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Lost in Music Paperback – 10 Nov 2000
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‘If you have ever watched a band play or bought a pop record you should read this book’ John Peel
About the Author
Giles Smith is a journalist whose writing has appeared in many British publications and in the New Yorker. He was named Sports Columnist of the Year in 1998. A collection of his sports writing, Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel, was published by Picador in November 2000.
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The book is half Smith's autobiography as a music lover, and half incisive ruminations on various aspects of music (cd vs. vinyl, should or shouldn't one shag with the stereo on, etc.). And it's all golden. Anyone who's been in a band will laugh his ass off; this is like observational comedy for musicians.
Yet there is a true heart to the tale, and Smith has a knack for finding the truly meaningful in such minor events as Damon Albarn singing Christmas carols with his mother, meeting Ni(c)k Kershaw, or lip synching in the garage with friends who just don't get it ("That's NOT how they do it.").
I've been rambling, but do yourself a favor and buy this book. If you've ever put a musician's photo on your wall, contemplated speaker stands, or lied about what the first record you bought was, you'll read this book over and over again. I have.
Re-reading the book while on holiday this year just reaffirmed to me how brilliant it is. Not just funny, but poignant in places and superbly observed all over.
Giles Smith is a big favourite of mine - his column on sport on TV in The Times (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) is essential reading, as are his columns in The Guardian (cars on Tuesday) and on TV in The Sunday Telegraph. Do yourself a favour and read Lost In Music followed by Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel. Both hugely uplifting.
'Lost in Music' is much fuller and encompassing than his newspaper articles on Sport in 'Midnight in the Garden of Evil Kineval' but the humour, the sharp observation, the intimate arcane knowledge of the subject matter shine through.
You must excuse me now, I have to go to a darkened bedroom and listen to "Dark Side of the Moon" with my headphones on....
The book also introduced me to the wonderful Martyn Newell, and I suspect it was instrumental in getting his talent rightly recognised - he became resident poet at the Independent. Newell plays a big part in this book, and is indirectly responsible for a large chunk of its charm.
A must - buy and a book I will never part with.
Strangely some of the funniest moments aren't directly related to Smith's abortive pop career. He recalls how the piano at home had to be regularly tuned, but thanks to central heating sounded like a hawaiian guitar within hours. He also dissects Tony Blair's choice of 'favourite artists' when interviewed in 1994/5, and detects, with great prescience, a suspiciously 'catch all' selection (REM, Seal, Annie Lennox) doubtless chosen by his spin doctors to cause least offence (US band, black male singer, white female singer). How would he have been perceived if his response had been Slipknot, Henry Cow and Crass (selecting a few at random!).
The thing I particularly like about the book is Smith's honesty. He admits to owning albums (perhaps all) by 10cc and Nik Kershaw; that of all the LPs he took to university he played only 6 (either by Stevie Wonder or XTC); and recalls the drudgery of recording with the Cleaners From Venus in a grotty Denmark Street basement. It's a cautionary tale of getting close but no cigar.
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