Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs: Portraits of a Musical Life

Rock & roll summer reading

Twisting by the Pool

Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs: Portraits of a Musical Life

by Jay Farrar
Soft Skull Press, 192 pp., $15.95 (paper)

Jay Farrar's memoir reads less as an autobiography than as a series of stream of consciousness vignettes looking back over his 46 years. The short passages, often a page or less, read almost like prose poems, with aesthetic nods to his stated literary influences of Kerouac, Stein, Bukowski, and Burroughs. He rarely reflects on songwriting or working with his renowned bands, Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt, save for a brief, unexpected take on the breakup of the former couched in an anecdote on his nostalgia for junkyards. Neither the trio nor its famous "bass player," Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, gets mentioned by name. Rather, the book seems more a reckoning of Farrar's own thoughts, a recording of impressions from growing up in St. Louis and life on the road. His father receives weighted consideration in those memories, while his accounts of meeting idols Townes Van Zandt, Doug Sahm, and Alex Chilton are notable for the almost mundane nature of the interactions. For Farrar, the minutiae of detail becomes the pivotal point, as he largely leaves the reader to form his own meaning.

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