Rock ‘n’ roll bios

Having gotten through the sublime and voluminous The Beatles, it seemed only fair to give equal time to a group that I’ve never really given equal time to, and I’ve tucked into Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. Other than having a title longer than most Beach Boys’ albums, and suffering from some of the omniscience that somehow Bob Spitz avoided in his work on The Beatles, it’s a pretty good read. Turns out the Boys, all of them, were a bit of a mess. Brian was just the biggest mess. And if it suffers from a certain speed in the early parts (by page 30 or so, they’ve already released a record — the backstory is a tad slim) and there’s some chronological jumpiness that’s probably unavoidable in a good narrative, it paints a compelling, believable picture of a guy with some serious head problems. I had never really known how the Beach Boys had come to separate their studio formation from their road formation, and this paints the clearest picture ever of Charlie Manson’s scary little tangent to the group. Would I buy it? No, but that’s what libraries are for.

In pulling up that Amazon link for the book, I tripped across a book I’d never heard of but may have to wade through just for the title: Hotel California: The True-life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends. Reminds me of the old Flo & Eddie impression of Joni Mitchell: “I’ve had Stephen and Graham and Neil and Jackson, and the Eagles, too! How ’bout you?”

And trying to get that lyric right led me to what every Joni-obsessed fan would need: a listing of songs mentioning Joni. And, no, they didn’t miss Blotto’s “We Are The Nowtones.” Now, that’s completeness.

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