Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Book You Should Read: Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out

If you're anything like us, your bookshelf is at times an extension of your CD collection, which is to say: you like to read books about rock and roll. In "A Book You Should Read" we'll be trying to point out some of the music related books that we've truly enjoyed, and send them your way. This particular mention came to us somewhat haphazardly: we were at a friend's house (a book editor) and they had one of the pre-publication advances sitting on their shelf. We picked it up, started reading, and we just couldn't stop.

Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out
is the autobiography of legendary San Francisco rock promoter Bill Graham. It was in the midst of being created at the time of Graham's death, and as such is billed as autobiography. The structure of the book is one of the most unique we've seen: The narrative is woven almost entirely via direct quotes of Graham, his friends, and associates. One might think that this would get wordy, boring, or simply tiresome. In fact, it does quite the opposite. The quotes serve to invigorate the narrative and inject it with a fierce sense of storytelling and reality.

BGP is a must read for anyone even vaguely interested in the music world. Graham was a legend, and as such he had direct contact with the most notable performers over three decades. What's more, Graham was heavily invested in the industry side of music, and his anecdotes in that regard are equally, if not more, interesting. To hear perspective from a man who built a sound business while musicians around him were all but falling apart is really quite a fascinating read.

However, more than anything, what BGP offers up is a perspective on a man who is much respected and beloved even 17 years after his death. Bill Graham created a sense of inspiration and vitality in the music industry that has today been overshadowed by corporate interests and large conglomerates. To read this book is to understand why Graham was so beloved by musicians and employees alike, and to understand how he helped to turn the music industry into a legitimate entity that is with us to this day.