What's Exactly the Matter with Me?: Memoirs of a Life in Music Paperback – 19 Jun 2014
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If you re fascinated by the 60s, and in songwriting in general, then buy this book. --Record Collector
Highly readable and entertaining. --Mojo
A poignant remembrance of a vanished era when summer meant fun, and a gifted young songwriter could take a little ray of sunshine, a little bit of soul, add just a touch of magic and get the greatest thing since rock n roll. --L.A. Observed
About the Author
P.F. Sloan is a legendary songwriter and performer.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have always been dubious about "factual" books, usually taken from conversations with friends and family and written by someone I have never heard of. With so many contradictions between accounts I now prefer quick access music reference books. However, earlier this year I came across with great excitement "What's Exactly The Matter With Me" co-written by P F Sloan.
Taken from extensive conversations with P F Sloan, it is written in a chronological and very easy to read up close manner. I felt as if I was actually there experiencing with him the highs, lows and in betweens along the way. A lot of well known names are mentioned, as you would expect, but this book also reveals the boy and man as he navigates the journey to who he has become today.
To me, the book concludes that there was never actually anything the matter with Phil. He comes across as a caring and sensitive person. Perhaps his lifestyle has been a little more excessive than that of us normal folk but we all can relate to more than one thought or experience from his life.
Whether you're a fan of P F Sloan's or not, this well constructed and fascinating book is definitely worth a read. I may be bias but I've had some books for years on favourite artists that I still have to finish. I'm on the third reading of this book. Like a new favourite record, I just can't bring myself to filing it away.
His early years were blighted by the cruel practices of Lou Adler and are a series of wasted opportunities and continual artistic dead ends, his desires to take the Grass Roots or the Fantastic Baggies on the road were curtailed and stopped both from assuming their rightful place amongst the great acts of their respective eras, a situation that didn't even improve when Adler sold Dunhill to ABC/Paramount, one of PF's deepest regrets was being unable to perform a Baggies set in front of his mother, whilst the likes of Bruce and Terry, Jan and Dean, The Ripchords were placing his compositions on the American and especially the Australian charts [the Baggies were number 1 on the Australian charts during a tour that featured the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, a tour that instead of headlining with his band saw PF relegated to bass player for other artists] the name PF Sloan is still anything but a household name.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"He had the vibe that stars have and that commercial jet pilots used to have." S.E. Feinberg.
"Stardom and success lay in front of me now, followed by destruction and ultimately resurrection." P.F. Sloan.
"I had already been labeled a perverted harbinger of dangerous thinking by the public and by the record companies. P.F. Sloan.
"Are you a red, Flip? Because if you are, let me know, so we can put a bullet in your head." Jay Lasker, Dunhill Records, asking Sloan about his song "Sins Of A Family."
"This new 'art' and 'creativity' thing was starting to get in the way of how things had always been done." P.F. Sloan on recording.
This is an entertaining and sometimes informative look (with a number of typographical errors throughout the book) at the music business from Sloan's viewpoint. The book (with the help of writer S.E. Feinberg) is written in the first-person style which gives it an immediacy, a conversational feel. You will have to decide what you choose to believe and what not to believe--Sloan just lays it out for you to digest. There's a few pages of photographs from across Sloan's (real name Philip Gary Schlein) life, placed in the very beginning of the book. Also included is 22 pages of "The P.F. Sloan Songbook" with informative and interesting notes on Sloan's songs, and a "Select Discography", and an Index. This book gets 3 1/2 "stars" for the book itself, and another 1/2 "star" for Sloan having the chestnuts to include some things that some readers may choose to disbelieve--(the Sloan/Dylan/David Crosby meeting which included two blonde topless twins, and Zorro swinging onto the room's balcony on a rope--hmmm)--to each his own.
Another instance doesn't seem to ring true--when Sloan writes about Zappa/The Turtles/Flo & Eddie, "...I suspect Frank [Zappa] told them [Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of The Turtles]...you'll take a lot more acid and be embraced by the Grateful Dead crowd...,--when it's well known that Zappa didn't take drugs and didn't want anyone in his bands to use them either, and he didn't think to highly (no pun intended) of the whole S.F. "scene". Or this-- "I could no longer sleep at my house...my Brazilian landlord was living in a secret room under the floorboards and stealing food from the refrigerator." Or how about Sloan's description of George Harrison's visit to the Haight-Ashbury,--with Harrison getting out of his car and Phil Lesh and Sloan telling him to get in the car and leave immediately before "the zombies started pushing and trying to roll the car over with him in it. They started crawling on the car like hungry lizards. As the car sped off, the zombies looked around for something else to crawl onto...". Again, hmmm. But no matter--this book is still eminently readable about that whole period of music, focusing on the West Coast and L.A. in particular. A lot of events and people are covered by Sloan in his book, and whether you choose to believe or disbelieve what he says happened, the book as a whole is a genuine joy to read--especially if you're old enough (like me) to remember those days. Just maybe a few of those stranger events did occur--the time was right and the energy was there all around, for anyone to pick up. And Sloan's use of descriptive words and way with a phrase always makes for interesting, fun, and sometimes enlightening reading.
"Maybe my destiny was to sacrifice it all and wind up dead in the gutter with a crumpled poem in my hand, to be published immediately in the New Yorker upon my death." P.F. Sloan.
"No one will be able to leave once the door is closed." Bob Dylan talking to Sloan.
The first couple of chapters deal with Sloan's early life, but the story rapidly shifts to Sloan and the music world. As such it's a look inside the always interesting, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes scary world of the music business and pop music culture, and Sloan's place (as he sees it) in it. But above all it's an entertaining read--especially for those of us who can remember the music that came blasting out of the car radio, or your "new" transistor radio in the late 50's and early 60's. You'll come across many artists you'll recognize--many who made use of Sloan's (and Steve Barri's) writing talent. Sloan said of Barri--"...he loved the simple things in life: sex, TV, and a good deli. He also loved music, too...". From pop songs, to folk hits, to surf music, Sloan was there, and his descriptions of events will bring both a smile and sometimes a look of incredulity to your face.
"P.F. Sloan made folk themes reachable." S.E. Feinberg.
"May all beings in all the worlds know peace and happiness." P.F. Sloan.
I always (and still) like Sloan's music from The Fantastic Baggys, (a personal favorite) to (the original) The Grass Roots, to his solo work, plus the songs he wrote that became hits for other artists. There was just something in his lyrics (and not just "Eve of Destruction") that seemed to capture the right moment and the feel of the times. If you're old enough to remember this music this book is something you should check out. This book can easily sit on the shelf next to books like "Follow The Music", "Hotel California", "Riot On Sunset Strip", "Becoming Elektra", "Waiting For The Sun", "Canyon Of Dreams", and other books on that era of music. If you found those books interesting, informative, and just a plane fun/time machine-like look back at that whole scene, get this book. For a good selection of the songs and the artists who made them popular check out the album "You Baby--Words & Music by P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri", and look for Sloan's collection of work he did for the Dunhill label during the time when most everything in this book was happening.
One star off for the typos mentioned by other reviewers. I see this in a lot of recent books. Must come from over reliance on computer spell checks instead of human proofreaders. Hopefully, they will fix it for future editions. (Especially, the repeated substitution of Grass Roots for Fantastic Baggys in the "Songbook" section.)
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