Book Review: The Show I’ll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience by Sean Manning

The Show I’ll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience

50 Shows…

I wanted to love this book. So so badly. The concept? I wanted to take it out on a backroad and do bad things to it in the backseat, I loved it that much.  That’s why it pains me a little to give three stars.

I’m a music junky and there is little I find more cathartic than going to a live show with 500 or 20,000 of my closest friends. Throwing your hands above your head, singing as loud as you can and losing yourself somewhere between the music and the lyric, your blood vibrates. Concerts are able to move me.  It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a religious experience.

I wanted this book to be about THAT. Some of the essays tried to be that. This quote in particular struck a chord:

 If music was a way to discover something greater than me…I wanted it, I wanted the intoxication that music might bring. 

I wanted more of that. Sadly I didn’t often get it. Maybe that’s my fault. In fact, I’m sure it was my own expectation that was to blame for my feeling of ‘meh’ toward the whole thing. The fact that half of them contained the words “I don’t even remember the show” is more than disappointing. Reliving the events around the show was probably great fun for each of the authors. We all love to wax nostalgic from time to time. But that’s not what the book is marketed to be. The show, in my humble opinion, should’ve played SOME part to be included in a title called “The Show I’ll Never Forget.” It’s not “A Crazy Night in the  Early 80s I’ll Never Forget and There May Have Been a Band Involved At Some Point.”

I wanted to scream “this! This is what I’ve been trying to explain to my family! This is it! This is what I’ve been trying to say!”  It didn’t deliver. Again, the fault of expectation, I’m sure.

If you’re like me and you’re looking for someone to put into words what you’ve been longing to express, try Steve Almond’s Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life . It’s the better book. By far.

Other bits I liked from this selection:

“For a while there, music seemed like one of the best reasons to be alive.”

“We experience music and can’t  help but misread it, then we write about it or make it our own.”

“There’s something about trying to describe music – and what it does to you – that’s like listening to somebody else describe their dreams.. You can see how important it was to them but you can’t feel it. When music is great it lifts you up and out of yourself, whatever part of yourself wants to explain things, leaves you quiet in the quiet parts and loud in the loud parts, moving your body in time to the music and in time to the other bodies all around you.”

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