Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Book: Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

About a month ago, I finished reading Trouble Boys:  The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr. It was a fascinating and depressing biography of a band that could have and should have been one of the biggest alternative bands of the late '80s and early '90s. The Replacements were basically on the same career arc as R.E.M. -- and were much better and edgier, in my opinion. But where R.E.M. actually made wise career decisions, The Replacements engaged in self-sabotage like no other band in rock history.  Aside from the band's rampant alcoholism and drug abuse:  

  • They purposely tanked auditions for record labels.
  • They destroyed and regularly pissed all over their own tour bus (which they had to pay for).
  • They refused to release videos during the formative years of MTV.
  • They would show up wasted to meetings with records labels and do their best to piss off the people who could have given them record deals.
  • When they were given the chance to tour as openers for bigger acts (like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), they tried to alienate audiences.
  • They swore live on air when they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1986 (resulting in being blackballed from network television).
  • When they finally released a video, it was a song about teen suicide ("The Ledge"), right around the same time as several high-profile teen suicides around the country, so MTV refused to play it
  • They would play "pussy sets" when they didn't like the way a concert audience was reacting, basically bombing on purpose and playing random songs that they thought the audience would hate.
  • They would literally burn the money they got for their per diems.
  • When ostensibly promoting a record by doing radio interviews, they would often purposely piss off the very DJs who would have otherwise played their songs on the air. 

At the recommendation of a friend, I listened to the band's albums kind of chronologically as I was reading about the band making each album, and I definitely recommend doing the same. If nothing else, the band was a huge influence on the alternative rock scene in the late '80s and '90s, and the book was a great read, particularly if you are looking to read about one of those bands that people always say "why didn't they ever get big?" The answer here seems to be booze, drugs, and a paralyzing fear of success, but it's a hell of a ride. 

After four rock and roll biographies in a row, I decided to switch it up, going back to some horror/suspense.  I started reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. It's another collection of King's short stories. I read Night Shift last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then again, I don't think there's anything I've read by Stephen King that I haven't enjoyed. 

Books read in 2017:

-X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Ray Davies
-Phil Lynott: The Rocker by Mark Putterford
-I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman
-Trouble Boys:  The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr

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