Wednesday, April 8

"1971 - Rock's Golden Year" & "Open" - Two Book Picks

One of the things that can be hard about boredom is that it's so easy to spend two minutes checking your DMs and then black out and realise you've been scrolling for seven hours. I've got Screentime on my phone to try and curb my obsessive Instagram tendencies, but sometimes the best way is to go cold turkey and a book can be just the ticket. They can offer escapism, a new point of view, or even publisher-approved lifehacks (no slicing up t-shirts with scissors required). Here are some recent picks for helping prevent square eyes:

"1971 - Never A Dull Moment (Rock’s Golden Year)” by David Hepworth.

David is a music writer who used to work on Smash Hits, Q, Mojo and also the BBC’s rock program Whistle Test (before my time it must be said). 1971 is an awesome book that catalogs the vast amount of timeless and beloved music that was cranked out - all in one year (I would reckon there's at least one album in your record collection from 1971 if not more). There’s that crazy fact about how woolly mammoths were still on the move while the pyramids were being built on another part of the world and this whole book feels like that, and if you’re a massive music fan like me it will blow your mind.

To give you something of an idea - here's just the stuff I can remember:

On New Year’s Eve 1970 Paul McCartney asked his lawyers to issue a writ to officially disband the Beatles, months later Bowie ventured to America alone where he met Lou Reed and wrote Moonage Daydream. Meanwhile, Carole King was recording Tapestry and trying to get it on a label. In the studio next door, Joni Mitchell wrote Blue while James Taylor cut You’ve Got A Friend around the corner. The little sister from the Carpenters filled in and stepped up as the lead singer for the first time, the Beach Boys woke up from hiatus and wrote Surf’s Up, the Rolling Stones moved to a mega-mansion in France in tax exile and wrote Exile on Main Street after Mick married Bianca in May and Led Zeppelin released Stairway to Heaven. Stevie Wonder turned 21 and discovered synthesisers for the first time, completely reworking his sound. Elton John released Madman Across The Water which introduced the world to Tiny Dancer and Elvis toured in his white bedazzled suit and in the same year it’s the first-ever Glastonbury.

"Open" by Frankie Bridge

Like many of us, I know Frankie best as the one with short hair from The Saturdays, but this book is a really frank ('scuse the pun) look at her journey with mental health and her relationship with the media. It’s been very à la mode lately to talk about the toll that social media and traditional press has on our mental health, and I found it interesting to hear from someone who has spent time in the spotlight pre and post-social media and how different the effects have been.

Frankie says at one point that she had the realisation she wasn’t known in the band for being the best singer, but instead for what she was wearing and who she was dating. What this meant was that she was put in a precarious position with the press as her career was much more closely tied to her personal image than some of her bandmates. At the time, she was able to have some distance because she could choose not to read the papers etc. However, after being hospitalized due to the deterioration of her mental health later in her career, she then emerged back into the world – feeling vulnerable and very open and aware of external criticism, to be told by her management that she would need to have an Instagram and social media presence in order to maintain her image and secure brand deals.

This meant she had to bring all of those outside voices into her home for the first time via her phone - something we all keep in our pockets 24/7 like a lead weight. It was just a really interesting look also at the way she’s lived her life with mental illnesses but also a little magnifying glass on the way that press and celebrity has changed and the effects of that within a little microcosm. A really insightful read in light of the #BeKind movement - plus a glimpse behind the showbiz curtain that comes with life on the road.

Next on my list is Circe by Madeleine Miller as recommended by Chloe Robertson on Insta. What have you been reading?

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