No. 25 is the music used at the beginning of the film Amadeus, and I generally refer to it as the “Sonic Reducer Symphony” because the four-note figure at the beginning of the first movement sounds just like the bass line to the Dead Boy’s song.)

I could probably draw up a good soundtrack just from the pages of the book, beginning with the artists who left their sonic stamp on the right side of my brain (Capt. Beefheart, The Stooges, Rolling Stones, early Who, Hendrix, the Troggs, Sex Pistols, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, James Brown, etc. etc.) or the bands I used to gig with and who are mentioned in the text (Reagan Youth, Mudhoney, GG Allin, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Ramones, the Mekons), or just my favorite Sun Ra records, which would give me a pretty good excuse to smoke one of those jazz cigarettes and get out my copy of Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy.

And then I considered making a list of my favorite songs about professional wrestling (starting with “The Crusher,” by the Novas, obviously, and my own version of “I Like to Hurt People” featuring Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators, which was the theme song of the film of the same name about the legendary Sheik from Detroit, who used to carve people up with a sharpened wooden tongue depressor), or my favorite songs by professional wrestlers (e.g. “Pencil Neck Geek” by Classy Freddie Blassie, and the incredibly f*cked-up version of “Memphis” by Jerry “The King Lawler,” produced by Jim Dickinson, apparently during a pretty severe tranquilizer jag, available on the It Came From Memphis CD).

But in the end I thought I could make a good playlist of the CDs I like to listen to while drinking beer in the shower (in cans, ice cold, and never bottles, for safety reasons), which is my favorite place to listen to music, my own private spa (described in I Have Fun as a crucial ingredient of “the Edison Cure”), until I can afford better. Herewith, the Top Ten.


Physical Graffitti – Led Zeppelin

Zeppelin is all about the drums and they never sound better than blasting out of a boom box, bouncing around the bathroom. Side One is the default — crushingest guitars ever, and that gigantic beat. Runner Up: Led Zeppelin IV. The only part that sucks is when I have to get out of the shower to skip over “Going to California” to get to “Misty Mountain Hop.”


Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony — Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic

This is what I listen to when I am getting ready for a date. The tympani part really kicks my ass. And I am always sure to turn it off before the “Ode to Joy” part begins (I can’t stand the sound of those voices), although I can drink an entire six pack before I get there. Always on deck: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic), one of the few things in life that are not overrated. (Both on Deutsche Grammophon, of course, the best label ever, better even than K-Tel).


Walk Among Us — The Misfits

There has never been a better record to sing-along with. Period.


There’s a Riot Going On – Sly & the Family Stone

It was listening to this that inspired me to invent a method of snorting cocaine in the shower. It involves a version of Archimede’s lever and is far too complex to go into here.


Hank Williams’ Greatest Hits

Good hangover music. Actually, the whole drinking beer in the shower thing started as a hangover cure, but kind of grew into a lifestyle component.


It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy

This was the best record of the entire 1980s. What a racket! I never get tired of this.


Tear It Up! — Johnny Burnette Rock’n’Roll Trio

I have been obsessed with this record since I was a teenager. How did they get the guitar to sound like that?? This features the original version of Train Kept A Rollin’, the best version, Aerosmith’s take on Double Live Bootleg notwithstanding.


Songs the Lord Taught Us – The Cramps

The last good record they made, before they got all paisley and chick friendly and ran out of ideas. Just a fuzzed-out, mean-spirited mess. Remarkably, the sound of the shower is actually in the same key as this record.


Plastic Fang – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Another enormous-sounding, brain-smashing record that benefits from being played at top volume in a small, tiled room. The book on this is that it was too much “blues” and too little “explosion,” but it holds up next to any rock ’n’ roll record of the last twenty years. Great Saturday morning soundtrack, and much more fun than the cartoons they show on TV these days.


Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival

When I listen to this I like to leave the fan off and get the bathroom good and steamy, an urban replication a Louisiana swamp.


Mike Edison and I Have Fun Everywhere I Go links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
the author's current band, Edison Rocket Train
the author's upcoming book tour dates
the book's page at the publisher

BPM review
Lost in a Supermarket review
Publishers Weekly review

Dig It! interview with the author
Harp articles by the author
Metromix Los Angeles interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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