- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (February 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0151011486
- ISBN-13: 978-0151011483
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,923,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale Hardcover – February 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Trynin takes readers along on her wild ride up and down the cutthroat, fad-driven pop music machine—but her trip is more of a wacky nightmare than a fairy tale. In college, majoring in creative writing, she is thrilled by a band playing "loud and angry and fast." She joins a rock band, playing guitar and singing, and when the cops shut them down, she "never had so much fun." After several years trying to "get out of the Sunday-through-Wednesday-night folk/acoustic-chick-band wasteland and into the rock scene," she decides that if "something really wow isn't happening by the time I'm thirty, I'm done." And something wow does happen. With a self-styled geek-grunge makeover and a new raunchy electric guitar attitude, suddenly Trynin is being courted by entertainment lawyers, managers and major labels. She survives the exhilarating, terrifying, lonely whirlwind by starving herself, smoking, drinking and surreptitiously sleeping with her bass player. Trynin is charming: ingenuous but intelligent, whimsical but savvy. When she's dropped by the heavies as abruptly as she was discovered, it's a relief she has a steady, sensible boyfriend to settle down with, particularly since her passion for rock and roll seems to be more about youthful rebellion than music.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
It's been over a decade since Jen Trynin's first album hit the shelvesand maybe time, as well as getting her story down on paperhas healed some wounds. For all the ups and downs of her flirtation with stardom, she shows neither bitterness nor excessive self-regard. In direct, insightful prose she weaves a tale of manipulation, betrayal, and the power of fame's allure. Critics are as charmed by her debut book as they were with her first album. Let's hope, for Trynin's sake, that acclaim isn't a bad omen.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Trynin tells her story in a stream of conscious manner that puts you in the moment, and some times those moments feel surreal. Trynin imparts that with an acerbic sense of humor on the situation and her part in it. "Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be" is also very insightful into the business of the music business in the mid-1990's. From how a deal actually works, what the percentages and who gets them and how many albums an artist has to make before they make a profit (this is told in a totally relatable way and isn't boring in the least) to the personalities of those deal makers as well as the people she met on the road.
Like any good cautionary tale, it has a downside too. However, it's a double edged downside, as Cockamamie started to falter and fizzle in the charts and in the eyes of the record company, Trynin's alienation from the experience and the industry executives increased, as well as her feelings of inadequacy in not being a rock star (note: if someone asks you are you a god, you say yes!). Leaving you with the question did her music career falter because her label lost interest or because of her attitude? Although, one is left with the feeling by the coda is that Trynin was able to exercise an option no male in her place would be able to.
While the tale told in "Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock `n' Roll Fairy Tale" is almost twenty years old. The music business probably hasn't changed that much and would make it a must read for any artist wanting to follow their dreams, you should at least be fore warned of the dragons ahead. Or if you want to read a quirky look at the rock `n' roll scene, or if you were there "Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock `n' Roll Fairy Tale" is the book for you.
She wrote the book in a first person, present tense narrative that made me feel like I was right there with her. The book captured the mood and characters of the rock and roll world and Jen has a delightful sense of humor. I actually laughed out loud at several points. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Jen and her bass player. She describes settings beautifully, captures the mood of the time and writes some pretty darn good dialogue. I fell in love with Jen through this book and wish she would write another--any kind of book. How about a stab at fiction, Jen?
It's a cautionary tale of how fleeting fame can be, and that things don't always go as planned. Some readers might say Jen brought about her own professional demise by not caving in to "The Man." Is see it as her maintaining integrity at her own expense. It's a really good read from a real person!
"All I'm Cracked Up to Be" appears to follow the VH1 formula initially, but with at least one crucial difference. The book's rock and roll casualty, Jen Trynin, never becomes famous, but we get an excruciatingly intimate glimpse of the mechanics behind her tumble from promise. Trynin, a songwriter turned alt-rock frontwoman in the mid-nineties Boston music scene, is led to believe by industry wags that rock and roll stardom is at hand. Instead her hype-laden career whimpers to a halt despite major label backing.
The book humorously and heartbreakingly demonstrates the ill-effects of music commodification on an artist's sense of self. After Trynin grows tired of the "Sunday-to-Wednesday night folk/acoustic-chick-band-wasteland,"she reinvents herself as a rock star, or at least what she thinks one is. She then self-releases a brilliant CD, and a label war of epic proportions ensues. Her music industry courtship is replete with expensive dinners and first class accommodations, as well as dizzying dialog between Trynin and her lawyer over the financial intricacies of dueling record contracts. Soon a seemingly sweetheart deal from Warner leads to a grueling tour schedule dotted by the monotony of ratty motels, interviews with clueless DJs, and awkward label meet and greets, in stark contrast to the amenities and coddling of the sycophantic bidding period. It is also at odds with her fantasy of life on the road with a surrogate band family.
Trynin becomes disembodied and suffers an identity crisis epitomized by a fight with her bass player over a bowl of nuts and an Alice in Wonderland reaction to too much nyquil while at a hotel where coincidentally, catatonic Beach Boy Brian Wilson is also staying. The label realizes she is "losing it" when she marks a DJ's face with a sharpie. Meanwhile, her hit song begins its descent down the charts before the end of her first tour. Despite releasing a second album to critical acclaim, if not commercial success, she is forced by her label to endure the indignity of performing as an acoustic opener to a insufferable self-righteous lilith fair singer songwriter who just happens to have a hit at the time. Trynin's star doesn't rise according to the record company's timetable and corporate politics shift the engine's attention away from her. Trynin is thus callously cast aside as a "has-been who never was," with strains of Alanis Morisette playing in the background.
Trynin doesn't deny having a hand in her own demise in that she engages in a self-destructive, sexually-charged relationship with her juvenile bass player, reverts to a curt New Jersey demeanor in situations requiring graciousness, and drinks too much on the road. However, her alienation is exacerbated by being a cog in a music industry machine manned by ego-damaging hipsters such as the makeup artist who calls attention to the bags under her eyes and the Warner employee who cautions her not to make faces when she plays guitar. The entities that stand to make money off her don't appear to genuinely care about her or "get" her music. They only see an image of alt-rock heroin chic and hear a cash register. In fact, label honchos stay at the best hotels, on the artist's budget, while their benefactors are shuttled to Motel 6's. Trynin, the talented yet insecure head case, is their perfect pawn until she starts to be "difficult".
Trynin's creative drive is destroyed but she winds up pursuing a life not possible while touring: she goes back to school, marries and has a child. She misses the dream but not the reality of the music business. I didn't sense that she wrote the book to generate pity, but to provide insight into what went wrong with her career and perhaps serve as a caution to those who have their sights on the big time. I knew the book would not end well, but was gripped to the end to learn the how and why. Yet Tryinin does not maliciously point fingers, but instead provides a wryly humorous, yet terrifying view of what can happen when a promising artist surrenders control for career advancement and get sucked in an exploitive whirlwind. I highly recommend this book to any musician kicking themselves because they failed to get signed. You are probably lucky you didn't get what you wished for.