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Music Gift Guide: Books

The man who gave us "Eve of Destruction" and "Secret Agent Man," then abruptly fell off the pop-culture radar

Reviewed by Scott Schinder, December 5, 2014, Music

What's Exactly the Matter With Me?: Memoirs of a Life in Music

by P.F. Sloan & S.E. Feinberg
Jawbone Press, 320pp., $19.95

In his Sixties heyday, wunderkind songwriter-producer and brilliant pop-rocker P.F. Sloan built a powerful and enduring body of work. Then the author of "Eve of Destruction" and "Secret Agent Man" abruptly fell off the pop-culture radar and into an extended, nightmarish lost period fueled by nasty business dealings and his own emotional fragility. Sloan relives his long, strange trip in this unconventional but consistently compelling memoir, which captures the exhilaration of his early successes, the pain and confusion of his wilderness years, and the quiet triumph of his eventual spiritual rebirth. Some of the details in Sloan's telling don't quite add up, and sloppy editing results in several significant musical figures – and the Danelectro guitar brand – getting their names misspelled, but there's no questioning the emotional accuracy of Sloan's narrative. What's Exactly the Matter With Me? poignantly conveys the tragic truth of a sensitive, creative soul ground up by cynical showbiz machinations.

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