The Storyteller (Hardcover, 2021, Dey Street Books) 4 stars

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities ("It's a …

Review of 'The Storyteller' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Oh rock (auto)biographies, I thought I broke it off with you. “I want to read more intellectually challenging material” I said to myself. ”I need to grow and change as a reader, as a person”. “All these rock (auto)biographies are the same, I’m done.” I asserted. But, rock (auto)biography, it seems I just can’t quit you. I saw this at the library and, I know, I know, I should have just walked on by. But no, I picked it up and read the inside flap and Dave Grohl said something like “I measure my life in musical increments” and I thought “So do I! I do that too!” so against my better judgment, not being a particular fan of Dave Grohl’s music, I took this book home with me.

The book is not bad. It’s just not the book I wanted to read. I thought Dave Grohl was going to tell us about the soundtrack to his life. And perhaps he did, but not in the way I wanted him to. I thought he would tell us about what song was popular the first time he kissed a girl. Or what song was playing the first time he got stoned off his ass on pot. I mean I’ll never forget that stuff. Playing spin the bottle in Patty H’s garage the summer I was 11 with Patty and Debbie and Donna and Christy and Joey and Timmy and Danny and Mike Z. Soundtrack, Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings or maybe Getting Stronger Every Day by Chicago. Or the time the older Johnny Tomzak invited Mary B and me to drive around in a raging snowstorm and smoke some “panama red”. I’ll never forget, we smoked it in a pipe. A pipe! Wasn’t that what old grandpa men smoked? What the hell? I don’t know how to smoke a pipe! But smoke it we did and I got so wasted I melted into the backseat. I’ll never forget, we were listening to Led Zeppelin’s first album and the windshield wipers were perfectly keeping time with the songs as the car fishtailed left and then right in the snow. Looking out the backseat passenger window at all the snow piled up and people scurrying around like ants diligently shoveling in front of their houses, moving piles of snow from here to there and stacking kitchen chairs and saw-horses in the street to save the parking space as is done in a Chicagoland winter and me, looking out at this scene thinking “Why does everything seem so weird? Is this how it always is?” Everything looked fake like it was in a cartoon or on a movie screen or the wrong size somehow. Then Dazed and Confused started and that diabolical descending riff sent me spiraling straight down below, where, I was just assured, the soul of a woman was created, into an obsession with Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page that I never quite shook even to this day.

Or listening to Neil Young’s Heart of Gold album, driving around with my then boyfriend, future first husband stoned on too many valium and pot and him crashing his car, a harbinger, unfortunately ignored, of many future events in the next few years. Or the first summer with my now husband listening to records blasting out of a guitar amp. Songs like Robert Palmer’s “Sneaking thru the Alley with Sally” can take me right back to that time, how wonderous to be young and in love again after my disasterous first marriage. Or hearing, yes, “Smells like Teen Spirit” on Mtv when my new baby was about 1 years old and thinking “What is THAT?!” It immediately got my attention, that “Hello, hello how low?” and going out soon after to buy the record. Alternative music became the soundtrack to my youngest son’s formative years through the ‘90s and aughts. All the grunge bands out of Seattle and Allanis Morrisette and Smashing Pumpkins and on and on. My young son dancing in the living room, when he thought no one was watching, shaking his ass to “I Want to Fuck You Like an Animal” by NIN and me laughing my ass off. Or when he was in his early teens and getting into being in a band, they fashioned themselves after The Misfits and “Last Caress” was their anthem. Today, listening to Stoned Temple Pilot’s “Interstate Love Song” makes me think of summertime and just gives me a feeling of sunshine and comfort and everything being right in the world and I wasn’t even a particular fan of the band. Or Sublime’s “Summertime and the living’s easy.” You’re damn right. My son bought that record when he was 8 years old.

The time in my mid 40s, mid 40s! listening to the fever dream of Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta while in a real fever dream, being sick with the flu, and losing my mind for many years, falling down a rabbithole of The Mars Volta forums and record leaks and concerts. I mean, I was an old lady or at least older middle aged by then to go so absolutely gaga over a band. Standing in a line that snaked around to the alley at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago waiting for the doors to open. Listening to The Mars Volta soundcheck “Day of the Baphomets” when the sky grew scary black and the ominous wail of tornado sirens started going off all around the city like the end of the world. Standing there with nowhere to go, we had taken the train into the city and a taxi to the venue, when a great gust of wind unleashed a sideways sheet of rain upon the crowd and I’ll never forget the screams of the girls as that deluge of rain soaked us to the bone. When they finally opened the doors, me, somehow losing my ticket, emptying my purse in the vestibule in a panic, soaking wet, hair dripping, searching, searching. Buying my son and his friend concert t-shirts so they had something dry to wear once we finally made it into the venue. That was the best concert EVER, epic even, and worth the soaking we all endured that day. They opened with Interstellar Overdrive by Pink Floyd and played a song never heard before “Rapidfire Tollbooth” off their upcoming new album, omg.

That is the soundtrack to (some of) my life, I can go on and on. That’s what I wanted Dave Grohl to write about; vignettes from his life and the accompanying musical soundtrack. And like I said, maybe he did in his own disjointed way, showcasing his own music, naturally. I don’t know, but it wasn’t the book I wanted to read. It was far too sanitized for my tastes; sort of how I think about The Foo Fighters music. Way too poppy and bubblegummy sweet. I need the bitterness of disonance and feedback freakouts and off the wall lyrics about worms crawling out your mouth and out your eyelids to thrill this jaded and stone encased heart.

Anyway, yeah, 3 stars. If you’re a fan, you’ll like it. Dave Grohl seems like a good guy, a real sweetheart. Maybe this will be my last rock biography. Then again, maybe not.