I am reading Songbook by Nick Hornby. Anyone who has read or seen High Fidelity knows what a music fanatic Hornby is. If you look for the book, see if you can find the McSweeney’s edition because it has a cd with some of the songs he talks about.
We’ve had the book awhile and at first it lived in Bob’s stuff but he realized that I must read it and it traveled into my stuff where it’s been sitting, waiting to be read, while I amused myself with screenwriting and not reading and that sort of thing. Now that I’m into it, I love this book. The essays are short and thoughtful and he’s gotten me interested in songs again.
Once upon a time, I was a music freak. But not so much anymore. Music is something in the background while I do something else. My favorite music is usually fast and thumpy and loud, and as often as not, close to 20 years old. I had to drive Bob’s car today (long story omitted) and I had the radio and didn’t have my stations on the buttons so I stuck on the classic rock station and made a point to pay attention to the songs. Beatles. Rod Stewart. Springsteen. It was awesome. I’m going through the random sidebar cds that we have stacked around the house and loading them into iTunes (for example, Morcheeba) and finally listening. We have a lot of great stuff around here. And what a gift that Hornby’s woken me up to it again.
He writes about my hero Paul Westerberg and a song from Suicaine Gratification (an excellent album, criminally overlooked by the world-at-large). He talks about solos and says this: “… his solo on “Born for Me” is just lovely–maybe because he’s the singer-songwriter, and knows what the song should feel like to us. “Born for me” is a Waitsian lonely loser’s lyric and an affectively heartsick tune; the solo is basically played with one finger … . A better pianist would have wrecked the moment, filled in the gaps, failed to recognize how the tune has exerted a spell over the right listener … I can never listen to the solo without thinking that it’s played by a born musician a virtuoso, not even someone who could make a living as pianist in a cocktail lounge, just a man who thinks and feels and loves and speaks in music.”