- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; 20th Anniversary edition (August 9, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802125360
- ISBN-13: 978-0802125361
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 292 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Paperback – August 9, 2016
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About the Author
Gillian McCain is the author of two books of poetry. Legs and Gillian’s most recent book is Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose, and they are currently at work on a new book about the California music and counterculture scenes of the 1960s.
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Gets rather gossipy after a while, which I really don't care about what some prostitute/groupie thinks about some punk rocker/junkie guy she blew in the bathroom after he shot her up with some crap heroin, you know?
Definitely has lots of insight about the personal lives of those covered but it becomes labored with overdose story after overdose story to the point that it just makes your skin crawl. The punk movement would not have happened after the AIDS epidemic.
In the end everyone in the book says the same thing, "I couldn't believe it when I heard so-and-so died but I saw it coming".
The sheen of the glamours rock & roll lifestyle is certainly peeled away and the disgusting underbelly is exposed in this street view of what was happening in the mid 70's in the USA and Europe.
About a dozen bands are covered in this book, so it really is kind of narrow in it's focus but what is discussed is thorough. Very thorough.
Please Kill Me is not meant to be uplifting. It's a book about a bunch of mostly messed-up, at best semi-stable people of limited talent, who nonetheless came together to create something great. It's the story of those people, not the specific chords they played or the amplifiers they used. It's unusual in that it goes into great depth explaining the genesis of punk; this book makes it clear that the foundation was laid long before the Ramones ever played a note.
It's also a fantastic read. I started reading it on a cross-country flight and stayed up all night finishing it. It's especially compelling when you contrast it with the sanitized, glorified shopping mall that now calls itself New York City.
I wrote this review after seeing too many denigrate the book because it presented a different picture of the people and the music than they expected. This guy was right in the middle of it all, and earned his knowledge through personal experience. There are only a few other people who can match his depth of understanding on this topic, or his passion for it.
In New York, and some in Detroit and London. Bit of California. Mostly Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and the Ramones and the Dead Boys and Blondie.
And the club kids and the hangers-on, the club owners and the drug dealers.
Everyone who doesn’t die gets old.
It is sad.
It is beautiful.
It ends, like everything, too soon.
The book is entirely made up of interviews from everyone who could possibly have anything to say about the seedy history of Punk music. There is no descriptive content other than these interviews which are carefully and cleverly woven together to provide a dynamic timeline of this ugly step child sub-genre of rock and roll. Everyone is interviewed, from musicians to producers to journalists to drug dealers to drag queens to groupies. This complete cast of characters from both sides of the Atlantic creates a narrative so seedy that sometimes you feel you have to bathe after reading it.
And that is as it should be because the story in its decadence is completely mesmerizing.
Everybody is here, The New York Dolls, MC5, The Dictators, The Dead Boys, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and that only gets you half way through the book. I am also happy to report that as a huge fan I was gratified to learn that the number one degenerate from which all Punk sprang (or, more appropriately, seeped) is the king himself, Mr. Iggy Pop; a man pretty much at the center of this descent into musical madness.
For me this is the definitive story, and by far the best overview, of the insane world of Punk music I've ever read.
This book is nothing but that stuff.
Tales of living hard and wild and irresponsibly. Sad and squalid at times, laugh-out-loud funny at others, The dirt is dished by people who were maling the scene. The Velvets, The Stooges, Warhol, Jim Morrison, Nico, MC5, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Television, David Bowie, The Ramones, Blondie, Jim Carroll, Sid and Nancy, and more.... a lot of rock mythology has been built up around these people, but this book is not afraid of bursting the bubble over and over again. If punk meant anything it meant not giving a sh-- what other people think, an attitude which is displayed on every single page in "Please Kill Me". No analysis, no legend-building, just the crazy tales of a crazy time.