photo by nacrowe
co-written and released around the time of his second studio album, recent departure from VELVET REVOLVER and return to STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, famed ALTERNATIVE ROCK frontman SCOTT WEILAND's memoir NOT DEAD & NOT FOR SALE (SCRIBNER, 2011) is a frustratingly clipped, half-hearted attempt at an open dialogue of a supremely gifted musician with his fans, family, critics, bandmates alike. you really get the sense that despite his charisma and gifts as one of the premier vocalists of his age, his guard was forever up, especially regarding his reasons for abusing drugs which affected his career multiple times and, ultimately, took his life.
i dont know, maybe its me but this book came out shortly thereafter his exhaustive and expensive divorce was finalized and the recent publication of that same ex-wife's tell-all book. in many ways this memoir feels like a cash grab. i say that because in this book he doesn't come off like a knowledgeable narrator of his own life since things just sorta happen. he comes off like a passive viewer, not even a participant. we formed the band. this song was about my ex-wife. this song was about heroin. nothing is ever expanded upon, just referenced or briefly mentioned. which really sucks, because he had such a unique vantage point on that era given his stature as one of its premier and most successful lyricists and vocalists, along with KURT COBAIN, CHRIS CORNELL, EDDIE VEDDER and LAYNE STALEY among others. just a shame this book wasn't more insightful. for someone that saw himself as transcending cliches, this book is one never-ending cliche. the cliche of taking advantage of your fanbase.
even the painful parts of his childhood, events such as being sexually abused and his parents divorce, just sort of happen and never inform anything later in his life, career or personal life. even the birth of his kids just happens.
deeply disappointed by this memoir and i don't recommend it at all. seems like a wasted opportunity, which probably could also be a summation of his career in general.
all that being said, i still love his first solo album 12 BAR BLUES and i highly recommend fans of classic 1990s TRIP HOP check it out.
photo by nacrowe
outside of PRINCE and maybe RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, GUNS N' ROSES is one of the best live bands i have ever witnessed. there is a looseness and sleazy groove to their sound that is very much in the best tradition of FUNK that i feel is often overlooked. makes sense because SLASH and AXL ROSE, at least on the night i saw them years ago GIANT STADIUM, where in top form and just slayed.
in his memoir IT'S SO EASY: AND OTHER LIES (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2011), GUNS N' ROSES bassist DUFF MCKAGAN recounts his career trajectory from a young SEATTLE street urchin punk kid to being a crucial member of a legendary band to battling drug abuse and gaining sobriety as well as freedom through (gasp) formal education, martial arts and rediscovering family.
it is quite the narrative arc and i want to say straight off that this is one of the better written memoirs i have read in recent memory. this shouldn't be too surprising given his columns for SEATTLE WEEKLY and PLAYBOY over the years that this debut book is recalled from. what i love most about his writing style is that it is conversational yet direct. he isn't trying to win you over with his vocabulary, although you get the sense that wouldn't be difficult for him given the depth of reflection and insight into his former selves that shared his same frame over a lifetime of interesting choices. rather than a tale of exploits, it is more a story of evolution and personal growth, as referenced in the title of a notoriously misogynistic song for which he wrote lyrics. he doesn't necessarily disown that song but acknowledges such were by a different person who wasn't then a father of two daughters. i appreciate that. that was me then, this is me now.
you really get the sense that MCKAGAN is writing this for other musicians who feel cornered into a lifestyle that isn't conducive to personal growth or (again, gasp) responsible long-term decision-making. nobody did debauchery like GUNS N' ROSES and the dude was such a notorious drinker that THE SIMPSONS named their fictional beer in his honor. think about that for a moment.
that same dude kicked his addictions and got a handle on his demons as well as his finances by pursuing a finance degree in order to better serve his fellow musicians with sound advice instead of relying on industry leeches that have sucked dry the marrow of many an artist. it is glorious to hear him speak about studying for exams backstage while on tour of soccer stadiums in SOUTH AMERICA. just a glorious juxtaposition.
even if you are not a fan of the music of GUNS N' ROSES or VELVET REVOLVER, this memoir is worth your time. it defies expectations and shows that through discipline and determination, even the most seemingly wayward souls out there can have a commanding second act.
couldn't recommend it any more forcefully.