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A Cure For Gravity: A Musical Pilgrimage Paperback – October 25, 2000


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A Cure For Gravity: A Musical Pilgrimage + Steppin' Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (October 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810015
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Something more than a journeyman and less than a superstar, Joe Jackson has a reputation for being a reclusive and prickly character. But he refuses the low road with A Cure for Gravity, a resolutely non-lurid autobiography of a man who considers music to be a noble calling. It matters not that the author was once lumped in with England's insurgent first-generation punks and new-wavers; here Jackson insistently focuses on his development as a composer, player, and performer, approximately in that order. Born to modest means in a setting where a sickly, creative youngster such as Jackson was regarded with suspicion, if not contempt, the young Brit was trained in the classics and developed his keyboard skills, playing everything from cabaret to progressive rock before finally setting off on his own as a sharp-tongued, ska-influenced Angry Young Man. A more sophisticated musician than his rag-tag running mates (he's recently released an ambitious fusion of pop, jazz, and classical elements dubbed Symphony No. 1), Jackson revels in the intricacies of his craft--as much or more than he does in telling his own up-from-the-gutter tale. Old new-wavers who remember the author from his 1978 Look Sharp! debut and devotees of his more stylish early '80s recordings may be caught off guard by the short shrift Jackson gives his actual recording career; indeed, he shrugs off a couple decades in the final pages of the book. But the articulate, idiosyncratic author is clearly more interested in addressing what makes a musician than what happens once a musician has it made. --Steven Stolder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

To the credit of popular 1980s British singer/composer Jackson ("Is She Really Going Out with Him?" "Steppin' Out"), there is little melodrama to this bookAhis hit recordings, beginning with Look Sharp in 1979, receive only brief mention in the final chapters. Instead, Jackson presents a portrait of the artist as a young geek, detailing the quiet undulations of his life as an intensely introspective, gifted musician growing up outside of London, studying at conservatory and touring around in much derided bar bands. We see the 14-year-old Jackson obsessing over Beethoven's Eroica symphony ("As the fanfare comes to a halt, there's a pregnant pause: What's this lunatic going to do now?"); we see him on his way to the Royal Academy of Music ("As the ferry docked, the workers poured like a sluggish plague of locusts through the Dockyard Gate, and I boarded the London train"); and we see him pouring beer on drunk women during bar fights in obscure locations. Fellow musicians, no matter their chosen genre, may see themselves in Jackson's accounts of pathetic pub gigs and unpleasant music industry dealings. Jackson is an easy, natural writer, sometimes an excellent one. He is often funny, and though a bit digressive, the book is worth reading for its style alone. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book takes about 3 afternoons to read.
Lemas Mitchell
I found myself reading this for hours on end: the book is gripping, the story interesting.
Spencer
I highly recommend this book to fans of all musical genres.
Frank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul F. Johnson on October 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a devoted fan of Joe Jackson, A Cure for Gravity was something I HAD to read, just as the purchase of each of his musical releases is mandatory. But this book isn't just for JJ fans. It's for anyone who's tried to come to terms with that most enigmatic of subjects -- why are we so drawn to and rewarded by this thing called music?
It's a tricky subject to tackle for anyone, and the fact that a (some would say) faded pop star has taken a whack is probably doomed to failure. The book, however, reveals much about what makes an artist just that, and also why so many of us find ourselves touched by music in a way nothing else can move us.
That all sounds very serious, perhaps a bit maudlin to some, and the book does address some heady philosophical subjects. It also made me laugh out loud often as Joe weaves some highly entertaining tales about gigs gone bad, singular characters in the music world, and aspects of his own, often misunderstood character.
It's a great musical memoir in its classic "rise to the top" storytelling, and those parts of the book will appeal to any reader. Damn, if the man isn't as skilled with the computer keyboard as he is with the piano. His lengthy discussions on the nature of music's appeal, though, might turn off the casual reader, but end up being the essential central theme of the book for those of us who are caught under the spell of music.
First, read this book, then start listening to Joe's musical releases over the last 10 years and you'll begin to understand exactly what he's trying to uncover with this ambitious, and successful work.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Even if you're not a fan of Joe Jackson, you'll find this book a fascinating read. Most celebrity autobiographies are a litany of sex, drugs, and self-serving anecdotes, but this book focuses on the journey of becoming a true musician. It is self-effacing, funny, and filled with wonderful philosophical observations. It's one of the best books I've read all year.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott Woods on August 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had this impending sense of dread as I read this book. It is the dread that comes with closing in on what has been a fine read, but noticing that, with only a few chapters left, the parts you REALLY want to hear about won't get covered. True enough, Jackson gives us over 260 pages of a great musical coming-of-age story, and then chucks the years we actually know him for into about fifteen. This is intentional (see page 274, where he literally announces the end of the tome since, you know, all that stuff that you bought in the 80s and beyond that might have had cool back stories too is simply "public record").

If you want to hear some more horror stories about English cats ni bad venues with band problems, this one is certainly as entertaining (and more erduite) than the rest. But I've heard those stories. Those are Joe Jackson stories, sure, but so are the stories after 1980. I know I have a host of questions I'd ask if given the opportunity. Sadly, none of them are answered by an otherwise strong effort.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
All I can say is that you don't have to be a musician to enjoy this book. If you are a human being and dream of of pursuing a passion then read this book. Funny, moving and instructive.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Joe Jackson defined music for many fans, particularly in the 30-45 age group. We developed with him from the early pop days into more introspective, searching concepts and, ultimately, into experimentation with grander musical explorations. In this book, he drops his guard and finally invites us to share the development of his musical identity. As in his music, his searches through uncharted territory don't always work perfectly, but the results are funny, engaging, and consistently readable. Very highly recommended for anyone who has enjoyed the music.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've read the reviews thus far, you can see this book has been well received by all for it's humor, intimacy, honesty, and that fact that it's a very well written book, obviously written entirely by Joe himself. I couldn't agree more!
I would disagree with the only two negative comments I've read thus far. First, the apparent claim that Joe is being pretentious ... "The latter trait [being pretentious] is evidenced early in A Cure for Gravity, and often slows down the flow of the book, as Jackson eschews the linear autobiographical route for sometimes lengthy digressions into a form of music criticism..."
On the contrary, as Joe says himself, the book is as much or more about music and his relationship with music than simply a factual account of his life. I, for one, am as interested in this information as I am a simple blow-by-blow account of the events of his life. And as a writing style, I enjoy an occasional digression or "flash forward" which provide context and enhance points the author is trying to make.
Secondly, as for the comment that Joe "hates... Brian Eno", I suggest the reviewer reread the passage in which Joe disagrees with a single statement of Brian Eno's and makes a point of saying that there are certainly some things Brian Eno could be commended for.
What I enjoyed most about the book is getting to know much more about Joe Jackson, the person, than anything else I've ever read since it's his words, not the interpretation or opinion of others. It has answered many questions I've always had about the man, besides being good fun to read. If you think you like Joe Jackson, the man, you'll love this book!
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