Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke. I’m a bit of both.
Though Viv Albertine will always really be known as the guitarist of the Slits, her autobiography tells the story of the art student, boy crazy, mother, cancer survivor and the guitarist of the Slits with a sense of humour that’s really rare to find in books like this.
Sure, some people are self-deprecating (or their ghost writers are), but here Viv just lays it all out as it is. The way in which she describes even passing encounters with cute boys when she’s young seems so overly romantic it’s kind of cute (I mean, we’ve all been there). But she doesn’t sugarcoat the horrible reality of certain things, with blood being a recurring theme she refuses to shy away from.
Her musical journey is fantastic, and the era in which she thrived is iconic. To see stories and characters from another perspective is always fun.
But it’s the post-Slits chapters you really get caught up with. The marriage, the trying desperately for a baby, the cancer – it’s someone kind of laying themselves bare and it’s awful to read. But when it comes to the end of the book you’re like, Shit, she’s strong as fuck. To not only overcome everything but to be both happy and pursuing her own art again is wonderful.
Before I take a slight detour, I’ll sum up with this: Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a really good book; reading about a woman determined to succeed in a day where women didn’t really do music like she wanted to was a great read.
Which links onto the one quote of the whole book that stands out to me:
The music I was exposed to when I was growing up as revolutionary and because I grew up with music that was trying to change the world, that’s what I still expect from it.
As a music fan, this sits really weird with me because by the time I came along, it had pretty much all been done. When I first discovering my own music, it all felt revolutionary, hence why we’d all cling to that band and resort to ridiculous fashion choices to show it. And it made me think about the ridiculous over-saturation of music today, and how there’s so much that I can’t quite imagine ever having that feeling again.
I get really excited by some bands still (to the level of my teens years, which is a rarity), but will it ever really compare to the kind of feeling of those who were really around when music was different and pushing boundaries?
This sounded much better in my head, I swear. But, you know what I mean? I don’t know. I just wonder how different it would have been, and then the subsequent feeling she, and others, would face when it never really happened again.
Well, that’s my thought for the day. But back to the point: must read for music fans, and actually non-music fans. There’s more to this rock-biog than the typical sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s really good.