Another three bite the dust

Over the last week I’ve been able to transfer three books from my “Reading Now” list to this year’s list of books read.

rock bottomRock Bottom (Inspired by God), by Michael Teter is only a short book, but it took me a long time to get through it. I read about half of it some time ago but didn’t get back to read the rest for several weeks. The book is a testimony of how Teter’s life was dramatically changed by an encounter with God while serving a prison sentence. It comes across as an honest and heartfelt, no-frills story that would have benefitted from some basic editing for spelling and grammar. The technical shortcomings in the writing made the book more difficult for me to get through, but maybe its lack of literary polish added to the authenticity of the book .

tina arenaNow I can Dance is Tina Arena’s autobiography. Starting her career as a child star on the once popular Australian variety show Young Talent Time, Tina Arena has been one of Australia’s most successful singers, both at “home” and also overseas. Until very recently I gave no attention at all to Arena’s music, but for some reason that changed a couple of months ago.

She’s an artist I’ve admired in the past after hearing her sing live at two separate record store promotions. I’d never before witnessed a singer putting so much emotion and power into a performance of a song. But she didn’t sing the kind of songs I liked at the time. Now it seems my musical tastes have broadened.

While she is 10 years younger than myself, the fact that her singing career started at such a young age, a lot of the book covers times that are familiar to me, from the 1970s through to the present day and I found a lot of personal memories being stirred as well as learning something about the background of Arena’s life and music.

electric edenThe last of the three was Electric Eden by Rob Young. I bought this book because it seemed to be about a history of British folk music, starting in the late 19th- early 20th centuries when a systematic collecting of folk music and songs began, through to the beginning of the 21st century. While there was a continuing thread of that historical journey, Young was more interested in the reflection of the “spiritual psyche” of the British, as portrayed through the music and perceived by the author who seemed to lean favourably to a new age/pagan/ Gnosticism.

9 thoughts on “Another three bite the dust

  1. Your descriptions of the other two books are interesting; the third description seemed a bit cut short for the subject matter (or, I wanted to know more). Is that because you were disappointed with what got covered, the actual content? I guess that’s obvious when I look back at it again. While I wouldn’t want to be encouraged about new age or pagan music, I’m curious as to that topic/book — as in possibly interested in reading it (for what you were initially drawn to). I can sure see the interest in the second book too, and recognize what you conveyed about changing (and/or broadening) musical tastes. But I’d have less interest in that book since I don’t know of the artist (even if I’d benefit by hearing her and still may). Anyway, a running conversation with one of my sons is how much music, that we like, comes from Great Britain (and possibly The Republic of Ireland). I apologize if this offends anyone: he says (over-generalizing) anyone [meaning, however, a person from the group called men] from Europe is gay even if they aren’t gay. [What he’s referring to — mannerisms and speech patterns — probably applies to a lot of Arabs and Africans too, and maybe people from India as well.] He’s a bit of a jokester though, yet he’s somewhat serious on this. So, I’ve been pointing out when people from Europe aren’t American. Now I’m being a jokester, but it’s true. So, for instance, last night and tonight we were looking at bits of a concert DVD of Mumford and Sons at Red Rock. Last night, this recording just having been torn out of its packaging and my son being home from college for the weekend and this music going and seeming like something he’d like, I said, “They’re not American.”

    “What?” he asked, thinking he had misheard me. “Lies,” he says (as we’ve been through this with other favorites — like Muse, not having seen their latest music video single… yikes). “No, no.” There are still a few from here, but we do see that probably the majority of artists we like are not from the United States. On the previous weekend, he was like, “Name three right now.” And I did (all surprising to him). Yes was among them, and Peter Gabriel (both of which are music he’s heard a lot but that I don’t think he has and plays). “Say it isn’t so!”

    Besides that, though (and I’m mostly referring to older Yes), here we are referencing a new age (or something odd) kind. And I’ll spare him seeing the very old videos of Peter Gabriel with Genesis.

    1. I was drawn to that third book because I’ve had a long interest in English folk music and have a collection of traditional British music. I saw that the book had references to a lot of musicians I was familiar with, not only those performing traditional music, but some who were influenced by it; popular singers I’d followed in the past.

      But after a while I started to see that the author had an agenda that took the book away from the more straight forward history I’d hoped for.
      That agenda may very well be a much more valid portrayal of the music than I’d realised. Maybe that music has been steeped in “pagan” influences all along. (I recognise many songs are – addressing fertility cycles or tales of contact with “otherworldly” creatures.) But a lot of the author’s ideas were based on a revived popularity of folk music in the 1960s, where the music became useful for all kinds of “spiritual” experiments, mixing eastern influences that were becoming increasingly influential, with British traditional elements, creating a psychedelic syncretism of instruments, styles and philosophies, often fuelled by experiments with drugs.

      I got the impression that the author saw there was no “authentic” musical tradition, but instead was a “folk” music no less manufactured than a lot of the “pagan” practices that were also becoming popular in the 1960s.
      I found it was a hard book to get through. It took me about three months to get to the end, probably driven by stubbornness more than continued interest.

  2. Quick note. With the author being favorable to pagan or new age or whatever leanings, I would nevertheless not be pushed toward these kinds of thoughts. So, was the history itself really crowded out or obscured or warped away from what seems real?

  3. I loved reading Tina’s book. If I read between the lines I’d have to say she’s typically a melancholic who awakes in delivering live music. – A

      1. Yes. That may be partly because it was a good-sized font and had quite a bit of spacing between lines. You get to the end before you know it. Apart from the protected divorce stuff, she kept scandal out of it.

  4. Talk about “English” — the sound of this seems very much so to me: [WINDOW, 1969]
    That’s from Genesis’ first album… prior to their progressive move.

    I pretty much can’t help but liking that piece of art.

    The name of the song is the first
    word, if I recall correctly, of a linguistics
    book on “The English Languages.”

    This one, if I’ve ever listened to it before, I have not heard often: [THE CONQUEROR]
    I’ll call that pre-Post-Colonial (prescient in a large sense of history).

  5. My favorite “line” in a Genesis song:

    Young man says you are what you eat


    Old man says you are what you wear

    Well, well

    You know what you are,
    You don’t give a damn.

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