Music book club with NYC’s Darlings

Post Author: Darlings

So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter

Ten or so years ago, probably concerned that I was spending more time drinking and playing music than studying, my dad bought me the book So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter, drummer from the band/punchline Semisonic. Not the punkest book on the shelf, but it’s a fun and insightful read. It details their slow (and then super fast, thanks to that one song) rise to rock sorta-stardom, focusing on the major label drudgery that eventually consumed it. Turns out you can sell a shitload of records and still lose money. So basically my dad was saying, “Please stay in school.” It may not stand up against the classics of the genre, but in terms of parental passive-aggression, it can’t be beat. —Matt Solomon, drums

Lobotomy by Dee Dee Ramone

It’s pretty trashy, but I also found this book funny and insightful. By funny I mean mostly sad, because you’re getting a recollection of the Ramones’ career through the eyes of their heroin-addicted bass player (who also happened to write most of their best songs). I really enjoyed reading about Dee Dee’s early days in post-war Berlin, hanging out alone in the ruins, and his realization as an adult that people like Arturo Vega (friend and logo creator for the band) cooked themselves real dinner instead of eating “chips and dope every night.”—Peter Rynsky, guitar/vox

Playground by 50 Cent

Before 50 Cent got shot nine times and bullied Ja Rule out of the rap game, he was a fat loser with major anger management issues. In Playground, Fiddy’s tell-all expertly disguised as an illustrated YA novel, the first thing that happens is our hero fills a sock with D batteries and uses it to beat the daylights out of the local bully. I don’t know what happens after that because I only flipped through the first few pages, but sometimes when people pick on me I just imagine 50 Cent as a thirteen-year-old chubster swinging a sock full of batteries into their teeth and that usually makes me feel better. Thanks 50! —Andrew Olshevski, drums

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Even though Gordon titled her new memoir as a reaction to the overused, very ~whatever~ interview question, “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” I’m happy she went ahead and answered it anyway with this new book, full of candid reflections on three decades spent making music and touring with Sonic Youth. The best parts, for me, are her ‘60s California childhood (colored by the Manson murders and her older brother’s mental illness), her family’s moves to Hawaii and Hong Kong, and finally, her early ‘80s arrival to New York’s underground art scene. I’ve never really been a big fan of Sonic Youth, but getting to read Gordon’s take on what happens in her head while performing, touring with Neil Young, and the much-publicized end of her relationship with Thurston Moore, felt like finally getting to hear from the quietest (and most interesting, really) person in the room. —Maura M. Lynch, guitar/keys/vox

The Psychic Soviet by Ian Svenonius

While he’s probably best known as the singer from Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up, I love that Ian Svenonius has in recent years brought his raconteur-ism to a wider range of pursuits, from writing an instruction manual on starting a rock band to hosting an online talk show. (In one episode, he asks Stephen Malkmus about his time working at the Whitney Museum: “I know that you were a guard…so do you see yourself as a guardian of art?”) Svenonius brings that same blend of dry wit and pseudo-seriousness to his 2006 book, The Psychic Soviet. It’s a collection of essays that claims, in its introductory “Instructions,” that it “should clear up much of the confusion regarding events of the last millennium—artistic, geo-political, philosophical, et al.” And all in a volume that fits in your pocket? Sold! But be careful — although there is an essay that compares and contrasts the respective 1968 outputs of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, the brilliantly titled “You Can’t Always Get No Satisfaction” is actually not about the Rolling Stones at all, but post-Cold War US/Russian relations. Let’s just say you have to stay on your toes. In any case, it’s a must-own for any self-respecting DC-area music fan, apathetic graduate of a liberal arts college, or collector of books bound in hot pink leatherette. —Kyle Kabel, bass