“Shhhh! I’m still Reading”
Jerry Lucky Commentary December 2016
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2016 All Rights Reserved
At the risk of repeating myself….I want to go on record as saying I like books…and by that I mean physical books. Without sharing too much information I will tell you I typically read two books at a time. One I read during the day and the other I read in bed at night before turning out the light. The point I’m making is that reading is a very important part of my make-up. You know, over the years my wife and daughter have purchased books for me and I have to say books I’ve received as gifts hold an important place in my heart because they tell me that the person doing the giving was thinking about me on a deeper level than just giving me “stuff.”
Now; a word about electronic books. EBooks and eBook readers have been getting so much attention of late as book sellers fervently try to convince us that reading books electronically is the way to go. I’m not sure how that “battle” is going but here’s something to consider. I don’t know how many of you ever watched the television series Revolution? It’s a series that takes place fifteen years after a global blackout. It’s a future where there is no power. One of the more poignant moments is where we see one of the characters upset that she has lost her dead cell phone. She’s distraught because even though the batteries have long since expired and it is essentially useless…it is the only device she has that contains photos of her family who have all perished. She knows they are there, even if she can no longer see them. It’s like she’s living in hope that perhaps at some point in the future they may come to life once more.
So as far as eBooks…I’m not keen of being steered to using devices that rely on power or batteries. It’s true that purchasing an eBook is cheaper, but what’s the point if it’s not readable when the power goes out? And yet…and this is a BIG AND YET…in a world where costs continue to drive the market, who am I to argue with an author whose only recourse to getting their book published is to do so electronically. On that score I for one am very happy to see that self-publishing is also something that has become affordable for authors such as myself. Having had one book of mine self-published proved to be an eye opening experience.
All of which brings me to Gary Hill. Hill has been publishing the Music Street Journal since 1998 and over the years has amassed quite a collection of interviews from musicians of all stripes. He contacted me a few weeks back to tell me about his new book new entitled Poetry of the Air: A Collection of Love Letters from Musicians to Music. Having gone through this quite amazing 300+ page book I would suggest it should be really high on the gift-giving list for Progressive Rock music fans because in amongst those pages are some wonderfully insightful interviews with some of our favorite bands. It’s a long list but it includes individuals from such groups as YES, Klaatu, Genesis, King Crimson, Dream Theater, Glass Hammer plus many more. In fact the list includes eighty-seven artists from a wide range of genres. What fascinated me most is that a great number of the interviews are from rather obscure artists who’ve been reviewed here on this site. I won’t tell you who…you’ll have to pick up the book to find out.
The interviews all focus on the early music that originally inspired the artists. Hill in fact tends to use the same or similar questions for each interviewee. I really liked that because what this does is offer a kind of standard form of comparison, across genres which then allows the reader to see what the distinguishing characteristics might be for the music they enjoy. It’s an intriguing methodology that I really appreciated.
As someone that’s conducted hundreds of interviews over the years, I really liked and appreciated this book. Doing interviews isn’t always easy, but here Hill has managed to craft some well thought out open-ended questions that inspired those he interviewed to provide more than just yes or no answers. Their responses really inform us about how and why they create the music they do. In doing so Hill gets to the heart of these artists musical motivation. It’s like a glimpse into the secret place. So not only great questions, but great responses as well. Poetry of the Air is currently available in both paperback and hardcover at lulu.com/strangesound. The paperback version is available at sites like Amazon.com
This is a great book. And while not every interview is with a Progressive Rock artist there’s more than enough included to warrant this book being a solid buy for Prog fans. I heartily recommend it. Now I wonder if I should dig out all my old cassette tape interviews?
Hey just one more closing thought. I remember watching the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the interesting aspects of the show was that they created books in that series world where the corners were cut off. I thought this was a very clever move because you can lose the corners of books without impacting the book’s significance in anyway and yet, you’ve created something totally unique and apart from our world. On top of this in one episode Commander Adama is speaking with a character in the series who expresses interest in a book of his. Adama proceeds to give the book to that character with the message that it is not expected to be returned. Another words in their world a book is given as a gift to be read with no expectation of its return. I liked that idea. It is a true gift. At least that’s what I think.