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What's Welsh for Zen: The Autobiography of John Cale Paperback – February 19, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582340684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582340685
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.9 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Cale's story is remarkable and unmatched in rock history." -- Melody Maker

"Painfully illuminating reading...Beautifully written and imaginatively designed." -- Wired

About the Author

John Cale has led an extraordinary, often hilarious life at the cutting edge. A volatile personality, an innovative thinker and an expressive storyteller, he has wrestled with drugs, alcohol, and fame, yet is now at the peak of health and artistic achievement. He lives in New York City.

Victor Bockris, a veteran chronicler of the Beats and the Factory, has worked closely with Cale to produce what will undoubtedly become one of the most vivid and revealing insights into the heart of the rock world.

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
Great stories, and nice pictures.
B. M. Vos
The content as well as the graphic presentation are beautiful.
epsteinsmutha
He has a great deal of range stylistic.
David Leikam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kent Rees on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great read. John Cale has long been an underappreciated genius, and hopefully this book will amend that somewhat. The ancedotal nature is facinating, particularly the insight into how John developed his unique sound which he then applied to the Velvets.
But what impressed me the most was his personal candor and his willingness to treat his own life as an ongoing work in progress. He makes grandiose statements about the nature of his art, yes, but has the scars to back them up.
The layout of the book shows the same willingness to explore; it reminded me of a great Graphic Novel from the minds of Marvel Comics, starring the honest, misunderstood champion of Cale versus the flamboyant, angry, aggressive dark lord, Louis Reed.
Read this book, and know that the reason the Velvets became one of the most influential bands of all time is that they made Art that was greater than the sum of it's parts, for better or worse...and what wisdom that granted Cale is still being unraveled today.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a Velvet Underground fan, as well as a huge fan of John Cale's solo work, I found this book to be an extraordinary read. The stories that he tells are fantastic, many of them nearly unbelievable. The stories behind some of my favorite songs were interesting, but I think that Mr. Cale has lead an interesting enough life, that even a non-fan would be intruiged. My only complaint is that it is brutally obvious that certain sections were written by Bockris (and poorly edited) because there are glaring errors (for example, the text refers to a title track on the album <i>Slow Dazzle</i>, which did not have a title track, and the back blurb--in the British version anyway--refers to Cale as a violinist, while any Cale fan can tell you plays the viola, not the violin).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. Neill Jameson on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
After finishing this book in the wee hours of this morning I've come to the conclusion that Cale must be appreciated for his solitary genius in the fields of art and expression but also must be taken with a grain of salt. The entire book seems to be a thinly veiled attack at Lou Reed whom Cale seems overwhelmingly jealous of (thou others would tend to disgree) Plus it shows him as a very difficult individual to get along with (ie his many wives, his broken colaborative relationships with Reed and Brian Eno) I also found it amusing how he brought it other commentators only to attack Reed and make Cale out to be a saint. Overall this is a very well written book filled with sardonic wit and dry humor with an excellent view into the VU, The Factory days, and the progression of one man's struggles through himself and art. Cale is not blameless in his trangressions but I think he sees this...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I devoured this book about my top music hero and pronounce it good! It's not perfect though, I would have liked more background on some of the albums (people involved in the recording, events etc) especially his work with e.g. Nick Drake, and the editing is really sloppy: in one place early in the text, the title of a newspaper has just been left out, and Cale's collaboration with Bob Neuwerth is called Last NIGHT On Earth (it is DAY). It provides valuable insights into his personal life and artistic development, and early reflections on Andy Warhol and The Factory. Great photographs and illustrations too make for a very pleasing design. Certainly worthy of the man and his achievements.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By epsteinsmutha on April 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is important to remember that there were four people in the Velvet Underground and only one of them was named Lou Reed. Though Lou has gone on to a waxing/waning career as homo heroin hipster in the thirty-odd years since their demise, the other three (Mo (best drummer on Earth) Tucker, Dr. Sterling Morrison (RIP), and John Cale) are just as relevant if not moreso. One might argue Lou hasn't done anything as great without them since the VU's demise.

Here we have the autobiography of uber producer (Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, The Stooges)/VU bassist/viola/singer John Cale written with NY scenester whore Victor Bockris (who wrote similar pieces on the VU with Gerard Malanga and on Patti Smith with Roberta Bayley). The time with the Velvets is here, as is his solo period, marriages and divorces, early childhood and history as a musician, in a book that runs the range of emotions not expected by someone approaching Cale with the reductionist mentality of "The dark other guy in the Velvets that wasn't Lou," which sadly, lots of people do approach him with.

This book screams for a "read by Cale" audio version as anyone who has listened to/seen footage of Cale interviews knows, the man has a hypnotic Welsh lilt to his voice.

Buy it, read it, find out more about one of the best bands of the latter part of the last century and one of the best musicians to come out of it. You won't be disappointed. The content as well as the graphic presentation are beautiful.

Signed,

epsteinsmutha
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