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Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us Hardcover – April 13, 2010

29 customer reviews

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Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals by Dinty W. Moore
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The goofiness and magnetism of rock is celebrated in this exuberant memoir. Rock critic and memoirist Almond (Candyfreak) describes himself as a drooling fanatic of rock and roll with a morbid passion for obscure bands, arcane record collections, and proselytizing his musical tastes. This freewheeling mix tape recounts the central role music played in his relationships, sexual encounters, and life transitions, while sprinkling in idiosyncratic lists, from Rock's Biggest Assholes to Silly Names of Rock Star Spawn, and tragicomic exegeses of songs great and terrible. His rock-critic gig enables his obsessions, giving him cover to profile, hang with, and otherwise stalk rockers while gazing into the bleak underside of their lives, the desolation in which... art continues to bloom. Almond deftly straddles the line between intellectual and fan. He's canny about the ways rock stars manipulate their idolators, yet happy to be seduced by them. He veers smoothly between funny, cruel takedowns of rock fatuity while registering its emotional impact (the song I Bless the Rains Down in Africa may be the lovechild of Muzak and imperialism, but you can't help sort of digging it). Almond's snarky, swoony counterpoint makes for a hilarious riff on the power of music. (Apr. 13)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Almond makes clear from the start that he’s no rock star, just a guy who obsesses over music he can’t play. Dreams of rock stardom danced in his adolescent head, but he soon realized, watching Springsteen’s 1975 concert film at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, that he’d never make it and better get used to it. So he and like-minded friends became “Drooling Fanatics”—“the sort of guys and dolls who walk around with songs ringing in our ears at all hours.” If you’ve read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (1995) or seen the movie, you know the type. Almond fills the book with gratuitous lists (e.g., of bands shamelessly overexposed by the “alternative” press) and the neurotic urge to overshare personal details. It isn’t enough that he’s an obsessive listener. He needs others to like what he likes. Among the many pleasures his rants afford are his deconstructions of bad pop songs (e.g., Toto’s “Africa” and Air Supply’s “All Out of Love”), but really, dipping into his ramblings at virtually any point quickly becomes addictive, impertinent fun. His hilarious musings seem to contain elements of both Hornby and David Sedaris, but he’s truly a character of his own idiosyncratic making. --June Sawyers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066209
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Apparently all my contemporaries are writing right now. I just found out, for example, that Carrie Bradshaw (and, one assumes, Candace Bushnell) is/are just about exactly my age. In her book "The Carrie Diaries," she references Jimmy Carter and the Gremlin.

But Carrie Bradshaw listens to Aztec Two-Step, and right then and there I knew she could never be my friend.

Steve Almond knows what I'm saying here. Steve Almond gave up on a woman after a weekend of bananas sex because she listened to Air Supply - on purpose.

I know that Steve Almond is also just exactly my age, because HE references Aztec Camera, whose song "Oblivious" remains one of the most incandescent pop songs I know. It's got that androgynous 80's croon but on top of friendly, jangly guitars - and then you notice the line, "I see you crying and I want to kill your friends" and you start paying a little more attention.*

And that makes Steve Almond and I the same age because Aztec Camera was not together for terribly long, had one or two little MTV hits, and is one of the VERY few acts of that era who have not regrouped and gone on tour. Presumably, groups like The Jesus and Mary Chain, who were so charming to begin with**, have realized in their maturity that the world NEEDS their music, and they have a DUTY to provide it. One doesn't like to assume that they are back together, rather, because the tattered college students who liked them in 1983 now have the cash to fly to Iceland to see them play.***

Steve Almond's new book, in case you had not intuited this, is footnoted and rambling and studded - no, packed - with pithy little insights, analyses, and summations of bands and artists.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Voice of Chunk on May 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, I'll state the obvious and say that ROCK AND ROLL WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is a must-read for serious music fans (aka Drooling Fanatics) everywhere. With his trademark blend of self-deprecating humor and razor-sharp intelligence, Almond celebrates the famous (Springsteen, The Police), the, um, infamous (Styx), and the criminal-that-they're-not-more-famous (Ike Reilly, Chuck Prophet, Dan Bern, Bruce McCutcheon, Nil Lara, Dayna Kurtz, Bob Schneider, Gil Scott-Heron, etc. etc.).

But just as a good movie is more than its soundtrack, this book is more than the musicians it praises. In the end, Almond's a passionate, honest storyteller who uses music to explore deeper truths about love, family, friendship, loneliness, disappointment, joy, ambition, and human connection. The sections about courting his now-wife Erin, trying in vain to influence his children's musical tastes, and roadtripping with friend The Close are particularly moving. In short, this book is for anyone who turns to the written word to feel more alive.

Some reviewers are calling ROCK AND ROLL WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE a nonfiction version of Nick Hornby's HIGH FIDELITY, and I guess the comparison sort of works on a few surface levels: It's true that HF's fictional Rob and R&RWSYL's nonfictional Steve both have massive music collections. Both Rob & Steve use music to help define pivotal life experiences. And both compulsively compile mix tapes/CDs to express their feelings to and make connections with others. After that, the connection's pretty thin. A more apt comparison is Hornby's lesser-known essay collection SONGBOOK, which explores his obsessions and life experiences more directly than anything else he's published. As a result, it's Hornby's most soulful, personal book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Krysta Ficca on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Steve Almond's portrayal as a music loving (Drooling) fanatic (who he really is deep down) hidden under the guise of a writer, is well written and funny. A relatable telling for those of us who adore music, who stop when a good song comes on, interrupting conversations so we might hear the words--words that have deep, profound meaning to us. Steve shows the Drooling Fanatic as the insecure, stalker-type geek that resonates with anyone who has waited for hours after a concert just to meet the band at their hotel, or who have made playlists for their friends, family and lovers. The wonderful moments in this book for me are when Steve meets his idols, the stars that he drools for, and what he learns throughout this process with each of them. A great read for anyone who loves music.
And, even though I only knew one artist on the soundtrack - I am now a fan of them all!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Cavalli on May 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm 3/4 through the book, and so thoroughly enjoying it. Last night, after reading the Ike Reilly section, I linked to the Bitchin' Soundtrack and played Commie Drives a Nova and practically hurled with joy. All day at work today I was marinating in my DF-ness and couldn't wait to come home to download Salesmen and Racists. I developed a crush on the music and it's all your fault Steve! Drooling shrieks of gratitude!

I'm an older female DF with a 10 year old daughter who's been studying electric guitar for 2 years, as I model true DF behavior. This book was written for all of us non-musician rockers who will likely never outgrow our fanaticism.
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