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March 31, 2016

Book Notes - Rob Spillman "All Tomorrow's Parties"

All Tomorrow's Parties

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Rob Spillman's All Tomorrow's Parties is an engrossing memoir of self-discovery through the arts that spans two continents.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Musically and culturally astute, this well-structured book is a delightful coming-of-age story couched within a travel narrative that deftly evokes one of the major historical moments of the 20th century. A richly detailed and always engaging memoir on artistic discovery."


In his own words, here is Rob Spillman's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir All Tomorrow's Parties:


As I am the son of two musicians, All Tomorrow's Parties is heavily influenced by music. The memoir chronicles my search for an artistic home and voice, taking me my from my childhood home of Berlin to Baltimore, New York, and back to Berlin during the fall of the Wall. Each of the sixty-five chapters has a soundtrack, songs from the Sex Pistols to Satie, from the Bad Brains to Bartok. I dipped in and out of all of these songs in the ten years while writing the memoir, but when I was in a groove, I tended to listen to completely obliterative music, which mirrored how I felt for much of the time period covered in the book, namely from the ages of fourteen to twenty-five. Here are the most played songs and albums:

"Pink Lady Lemonade" by Acid Mother's Temple
The heaviest of heavy rotations. I've seen the Japanese hippy noise band several times, and every single performance they play "Pink Lady Lemonade." Sometimes it lasts seventeen minutes, sometimes forty-five. The mesmerizing, lilting opening refrain is the gateway drug, a tear in the cosmic fragment leading to an infinite number of sonic wonderlands, and each trip is different, much like the writing experience.

"Revolution" by Spacemen 3
The 80s British noise band call for revolution is bracing, relentless.

"Revolution" by Mudhoney
The Seattle band's cover of Spacemen 3 turns the revolution inward, substituting the overthrow of the government with a morphine suppository.

Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs by Spacemen 3
Top 10 album title. The entire album is more in line with Mudhoney's interiority, but with a snarl.

Loveless (album) and Tremolo (EP) by My Bloody Valentine
With headphones, you can approximate what it was like seeing them on June 19, 1992, at the Ritz (with two-drummer-era Pavement opening for them). Simon Reynolds called it "beautiful music through a dirty needle." The assault was total. Each bass drum kick concussed my Adam's apple. When they returned to New York in 2008, MBV tested their new equipment and it registered 145 decibels. The last entry for "Loudest Rock Band" in the Guinness Book of World Records was for the Who at 126 decibels, before Guinness abandoned the category for fear of encouraging permanent hearing loss. A jet engine at 50 feet measures 130 decibels. In 2008, when I saw MBV, the wall of noise cut right through me. All around people were doubled over in pain, holding their hands over their ears which already had earplugs in them (they were mandatory, handed out at the door). When the band went into their loop at the end of "You Made Me Realize" (which could last 20 to 45 minutes depending on the mood), many people moved back toward the exits. I was pulled forward.

"Smile" by Boris
A relentless and strange album by the Japanese noise band. Another band I've seen live many times. Wata, the lead guitarist, who may weigh a hundred pounds and looks like she could pass as a Tokyo banker, calmly brings forth the wrath from god knows where.

"Yoo Doo Right" by Can
A twenty-minute German hippy drum freakout that, when looped, makes whole writing afternoons blur by.

"Shoot Speed/Kill Light" by Primal Scream
Aggro-hedonism. In 2000, when the Scottish drug fiends were touring for the album XTRMNTR, Kevin Shields from MBV joined them on guitar, creating a driving, disorienting wall of sound. A beer on May 28 at the Hammerstein Ballroom while surrounded by Scots on Ecstasy, all in sync with Primal Scream, that was the last drink I ever had.


Rob Spillman and All Tomorrow's Parties links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

PEN America interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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