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Summertime Blues

Gonna raise a fuss, gonna raise a holler: rock & roll books

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, June 11, 2010, Music

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life

by Steve Almond
Random House, 222 pp., $23

See if you can spot the factual infraction in Steve Almond's aside about one of his depression songs, INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" – "which you might remember as the one with the video where the comely singer Michael Hutchence wanders morosely around Prague and then, right at the end, accidentally hangs himself while masturbating." A dozen pages later, the author of bestsellers (Candyfreak) and more (My Life in Heavy Metal) inadvertently pulls his best Hunter S. Thompson, only instead of 1960s idealism receding from a high-water mark viewed from Vegas, Almond's 1990s disillusionment almost drowns at Miami Beach, "having staggered naked into the rancid Atlantic and emerged to find nothing changed." So windmills wiseass-lit mixtape as autobiography Rock and Roll Will Save You Life, from Styx, Toto, Metallica, and Air Supply to Israel, El Paso, Graceland, and Austin. James McMurtry, Kip Winger, and a "mancrush" on Bob Schneider – it's all here, including rock critic social work (Nil Lara, Ike Reilly). Musical novels (Joe Henry) vs. catchy comment (Aimee Mann) unintentionally lands the unrepentant "Drooling Fanatic," who aspires to the former but falls comfortably to the latter (say, Nick Hornby before his screenplay for An Education), which aligns perfectly with Mann's generous front-cover testimonial.

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