The title of this books begs the next line . . . but I like it, like it, yes I do. Except I didn’t.
Jenny Body, Donovan’s muse, Mick’s (Fleetwood, not Jagger) ex, George and Eric’s one-time sister-in-law, found psychology after unknowingly becoming the poster girl for the 1960s, then decided to interview all her famous musician friends about what rattles around in their brains. The good doctor put her thesis (or at least part of it) into words in 2013 and published It’s Not Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: Iconic Musicians Reveal the Source of Their Creativity.
While 75 people share their inmost thoughts about everything from insecurity to inspiration, it’s just not that interesting as far as facts go. You’ve read it all before in Rolling Stone, in a biography or autobiography, or watched it unfold on VH-1’s Behind The Music, maybe heard it on The Howard Stern show. Jennifer Juniper may know most or all of these folks, but there was nothing particularly insightful to share.
There were tidbits here and there . . . Keith Richards acknowledging that he seems to have a higher tolerance to illegal substances than others . . . Ringo admitting that John and Paul laughed at him when he first attempted songwriting . . . but I am not so sure any of it is brand new. Sure, there’s some interesting stuff about the creative process because it varies from person to person, but didn’t you already know that? Likewise, most of them talked about rough childhoods, awkward teen years, insecurities, drug and alcohol abuse and none of it was surprising.
That aside, what interested me was the dichotomy of the interviews versus the analysis. As Boyd waxed on about how musicians do what they do, how they have to put ego aside and become one with the universe, my brain was telling me quite the opposite. If adulation is part of what drives the bus of genius, which most of these folks thrive on, then that theory doesn’t work. Another reason I didn’t enjoy this book; the psychological suppositions don’t quite jive with the interviews. While the talented are going on about the false sense of greatness achieved through chemical means, Jenny’s talking about this wonderful state of higher consciousness. She’s romanticized rock ‘n’ roll on some level and while the music of my generation is a beautiful thing, I’m not sure her ideas are substantiated.
Jenny penned this book with a fairly well-known editor, who didn’t seem to help much with the writing process. The style is not all that engaging and reads more like a textbook than anything else, which can be tedious. Still, I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the creative process, especially those of you who haven’t spent a good portion of your free time immersed in music writing or minoring in psychology.
Yesterday’s child (me) may have become jaded. And I don’t want to be the one that jaded you.