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Off the shelf @ your local library - Biography season


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  Biography season is here! I know it’s odd to think of a literary genre as a seasonal thing, but late November and early December – just in time for gift-giving - are peak times for publishers to roll out celebrity bios. This year the trend seems to be narrowing to musician biographies and autobiographies. Here is what’s new on the shelves at Henry County Public Libraries:

  Rod by Rod Stewart. Critics have summarized this as a likeable effort by a likeable guy. Stewart shares anecdotes from his glory days, but no big shockers. There are a few minor revelations, including the secret of his famously spiky hair, the story behind the lyrics of his hit song “Maggie May,” and his passion for model railroads. He counts making the cover of Model Railroader magazine as a bigger thrill than landing on the cover of Rolling Stone.

  Bruce by Peter Carlin. This is the authorized biography of Bruce Springsteen, which means Carlin had unrestricted access to the singer’s friends, family, and bandmates. The result is a detailed look at his rise from a blue-collar neighborhood to superstardom, while he battled depression, avoided the traps of drugs and alcohol, and developed a reputation as a demanding, hardworking and painstaking musician.

  If Bruce and Rod seem like uninspired names for biographies, this next one makes up for it. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road is Willie Nelson’s newest autobiography. His earlier works include The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes (2001), The Tao of Willie (2006), and A Tale Out of Luck (2008). In the same style as its predecessors, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me is less straight autobiography and more a collection of musings and recollections from his career. Nelson’s laid-back storytelling style and surprisingly sharp sense of humor will appeal to fans new and old.

  Also vying for best title is Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream. Young recounts his life and career, including his passions for music, environmentalism, and all things technological. He doesn’t dig too deeply into any one topic, but skips around, sharing minor revelations in a meandering style.  Biggest surprise: Rod Stewart isn’t the only musician obsessed with model trains. Young’s fascination extended to buying a stake in the Lionel train company.

  Finally, we have a candid and entertaining memoir by Pete Townshend, Who I Am: a Memoir. Townshend recalls his early life and influences, and his career as principal songwriter, guitarist and brains behind legendary British rock band The Who. Townshend spent ten years writing his story, without the aid of a ghostwriter. Fans looking for insight into his creative process will be let down, but he is frank about his successes and mistakes, his relationships with his bandmates, and the tolls of stardom, alcohol and overwork on his personal life.

  All titles are available at Henry County public libraries; check with your nearest branch for availability. Check one out for yourself, or buy one as a gift for anyone who is a fan of these remarkable and influential musicians.



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