Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life is a book which has absolutely nothing to do with Rock and Roll saving anyone’s life. What interested me most about the book was the fact that the author was music critic Steve Almond, and certainly not the book’s cover which is almost as irrelevant as it’s title.
Almond spends a good deal of the book describing an archetype of a person he calls the “Drooling Fanatic”, and although three out of the four symptoms he lists for this condition apply to me personally (I’m still a DJ), I’d have to say that I’m more of a music obsessive than a drooling fanatic. In either case, we’re talking about someone who lives, breathes and eats music from a standpoint of being a non-musician and having little to no actual musical talent. That being said, I understood where Steve was coming from. I speak the authors language, but ultimately we have entirely different dialects. The thing we share in common is our worship of music.
I liked the book, but to say I would recommend it is another thing altogether. Almond’s book is far more specific than the title suggests, and sadly, I think that more than ninety five percent of the worlds population would find it pointless and annoying, with the other five percent finding it annoyingly amusing. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, but I’m obsessive about music. There were several points in the course of reading it that i had strong and thankfully controllable urges to look up Steve’s phone number and debate the finer points of something or other about music. I guess that was it’s most redeeming quality, evoking emotion that inspired a desire to debate the author and all the while reminding myself that if he kind of hates U2 he can’t be all that bad.
A more appropriate title for the book might have been “If You Are Suffering From Music Obsession And Fanaticism, You Are Not Alone”.
To put it in simpler terms, some people like to watch the show Star Trek, while others like to dress up in the costumes, go to the conventions and discuss the finer points of dilithium crystals and warp drives. Now relate this level of geekdom to music and you might better understand if this book would be something you would enjoy reading. It’s a good book; not great, but really good. It’s certainly less painful to read then Stephen Davis’s Hammer of The Gods (which even Led Zeppelin fans should avoid), but unless you’re a hardcore music fanatic who salivates for song, you probably just won’t get it. To paraphrase the author himself; If the only periods of sustained euphoria in your life have been accompanied by music, then you might relate to this book.
And as far as Almond and I speaking the same language but different dialects, that’s just a nice way of saying my taste in music in general is far superior to his. Good book though.
A better summary of the book, by the author himself