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Remain in Love Hardcover
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This book is so filled with name-dropping that it is completely frustrating. And, when I mean name-dropping, I mean things like Chris listing the names of all the cooks and wait staff that worked with him at a restaurant when he was in art school or listing every family member at his wedding with Tina in Kentucky (see example in photo). It is too much. There is even a chapter on James Brown that has nothing to do with anything other than it spotlighted the Godfather of Soul being in the Bahamas at the same time as them.
When I first started the book, the details were so specific that I kept asking myself how could he remember every name, meal, and street address from 50 years ago. It was utterly amazing but unneeded. As the book goes on, however, the details become so sparse and the most important stories are glossed over. This book represents a perfect example of atrophy in motion. It takes more than half of the book to get to the first Talking Heads album which makes you wonder how will you get through all the other big albums and tours. I read the book on a Kindle so didn't know how much was really left in the book, and, by the end (it ends at 90%), with the last chapter being so swift and full of brevity, I didn't realize it actually was the end.
This book is more of an observational piece than a story of Chris's life which is very unfortunate. He talks about the the people around him, but we want to hear about his experiences through the times of creating music and touring; he doesn't open that door for you. One of the most disappointing things in the entire book is how he never mentions one of the greatest musical projects he ever did: The Heads! He goes from being so detailed to completely skipping years and projects.
Chris at times takes swipes at people like Johnny Ramone, Brian Eno, Happy Mondays, and, of course, David Byrne, which are all probably well-deserved, but they come off as whiny when you don't have the actual story of Chris's life to counterbalance them. The book is like reading a grocery store list of facts rather than a personal memoir. Chris, at times, gives a small glance that he must have suffered from a very destructive drug habit, but it is never approached beyond brief mentions. The book suggests that Tina is also writing her own book, and, hopefully, she will take another route that allows the readers and fans the opportunity to live in her shoes rather than just listing events.
The section on the band’s early days in the Bowery was reminiscent of Gary Lachman’s great book, “New York Rocker”, highlighting the impact of CBGB on rock music worldwide. Chris Frantz focused a good deal of this book on his memories of touring with the Ramones, punctuated by Johnny Ramone’s grim view of nearly everything.
Some of the reactions to this book reminded me of the way so many people saw Talking Heads – too wholesome to be as “edgy” as they turned out. This book explains how they got there.
Any fan of the late 1970s-early 1980s punk/alternative music scene will enjoy this memoir, with its front row depictions of the Ramones, Debbie Harry, B-52s, CBGB, etc., despite the fact that it's primarily superficial with little to no analysis. I'm a longtime Talking Heads fan, and a Pittsburgher, so I was eager to learn more about the Talking Heads from fellow Pittsburgher, Frantz. But he considers himself to actually be from Kentucky, so I don't feel bad in saying he's not a true Pittsburgher. Most Pittsburghers have a degree of humility, and he does not. Granted, he is hugely successful in his chosen field, but he's quick to find fault with others while glossing over his own (his mention of his cocaine problem is parenthetical, for example).
REMAIN IN LOVE is an engaging, enjoyable read, but had the unusual effect of making me think less of the author than I had when I started the memoir. #RemainInLove #NetGalley