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My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor Hardcover – August 30, 2016
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I came late to Southern California and its Punk Rock scene, but after reading Keith Morris's memoir, feel I was there from the start. My Damage is like Neal Cassady's The First Third read aloud by William Burroughs for his private enjoyment: clear and unapologetic as a bell, fast as you can go, a rolling dumpster on fire, and a treasure trove for any student of West Coast Punk history. Lonely, funny, brave, tragic, anonymous, and famous all at once, until the moon disappears and everything goes to sleep. And wakes up again to dream a new song.”Viggo Mortensen
Kill your idols, please. Check that tired rock star shit at the door. Keith Morris is nothing less than a living, breathing symbol. He's a snot-voiced, Southern California archetype and prototype, an influential fuckup whose ripple effect in punk has been felt every single day since he spat out, I'm about to have a nervous breakdown' in 1979. Without My Damage's middle-finger-shaped piece snapped into place, no history of L.A.'s punk rock puzzle is complete.”Todd Taylor, Razorcake
"Keith Morris is a human firecracker. You can literally hear his leg kicking under the table as you rip through the pages. If his life were the bars, these words are the file hidden in the cake. He is as truthful as funny, and if you don't read this book you might as well join an REO Speedwagon cover band.”Ryan Adams
Keith Morris, survivor of bouncers and blacklisters, thrown down the stairs yet still standing tall, damaged, patched up, last laugher of all, this is the punk rock story I've always wanted to hear.”Exene Cervenka of X
"In My Damage, Keith Morris lets loose with a shotgun blast of funny, often harrowing vignettes/opinions in every chapter, chronicling growing up in Los Angeles' South Bay and the evolution of not just Southern California punk (and his part), but rock music in general, from the late 1960s up to the present. I found it so readable I finished half the book in one night's sitting."Chris D., author, singer/songwriter of the bands The Flesh Eaters and Divine Horsemen, and in-house producer at Slash/Ruby Records (19801984)
Even though Keith was so wasted most of the time, that nebb'd up surfer who lived on The Strand made me want to be a punk singer.”Greg Graffin of Bad Religion
Publishers Weekly, 8/15/16
[An] engaging autobiography Morris puts the reader in the passenger seat as he details the wild and woolly early days of punk rock with plenty of debauchery and hijinks accompanied by police brutality and rampant drug use Fans of punk rock will get the most out of the book, and those interested in the music industry in general will also appreciate Morris' candor as he details the machinations and manipulations he's encountered over the yearsup to the present day, as he's still recording and touringin this roller coaster of a book.”
LA Weekly, 8/26/16
An illuminating read The droll wisecracks and unexpected detours almost make it feel as though Morris is sitting next to you on the couch, telling his story to you himself.”
The A.V. Club, 8/29/16
A winning memoir from a punk icon.”
A portrait of a famed frontman that is complex but earnest.”
Record Collector, October 2016
The trials and tribulations of a 70s fishing shop employee who goes on to front two of America's greatest punk banks delivered via his astute observations on life and with an extra healthy dose of wit.”
"An insightful and expansive look at an unconventional life."?Men's Journal, 10/27/1
"A wild tell-all told in a no-holds-barred style, My Damage is an epic autobiography told with humor, honesty, and courage."
?The Good Men Project, 11/15/16
"Morris' book benefits from the same energetic, frenetically authentic style that makes his music so memorable. His description of the early punk scene and the inception of his two most famous bands is a fascinating read."?Under the Radar, 11/18/16
"[My Damage] delivers the behind-the-scenes kind of stuff we all love reading in rock autobiographies."
About the Author
Keith Morris is a cofounding member of Black Flag, the most recognizable name in West Coast punk, and the Circle Jerks, which cemented his reputation at the forefront of hardcore vocalists. He has recorded over fifteen albums, appeared on countless albums and compilations, and has a half-dozen film credits to his name. The intensity of the music produced by his latest bands OFF! and FLAG are equal to his best work from the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and add to a legendary career that is still being carved out one gig at a time.
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The first thing you need to know about Keith is that first and foremost he loves music and that his passion for music led him to see Bowie, Iggy Pop and others at their creative peaks. His name-dropping at the beginning of the book let’s you know he is as much of a fan as he is a bonafide punk rock persona.
I was most interested in his re-telling of his involvement of the later Masque days and the beginnings Black Flag in Hermosa Beach. There are moments where Jim Ruthland, Morris’ semi-Ghost writer really captures that era of Hermosa Beach. To really take in the landscape of Hermosa Beach I would suggest Spot’s photo book, “Sounds of Two Eyes Opening” that features HB and early Black Flag to really take it in.
The biggest fault of the book is that Morris only briefly touches on what the early 80’s LA punk/hardcore scene was like and doesn't talk enough about his his relationship to its players. Instead he decides to go the predictable route of his fall into drinking, cocaine abuse and why the Circle Jerks never got it together. While many of the stories are entertaining and rightly solidify Morris as the true author of the historically contested song “Wasted”, the truth is, I wanted to read more about the early 80’s punk scene and Morris’ musings on his relationship with the players (well known or not) and less of his using stories (as entertaining as they are).
The book looses steam when Morris recounts his involvement in the Hollywood scene of the 90’s and his relationship with the Hangmen, Inger Lorre and the Nymphs and his bands outside of the Circle Jerks namely Bug Lamp and Midget Handjob.
If you’re a fan your like me, you already bought the book. However, I can’t help but think Morris missed an opportunity to go a little deeper and tell a few more stories about the early 80’s punk rock scene and its players for those of us that weren’t there.
Make it a great day!