As a teenager growing up in rural America, I often dreamed of places like London and Leeds, of The Clash and sell-out rock 'n' roll gigs. I wanted to move to England and marry a rock star. It never happened (the rock star part).
And so when I picked up Andy Kershaw's No Off Switch, I was drawn in at once to his fascinating, first-hand account of this world. The book is humorous and full of energy and cheek. Kershaw's lived a life most of us can only dream of, and still, the book is accessible, relatable.
I was touched by Kershaw's honesty and self-deprecating candour about his shyness throughout his youth. About the time he worked up enough courage to approach the cool, assured Entertainment Secretary in the student union at Leeds University; a guy with `bog-brush hair'--a much older, mature student--and ask him for his job when he left. It was Kershaw's first day at uni. He was scrawny and `looked about twelve,' in comparison. And even though he was terrified and the guys hanging around nearby laughed him off, the Secretary, Steve, immediately signed Kershaw up as an Entertainment steward. `I was in. I was signed up. Me. I belonged,' Kershaw writes.
This is just the beginning. Kershaw has a way of inviting the reader in--of hauling us into the moment, right beside him. While he's travelled to 97 of the world's 193 countries, reported from the frontlines during the Rwanda genocide, worked alongside Billy Bragg and the Rolling Stones, his fears and insecurities, his enthusiasm, are what makes this book come alive. Which of us doesn't want to belong? Which of us still remembers the day we stood, with nervous energy, in a crowd at our first concert, our ears blasted by stereo noise, cherishing our ticket stubs?
I highly recommend this book; it captures the essence of youth and is an all-around entertaining read.