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Earthbound: The Bakerloo Line (Penguin Underground Lines) Paperback – 7 Mar 2013
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"The stand-out is Paul Morley's eclectic, headspinning "Earthbound." . . it mixes memoir and manifesto to create something paradoxical: an obituary for pre-digital ways of experiencing art that's gleeful and inquisitive rather than emptily nostalgic." Times"
"Authors include the masterly John Lanchester, the children of Kids Company, comic John O'Farrell and social geographer Danny Dorling. Ranging from the polemical to the fantastical, the personal to the societal, they offer something for every taste. All experience the city as a cultural phenomenon and notice its nature and its people. Read individually they're delightful small reads, pulled together they offer a particular portrait of a global city." "Evening Standard"
"Exquisitely diverse." "Times""
"Eclectic and broad-minded. . . beautifully designed." "Observer""
"The contrasts and transitions between books are as stirring as the books themselves. . . A multidimensional literary jigsaw." "Londonist""
"A series of short, sharp, city-based vignettes some personal, some political and some pictorial. . . each inimitable author finds that our city is complicated but ultimately connected, full of wit, and just the right amount of grit." "Fabric "Magazine"
"A collection of beautiful books." "Grazia""
About the Author
Critic and cultural theorist Paul Morley has written books about music history, Joy Division, suicide, the moog synthesiser and the north of England. A contributor to numerous publications from the Face to the Financial Times, a founding member of the Art of Noise, he appears regularly on BBC 2's The Review Show and has presented radio and television documentaries on many subjects including Brian Eno, boredom, the recording studio and Anthony Burgess. He uses an unregistered Oyster Card.
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Top customer reviews
I take it all back having read this. It's a terrific little book that distills his passion, his wit, and his wonderful way with words into a short narrative that is, at once, about him, the history of the Bakerloo line, the experience of using the Tube, the thoughts that that experience can give rise to, the recent history of music, the impact of technology and, finally, the Krautrock group Can.
If that sounds off-putting then this is probably not the book for you. Personally, I love the way it makes unexpected connections. I could be pretentious and say it's a big Krautrock riff that simultaneously quotes and recomposes different styles of music - but in more straightforward terms it's simply a very carefully considered, well-written and charming book. And a great one, needless to say, to be read while travelling by Tube.
While very little of the music described in this book is on high rotation on my play lists, this did not take much away from the book as whole. This is account of at least three journeys, a musical one, a physical on the train and technological one in the way that we listen to and ‘consume’ music. These three journeys blend rather well into a single narrative.
This book manages to combine trains and music in a rather more sensible way than the last book I reviewed in this series – Heads and Straights by Lucy Wadham.
A good balance of the history of the line, music and the author makes for an interesting read.
As with several of the other books in this series, a description of the line is offered, but is used principally as a hook for enticing insights into the writer's life, and Morley gives us a real treat, with a brief history of the personal stereo (from his first Walkman, brought back from Japan by his girlfriend at a time when they were absolutely unknown in Britain, through to the iPod and MP3 players.
As one would expect, he also writes eloquently about the music he would listen to while travelling the few stops along the Line from Swiss Cottage or Finchley Road (now, of course, to be found on the usurping Jubilee Line) into the city centre), including a detailed history of the experimental rock band Can (whom I had never heard of before).
As it happens, despite having lived in London for thirty years now I have very few experiences of travelling on the Bakerloo Line, apart form the odd jaunt from Embankment to Paddington when rushing to get a train out West, but having enjoyed this informative and engaging little book I shall make a point of travelling on it much more often.
Paul Morley combines his early years in writing for the NME with the arrival of the Sony Walkman cassette player in this journey into adulthood (of sorts) .
A thoroughly enjoyable read !
Instead it's much more about the music that dominated the author's life, both on and off the tube. Since his encyclopaedic knowledge of 80s and 90s bands and genres was of little interest to me it was hard to make a connection.