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Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips Paperback – March 14, 2006


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Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips + At War With the Mystics + Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767921402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767921404
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chicago rock journalist DeRogatis (Let It Blurt) chronicles the Flaming Lips' 23-year journey from local oddities to nationally famous stars. Formed in 1983 by charismatic front man Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips have enjoyed a career boasting almost all the hallmarks of the usual indie band—except they're not an indie band. They've released nearly all their work on a major label, Warner Brothers, and are one of the few bands of the 1990s to fulfill the terms of their contract. Along the way there were many tense moments, lineup changes and struggles (for 10 years, Coyne would come off tour to work as a fry cook at Long John Silver's). More than two decades later, however, in a testament to their dedication and vision, the band has a platinum record under their belt. Luckily for them and for their fans, they drew DeRogatis, one of the nation's best newspaper music critics, as a biographer. DeRogatis handles the story soberly yet intimately, without relating the usual tales of drug-fueled rock star excess, which the band has always eschewed. Although the book lacks some flair for that reason, fans will appreciate that the Flaming Lips have avoided cliché in their lives as they have in their music. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–The Flaming Lips have been a cutting-edge rock band longer than today's teens have been alive, yet, in the last few years, they've been able to attract new young fans. They defied conventional wisdom by making their best album nearly 20 years into their career. Using interviews with most of the key players and his own experiences, music critic DeRogatis takes readers on a journey that goes around the world with the Lips, but always back to their home base of Oklahoma City. Though the author is obviously a fan, he doesn't fawn, and he allows true personalities to shine through. Singer Wayne Coyne is portrayed as a visionary, but also as a bit of a tyrant. Bassist Michael Ivins is his perfect complement–an introvert to Coyne's dynamic showman. The Flaming Lips toured relentlessly, rarely turning down gigs, and made phone calls, sent out demo tapes, and finally signed to a major label, where they outlasted countless other '80s and '90s groups that had more immediate success. Teens should find it eye-opening to learn how a band promoted itself before the Internet. Several photographs show the performers in all their incarnations, and there are even some reproductions of Coyne's early artwork. The book is well indexed, but lacks a discography. However, each album is discussed in great detail and fans will love hearing the stories behind the songs. Luckily, the original albums have been rereleased.–Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
In addition to chronicling the long and winding history of the Lips, Jim DeRo also captures the band's magic and the deep philosophy of Wayne Coyne. I had big expectations when I started this book and it lived up to them and more.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the Lips, d.i.y. touring, indie rock, the alternative boom or an interesting biography well told.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By FranQui on December 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves the inspired insanity of the Flaming Lips! I could not put this book down and read it straight through the day it arrived. It is a must-read for any Lips fans out there.
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By J. Walker on December 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Incredible and fun detail, so well organized. It is obvious now that this American band led by the great Wayne Coyne be respected and studied by musicians anywhere.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Long on December 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Staring at Sound is a pleasant little book that chronicles the career of the Flaming Lips. Many labels have been attached to the Lips in their over 20 year career but none more apparent that "hard-working band."

The book is a glossy read that really never equates to much more than a long magazine article. Maybe it is the author's background as a journalist or the simple fact that a quick internet search would dig up the articles and interviews that provided the basis for the book.

Needless to say, the writer never scratches the surface of the Flaming Lips. Their story goes beyond the cliché of sex, drugs and rock and roll, all though there is a little of that in there as well. The revolving line-up of musicians, out of control egos, the environment of alternative music in the eighties and nineties, and countless other factors could have fleshed the book out and gave it some depth.

Instead, we get a portrait of founding members Wayne Coyne as an oddly romantic and sentimental freak, the master of ceremonies and Michael Ivins as the shy guy with enormous hair and an interest n recording. The other musicians and hangers-on come and go without ever really impacting the story, apart from Stephen Drozd, whose heroin addiction and outstanding input within the band's music is treated with less emotion than a Hallmark commercial.

Therein lies the problem with this book; it is completely devoid of the passion, wistfulness, humor or any of the other hundreds of adjectives that can be used to describe the Flaming Lips music.

There is no connection with the band or any insight into much of anything. Staring at Sound shouldn't have been a book it should have been the cover story in a Rolling Stone.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven E. Silvey Jr. on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is truly an awesome book. Though, I wouldn't recommend it to the casual listener. It shares alot of background stuff that most people would find as interesting. However, if you own a few of their albums, then I would give it a try.
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