Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reader's Diary #900- Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman: No One Here Gets Out Alive


I'm a huge reader and a huge music nut, so you'd figure I'd combine my loves more often than I do. Meanwhile the only music biographies/ autobiographies I've read are of Fleetwood Mac, Grace Slick, the Clash, Stompin' Tom, Madonna,  Bono, and now Jim Morrison. I remembered seeing it once topping a list of best rock biographies and so I had it built up. Today though when I Googled "best rock biographies" it only seemed to show up in the occasional list, and never in the top slot. And though such lists are arbitrary, after reading it for myself, I'd say its reputation is about right. Of all such books that I've read, it's the best of the lot. But there's certainly room for improvement.

I feel the need to clarify here: I was never a huge Doors fan. I liked a lot of their music, I enjoyed the Oliver Stone movie, and I even went to his grave in Paris. But I've met and hung out with Doors fans. They seem to feel the need to emulate him. Me, not so much. Still, it would be hard to deny the fact that he was interesting character, whether you thought is was a artsy poser or the real deal. And in that regard, The No One Here Gets Out Alive book is also interesting. Compelling. This despite the fact the substance abusing rock star story has been told umpteen times, before and after Morrison came and went.

Why compelling? Perhaps it's because of what's not said. Not far into the book, I began to be impressed with the research gone into it. They even had former university profs recalling Jim and his assignments. That method triggered a lot of personal reflection. Who would biographers have to talk to to find out about the real me? Certainly my university professors wouldn't offer much insight. Even the few that still vaguely remember me. Even my university friends. Even my current friends. I mean, there'd be a pretty interesting composite picture, but it got me questioning the proverbial masks that we all wear. How much we keep hidden, how much we share. How often we change said masks. For the record, I think longtime readers of my blog have some sense of me as a person, but I'm scant on the facts of my life. Then, there are others, extended family for instance, that can probably tell you the facts, but don't know what I'm all about. I guess neither version is necessarily false, but no one's version of me is identical to my version of me, and theoretically, I'm as wrong as the rest of you. Deep, eh?

Likewise, I'm still not sure if I know who Jim Morrison is. He is said to be loyal to his fellow Doors (vehemently resisting when anyone tried to turn the spotlight on him), and yet, he either wasn't close to them or the authors failed to show it. Sure they had artistic chemistry on stage, improvising and feeding on one another's energy, but they didn't seem to associate much outside the band. He was an ass to women, but for better or worse managed to find a life partner of sorts with Pamela Courson. He clearly wanted something, but what that was is a little hazy. To be truly appreciated for his art? To die? To experiment on the world? I got out of the book alive, but I'm still not sure how.

What good music biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs have you read? Any you'd like to? 

Play the game.


1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Patti Smith's Just Kids is the best musical memoir I have ever read. And I have read lots of them. It's a beautiful book that makes me want to create.