9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: 31 Songs (Paperback)
31 Songs consists of essays about songs that Nick Hornby loves. As always he is an easy read. He and I are the same age, so its fascinating to find out what he listened to growing up. He has listened to a lot of music and he writes about English middle class life in a blokish way that seems both recognisable and true.
His selections from the ‘60s and ‘70s includes tracks by the Beatles, Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Jackson Browne, Springsteen, Richard Thompson, J. Geils Band, Santana, Van Morrison and Dylan. From the punk era he selects Patti Smith and Ian Dury. He also name checks REM, Clash, Costello and The Smiths. It’s stuff that rock critics are supposed to like. He has no embarrassing duds in his selection.
As he explains in the book, in the early 1970s rock music in the UK was an underground music and difficult to hear. The BBC had two DJs who were meant to play cutting edge stuff in the early 1970s, John Peel and Bob Harris. Although highly regarded today, they seemed at the time to be a pair of out-of-touch stoners. Most of us learned about new music by word of mouth, the NME, Melody Maker and by swapping albums.
He claims to have never liked prog-rock which is surprising. Although they may deny it now, between 1971 and 1975 everybody seemed fond of either Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson or Caravan.
He notes that not many people of his age are still listening to rock music. For many rock music stopped evolving in the late 1970s and numerous heavily hyped British bands since then have seemed like false prophets regurgitating old licks.
His recent favourites include Aimee Mann, Ben Folds Five, Rufus Wainwright and Badly Drawn Boy. It is music I also like, own and enjoy. But it is also gentle, safe and rather low key. He seems more interested in the words than the music.
Hornby is an intelligent writer and this is a very enjoyable book. He has lots of opinions, he made me think about music and how my taste has evolved over time. He also includes essays on artists I knew nothing about, who are probably worth checking out.