May 13, 2009
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.
Dean Wareham's Black Postcards is an emotionally honest memoir that follows him through the highs and lows of his life and music career, from his youth to his time in the seminal bands Galaxie 500 and Luna.
Being a memoir by a musician, my book, Black Postcards, does cover a lot of musical ground, beginning with early memories like "Georgy Girl" by the Seekers, ranging through disco, punk, new wave, the paisley underground, shoegazers, a long list of band names from Dogzilla to When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water to I Love You But I Have Chosen Darkness. Here are a few songs that informed my book.
"The Boy with Perpetual Nervousness" – The Feelies
From my very favorite album, Crazy Rhythms, which came out in 1980 and made a huge impression on me. Currently out-of-print, which is an achievement in itself; everything is in print these days. But apparently it will be re-released on Bar/None this summer, and the reunited Feelies will play the entire album in its entirety at the ATP festival. This song demonstrates the Feelies' trick of fading a song up real slow, something they even do live.
"Now is Better Than Before" – Jonathan Richman
A great love song from his Rockin' & Romance album. Richman writes songs full of odd detail, songs about painters, leprechauns and chewing gum wrappers, and I would rather hear him play guitar than, say, Eric Clapton. I met him 20 years ago, when we three in Galaxie 500 presented him with our first album.
Sometimes I think that I'm
Just a comfort to her
And not that same old lover
From the days of the Fenway and Kenmore
But then it's yesterday once more, and
Now is better than before.
"Heaven" by Pere Ubu
My brother Anthony bought me Pere Ubu's EP Datapanik in the Year Zero, probably in 1980 (it was released in 1978), featuring tracks like "Heart of Darkness" -- with one of my favorite guitar breaks ever -- and the almost-reggae "Heaven." I am also partial to "Heaven" by Talking Heads.
"The Sky Children" by Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope (the UK-psych band from the 60s, not the American one). This is an eight-minute epic about the sky children and their fairy-tale journey, flying in a chariot of gold to a future land of sunshine and flowers, where turtles in caves made pies and lemonade, and then further, in a boat, with a porcupine captain and his crew of six rabbits with fluffy white ears. I remember well sitting in an apartment in Munich, listening to this one with my friend Armin, drummer for the great German band the Bartlebees. Armin had a fabulous record collection. He was also a postman, and a Donaldist (a card-carrying member of the German Donald Duck club).
"Where's the Playground Susie" by Glen Campbell
This was one of the songs that helped me through my divorce. Actually that's not true, it didn't help at all, but I listened to Glen Campbell to test out my new stereo in my tiny new apartment, singing "the end has come and found us here / with our toys scattered all around us here." I would also like to add that Meet Glen Campbell was one of the surprise best albums of 2008. He does a real nice job of the Velvet Underground's "Jesus".
Dean Wareham and Black Postcards links:
Baltimore City Pages review
Largehearted Boy review
Lost in Translation review
New York Times review (by Liz Phair)
Portland Mercury review
Sound of the City review
Time Out New York review
A.V. Club feature with the author
The KEXP Blog interview with the author
Magnet interview with the author
Penguin interview with the author
Stop Smiling interview with the author
WNYC interview with the author
also at Largehearted Boy:
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