I've been a true Oldfield fan since I was eleven, and was a teenager during his transition phase in 1978. I wish I had known a lot of this then - it would have gone a long way to understanding what was happening to his music. I read this book through in one go on the day I got it and found it quite an experience to reassess all that I'd thought I'd known about Mike Oldfield.
I don't think I have ever read a biography quite like this. It seems to be a real reflection of Mike's character. It is moving, funny, revealing and philosophical. There are quite a few unintentionally humorous parts - and that is good, because the reader gets a generally unfiltered view of Mike's take on life.
The person who emerges is haunted and vulnerable, and not like your usual moronic rock star. If I wasn't an Oldfield fan I would still be fascinated by the story of his life, his perceptions and psychology.
This a proper auto-biography. There is a musical journey through the 60's onwards - and Mike's comments on punk are hilarious. Then there are some colorful stories and anecdotes - like a fifteen-year-old Mike being reprimanded by Keith Richards for 'thrashing' his guitar then hiding in a corner.
And there is the deeper level of pain and distress, the serious issue of mental illness and how it was treated thirty years ago. That is where the 'brave' comes in. The documentary aspects of this side of the biography are gripping and upsetting.
The 'beautiful' is that Mike Oldfield emerges as a flawed human being - gifted to genius level - but compassionate, kind and aware of the 'mystical'/spiritual side of life. After a while I could hear his actual voice speaking in the writing. He is amiable, reflective, puzzled, enthusiastic, and really amusing.
on 14 May 2007
Mike Oldfield fans will enjoy this. He's always been an ellusive kind of musician, against the grain of what's expected of mainstream music. The earliest albums have something of a cult reputation (massive sales of Tubular Bells make it rather more than a cult, but it remains an intimate experience), the later albums frustratingly uneven.
Oldfield's autobiography is his most satisfying production for years. As a book, it's an absorbing read, not too brief. The best sections deal with his formative years and the impact of new fame. He really does explain his early life very well. Fans will know many basic facts, but there's a kind of honesty in his book, which is quite raw in places. Amateur psychologists will love it. Naturally, the gossip can't be there, his personal relationships are barely mentioned, which is fair enough. But his own way of thinking comes over fully: therapy, emotional difficulties, (interesting) grumbles about money. In some senses, you can feel he's unburdoning himself, putting problems to rest. The only troubling aspect of this is the recognition that his best music was made under duress, and that his future work will have none of that necessary emotional drive. Die-hard fans have always wanted a repeat of the early works (he has come close) and the end of the book optimistically hints at an attempted return, thanks to self-awareness. Recommended.
on 20 May 2007
A fascinating insight into the life of Mike Oldfield. I loved reading this book and indeed enjoy his music. There is no doubt that he had a difficult childhood and adolesence, at which time he was at his most musically motivated. The book comes across as very frank and honest and Oldfield never over sells himself. Spiritually speaking I do wonder if he has found the truth yet? Sadly alot of Oldfields latter works have gone largely unappreciated. But he has stood the test of time. In a recent interview Mike stated that his next work will be classical in format and that it was the only thing that he hadnt really tried. I do hope that there will be a few more works before an inevitable retirement (well deserved). Once again I loved reading this book and even if your not an Oldfield fan I would recommend it. Commendable is the fact that money from the sale of this book will go to charity.
on 11 July 2007
"Changeling" focuses primarily on the earlier part of Mike Oldfield's life, and his problematic childhood and teenage years, leading up to the writin/recording of his groundbreaking "Tubular Bells". This occupies at least the first half of the book, but it is a fascinating, if sad or concerning read at times.
The majority of the book does focus on his lifelong problem with panic attacks, and coming to terms with the causes. This has obviously dominated his existence, but also helped fuel his creativity.
Sadly, last 20 years are only skimmed over in the last quarter of the book. Perhaps he didn't have much to tell. At least nothing as interesting as his tales from the 1970s. He worked pretty much non-stop in the 90s, so maybe there was nothing really to talk about - although personally, I would have liked to have read more about the inspiration or recording process behind certain albums, such as "Amarok" or "Tubular Bells II".
"Changeling" is a deeply personal and generally open/honest read. In a way - and certainly after reading the last chapter - it's almost like a self-help/therapy exercise in itself; putting down all his experiences, memories, thoughts etc in writing. Maybe writing it helped him come to terms or reflect upon certain aspects of his life. I knew little about the man behind the music before I started reading the book. I now feel like I know Mike just a little, and certainly feel closer to his music. There were many things he described in the book that I can relate to or connect with, and some of it has made me think about a few things. It's fair to say I've gained something from reading it.
Although I was left wanting to know more about the later years, I could happily go back to the beginning and start over again.
on 19 February 2009
This is a fascinating insight into the life of a musical genius who produced what is arguably the most memorable and remarkable album of the twentieth century, and much other brilliant music besides. With disarming candour, yet not without a generous helping of wit and humour, Oldfield tells how the angst of his early family life, his partially self-imposed isolation from 'normal' society and his frequent use of drugs all combined to give his work that characteristic 'edge' and unique quality.
Mike tells how he was plagued with depression and multiple phobias, and of his road to overcoming them, as well as his ongoing spiritual quest. His changes of outlook, attitudes and personality are reflected in the changing quality of his musical work, leading to the more confident yet in some ways less creative person that he is today.
This is a very readable book, structured in such a way that it is easy to read small or large sections at one's preference, although it's likely that once picked up, it will be hard to put down.
on 9 January 2012
First of all it's fair to say the writing style is a bit dry but if if Mike was a writer he'd had been writing books since 1973 instead of recording some of the best and most innovative music I've ever heard in my life.
'Changeling' covers almost everything from birth to present day including the Manor days (I met one of his dog's (Bootleg's) offspring once. What a claim to fame!) I'm glad to read that he rates 'Amarok' highly. It's one of my favourites too and I wondered at the time why I almost had to almost stumble across it. Apparently the record company didn't think it worth pushing! 'Amarok' is, in my opinion at least, to 'Ommadawn' what 'Tubular Bells II' was to 'Tubular Bells'!
This book is not a collection of rock and roll anecdotes, but a brave and open account of the life thus far of one of the most gifted (and one time notoriously introverted) musicians England has produced.
Mike describes in detail how he approached each album and the circumstances surrounding him at the time. Frankly it's amazing that he's been able to do anything in some of the places he's been, like the house on Hergest Ridge! Despite it all, he's still produced work of rare genius and deep feeling.
Then there's the exegesis seminar which helped him to escape the torment of his own mind. It was given some very bad press at the time, as I remember. Here he writes about it in detail. For him it included primal scream and rebirth enactment therapy and, while traumatic, it can't have been half as bad as the world he was living in up to then.
'Changeling' is a compelling and often surprising book and he writes as he plays; with his heart on his sleeve.
Mike Oldfield is a remarkable man who's lived a remarkable life and I'm very grateful for having had the chance to read about it. At the end I felt like standing and applauding his honestly and bravery. The man has come through hell to reclaim his own mind. This is a story of pain, fear and triumph. It's also a celebration of life and the opportunity he has to report on it in the language he understands best and which we've learned to understand over the years. Thank you Mike.
And then there's the lion. Don't forget the lion.
on 31 July 2007
Essential reading for all MIKE OLDFIElD fans, and helpful for people who have encountered similar problems in their lives.
I recieved the book yesterday and read it from cover to cover from 8 in the evening to 2.30 am. I have been a fan since I was 16 and I am 48 now. I applaud MIKE for writing his own story and not leaving it to a ghost writer; his writing is as good as any accomplished writer. His music will always be part of my life and for me to read how 'TUBULAR BELLS' first came about is truly amazing. Creative geniuses are often fragile beings by their very nature and MIKE has written an excellent account of how he has managed to overcome the difficulties that held him back.
on 20 July 2007
The title gives it all away. Changeling is about Mike Himself, how he struggled to be accepted and how he accepted people rather than going into fine detail about his musical brilliance. If you understand or want to understand how some people tick then you'll find this book engaging and easy to read as it's wrote in plain, easy and simple language but a language that many will be able to understand very clearly.
If your looking at a blow by blow account of his music you'll not find much that will excite you. This is really all about his problematic life and how he's struggled to accept or be part of the real world. On that level it is to be enjoyed and not on many other.
on 13 March 2011
First of all, I have been a fan of Mike Oldfield for many years, so would have purchased this book without reading a single review. Other reviews have pretty much covered everything, and I don't think I can add to it in any great detail.
Mike is a self-confessed fan of Star Trek (as am I), and whilst there is no mention of this, I believe the book is named after a character from Deep Space 9 (Odo, whose race is known to some as Changelings). Fans of Deep Space 9 would understand why he chose this title for his autobiography, as one can see how Mike would relate to the story of this character. A Google search for 'Deep Space 9 Odo' will tell you about the character much better than I could here.
There is a lot of focus on his life just prior to Tubular Bells, and also to the period between it's release, and that of his second album; Hergest Ridge. The other periods of his life seem to take less priority, aside from some page space being taken by his 're-birth' and the development of his spiritual beliefs. I would liked to have seen more about the inspirations for his music, and perhaps his own musical tastes, and whilst there is an element of this, it is rather concise. The last few years seem to be a little rushed in terms of detail.
Having said all that, I still found the book fascinating, and read the whole thing in one go (as it happens, whilst listening to Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, and Ommadawn on my iPod whilst travelling on a train). I had intended to read a few pages, then settle into my journey with just the music, but found myself unable to put the book down.
For an Oldfield fan, this is essential reading. Those with a casual, or no interest in his music will probably find parts of Changeling interesting, but some of it will be irrelevant without knowing his music, at least partially.
on 16 September 2009
With some delay, finally read it and it's been an absolute pleasure. If you read Rick Wakeman's 'Say Yes' autobiography, then you can understand what one means by 'charmingly funny and down-to-earth'.
The tone is perfect and surprisingly lucid even when describing the late '60s and early '70s in London... Most of the book is about the time period which leads up to the making of Tubular Bells, followed by very rewarding chapters on that album.
It is quote touching how he writes about his own personality, his parents and the ultimately tragic story of his mother. It manages to balance these deeply personal elements with the musical musings and descriptions of technical/technological nature (when it comes to his creative recording tricks and the challenges he had to face in the studio). It makes one appreciate even more the immense creativity that has gone into those albums, and this is the thing, he writes with great (and not false) modesty.
The only negative aspect I would mention here, and it stems from my infatuation with his music, is that the book would have been even more riveting if it had more details about the later albums. Still, with the short stories and thoughts about those, one still gets a good picture on what the inspiration and motivations were.