Monday, July 12, 2010

Corn Flakes with John Lennon

Music is part of me…it breathes through me…it walks with me even when I don’t consciously notice it. I don’t make music (you would not want to hear me sing :-) but it is a part of me just the same. It is, of course, the music itself…Bach or the Beatles, Coltrane or Miles or Emmylou, the Duke, the Queen, the Godfather, the King, Citizen Bob or P.E. or whomever…that informs, delights, and satisfies my soul.

That said, there are three people whose love of music helped inspire my own love of same. Two I never met, one I love more than anyone else on this planet.

The first was my mother…humming along with Johnny Mathis or the Beach Boys or Motown or whoever caught her ear and her fancy…surrounded herself with music as far back as I can remember…and, in turn, that music surrounded and comforted and thrilled me.

The second was Casey Kasem, whose warmth, sentimental dedications, fascinating trivia, and mellifluous voice kept me fine company on many a weekend hour as he counted down the American Top 40 (and I, dutifully and happily, copied the list down and kept careful track of the movement of the biggest hits of 70’s and 80’s.

And the third was Robert Hilburn, the chief rock critic of the Los Angeles Times. I read his reviews and essays and interviews with rapture and I came to find our tastes to be so similar that I sometimes bought records just because he raved about them…he never let me down. I even sent him a couple of embarrassing (now not then) fanboy letters, all of which he graciously replied to with handwritten postcards that are still among the childhood treasures I have stored in box in my mother’s house.

Hilburn’s engaging memoir, Corn Flakes with John Lennon, is a fascinating...sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, always interesting... journey through his journey through rock and roll and all of the amazing people…Elvis, Bono (who wrote the affectionate introduction), Janis, Stevie, Bruce, Michael, John and Yoko, so many others…he knew, interviewed, admired, and loved.

It’s beautifully written (the man has always had an uncanny way with words, deftly riding the line between hardnosed critic and unabashed fan and drawing us into the experience in a way that made us feel like we were his pals and he was letting us into the worlds of his heroes) and wonderfully charming and thoroughly involving.

It’s a grand ride.

Thanks again, Bob.

No comments: