Article published on January 22, 2016.
Search this site with the name Seward, Reg Seward and you will find a growing number of BookChap reviews most of them of a military slant so when we asked him to profile himself we saw another side of the man.
I am not one to really indulge in so called ‘Celebrity’ culture. I understand nothing at all of why I should go into raptures when a particular person reveals themselves to our gaze, unless, this person has done something worthwhile with their lives.
I enjoy a many varied diet of biographical books on the assumption that the relevant person has made a noticeable difference to our society; usually over the course of many years, not simply just a person who is famous for being famous; as so many are these days. Charity shop bookshelves are groaning under the weight of five minute wonders who, unfortunately felt it necessary to compile their life stories, even if they are only 20 years old or thereabouts. The more tedious ones are the rags to riches, or ‘my hell with drug and alcohol addiction’ etc, ad nauseum.
So may I introduce you to three of the books that appealed to me recently? The protagonists themselves supposedly wrote each book, yet they are popular musicians, and have been alongside me for years as I have grown into an adult. Although of a similar age to myself, they went their way of course, and I went mine. Their hard luck is that they cannot read about my life like we can about theirs.
The first one is entitled simply Ronnie, the life story of Ronnie Wood, written by himself and published in 2007, ISBN: 978-0-230-70131-1. I have no solid reason to have read this other than I enjoy his way of playing slide guitar but, over the course of time, his varied experiences, guises and personality have become enshrined in the public consciousness. He is a revered artist, a musical composer, rock legend and a strange person indeed.
This book has his entire life effectively mapped out in chronological order. Many eyebrows are raised as you read what he has got up to, not just the drink and drugs, but a more in depth self-examination. I found it both riveting and intriguing. I recommend it to readers of the genre.
The second book is Life by Keith Richards, ISBN: 978-0-297854395, (2010). Again the man is a master musician, not classically trained; but a real ‘feeling’ person who has been fed a steady diet of ‘blues and rock and roll’ for most of his life. The stories regarding his prolific use of narcotics and drink are all here. A telling account of his relationships, his zest for life, his roller coaster decades ambling around the globe, guitar in hand and making music that has gone down in history.
Thirdly, we have the venerable Pete Townshend. Who I Am, ISBN: 978-0-00-746603-0 tells of his life composing hit after hit for The Who, again over many decades. His life has been that of a rebellious person kicking back at authority, getting into all kinds of bother as a result. His famous stage antics, his outspokenness about all manner of things that matter to him, probably because of the way life itself has moulded him. A very insular man who just needs to do his own thing to the dismay of a lot of other people. As a result of pleasure in his own company, we can enjoy all the hit records pouring out of him.
At some 500 pages this book makes very good reading and, he still has a burgeoning solo career alongside The Who concerts every now and then. Excellent stuff.
Maybe I have inspired you to give these ‘greats’ a look sometime. I have a lot of this type of book, many film actors and actresses, musicians both classical and popular. They all have, or have had a life that is their own story, sometimes fascinating, sometimes a trifle laboured, but the books try to speak for them.They hopefully bring you closer to these people who have hopefully made a substantial difference somehow. Not vaguely being a frivolous waste of space, seeking out an easy pound or two from the gullible.
nudge List Jan 2016: Back to the Future: Gull by Glenn Patterson
The New Woman by Charity Norman
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