Book Review: Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us by Steve Almond

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us

“The only thing wrong with music, as far as I’m concerned, is that you cannot eat it.”

I fell in love with that statement. As an admitted music and concert junky, I couldn’t wait to dive into this book. Steve Almond nailed it time and time again in his attempts to explain the mind of a Drooling Fanatic. I’ve always said that there isn’t a single memory I have that doesn’t have an internal soundtrack playing in my head. That usually garners a few odd looks from people that don’t *get* it. All I could do when reading was think “yes! Yes that’s it! Me too!” Finally someone else was able to put it into words, to explain what that fascination is all about.

“It’s not just about the music. It’s about who you are when you listen to the music and who you wish to be and the way a particular song can bridge that gap, can make you feel the abrupt thrill of absolute faith.” 

It’s not perfect and that’s ok. It started off better than it ended, delving a little too much into the autobiographical pool for my liking, especially in contrast to the beginning of the book. While I can appreciate the attempt to illustrate the devotion one has to a music act, especially when you feel like your favorite act never reached the fame and recognition they deserve, I don’t feel like I was given a real reason to WANT some of them to “make it” or to care that they didn’t. Whatever “make it” even means.

The interviews with his favorite musicians illustrated why I rarely read biographies or memoirs of people whose music I adore. I don’t want the reality – I don’t want to think about the depression they may experience, or the demons they’re haunted by, or the truth in every achingly sad lyric. That’s selfish, I realize this. Maybe I don’t want to admit that there are real people – flawed people – somewhere inside the image of them I’ve built up in my head.

The love of music, the way it can soothe away the pain or let you wallow in it for a bit, is not something that’s easily described or translated or explained to someone that doesn’t derive the same pleasure, the same pain, from it. Almond did about the best one can do to attempt that peek inside of the mind of a true music lover, while never taking it or himself too seriously.

The lists scattered throughout the book were a nice little break between sections, adding the right amount of humor needed (Music’s Biggest Assholes being my fave).

If you love music, or have ever thrown a cd that didn’t belong to you out a car window because it was just that bad (guilty as charged, I should apologize for that), then this is quick and easy read you’ll likely enjoy.

“And I hope they feel as I do – a bursting gratitude for those musicians brave enough to speak the first and final language of our hearts.” 

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