A bit of a cheat: a music two-fer. One is old, but the other’s new; nonetheless, given the difficulty of finding your audience in the ocean of new publications out there, it deserves a boost to the signal.
The Fall: Lyrics by Mark E. Smith
The lynchpin of my current writing career: what, you think I exaggerate? With stories like “It’s a Curse” and “Bill is Dead” and “Mandrake Anthrax” and “Grotesque” and “Just Waiting”? I do occasionally have stories not inspired by Smith’s lyrics but they’re getting to be in the minority. The Fall’s lyrics are like Zen koans mashed up with the ramblings of a mad meth drinker with overstuffed carrier bags.
My garden is made of stone
There’s a computer centre over the road
I saw a monster on the roof
Its colours glowed on the roof
All the songs in this collection will forever be coloured by reading the German translations out loud on the tube going back from Kentish Town to Stockwell while giggling madly after that first hypnotic show. Magic.
John Hodgson’s A Hard Road to Nowhere: The Blitzkrieg Bop Story captures that story from the other side of the equation; the intoxicating, maddening, frustrating and elating process of forging music in the fluctuating organism that is a band — or rather a series of bands that finally create a centre of gravity that becomes Blitzkrieg Bop. Obviously blown away by The Ramones at a crucial age, Hodgson and his fellow bandmates find a wellspring of inspiration as the first eruptions of punk arrive in the remote northeast of England. The third person narrative occasionally feels a bit awkward but it provides a way to highlight the pages ripped from Hodgson’s journals of the period, which capture the youthful highs and lows with vivid authenticity.
Cheap as chips: get it now — and be sure to bookmark Hodgson’s Soundcloud page for the music to accompany it. A wide variety of songs, old and new and updated. Good stuff.
See also my review of Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo over at A Knife & A Quill.