Books, books galore (If you like New Order/Joy Division)

This is a strange little post regarding something that’s left me quite surprised (in a good way). I’ve always been a bookworm and stemming from that I absolutely adore a good music book. You can really gain such a deeper level of appreciation of an artist thanks to a well written book. There’s plenty I have on my want-list and there’s three upcoming books that I simply can’t wait for – two of which I only discovered were coming out yesterday! Stranger still, they concern the same musicians and are coming out in relatively close proximity. I do wonder just what that’s about.

index 3Anyway, the first release is the most publicized one of the three and I was already aware of it. Joy Division and New Order’s Bernard Sumner is releasing his memoirs entitled Chapter and Verse – New Order, Joy Division and Me. We’ve obviously had Peter Hook recounting at least part of the story with his fascinating Joy Division memoirs and comparing the two accounts will be very interesting. Bernard never has come across as particularly open in interviews to me and I’m sure there’s going to be many interesting stories in his memoirs. The New Order section in particular should prove especially intriguing. I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about working with Johnny Marr as Electronic too. It’ll be a must read for Joy Division/New Order fans.

The second one is something that a friend of mine stumbled upon yesterday whilst index 2pricing Bernard’s autobiography online. I’m a big fan of the Manchester music scene in general and Kevin Cummins has taken some absolutely magnificent pictures that capture the development of that scene like no other. In 2010 he published an absolutely beautiful book on Joy Division which features many of the most iconic pictures taken of the band. He continued that relationship as Joy Division developed into New Order and he photographed them right up until their initial 1993 split. Quite simply, he has a wealth of pictures at his disposal. More than enough to create a lovely sequel to his Joy Division book and on March 31st 2015, that’s exactly what’s going to be published. Just in time for my 21st birthday….

indexLastly is the book that I’m most surprised about. Again, I only found it by chance online. On October 16th of this year So This is Permanence: Lyrics and Notebooks will be released. It’s the writings/lyrics of Ian Curtis, complete with a foreword by his widow Deborah. Some previously unpublished and incomplete lyrics featured in Deborah’s memoir. I’m surprised there’s anything at all new left to publish really. From what I can gather this will be a complete compendium of lyrics, both released and unreleased. I do wonder if there’s any other sort of writings in those notebooks too? They’ll be presented in a facsimile style, much like how Kurt Cobain’s notebooks were done for Journals. Of course, this will ignite debates about the ethics of publishing material that is fair to say was private and never intended for public eyes. Ultimately I think it boils down to the individual fan to make their choice. The life and death of Ian Curtis is a compelling subject and I’ll definitely be wanting a copy – and I also fully respect the choice of those who don’t feel it’s an appropriate purchase. That’s my two cents.

So, that’s my thoughts and musings about these upcoming books. I just hope that there’s going to be a good New Order documentary at some point as well. Mind you, I don’t think it’s all that likely given the relationship between Peter Hook and the current lineup. Whatever happens on that front, I’m most excited that we’ll gain more insight into this compelling tale with these three books!

Why We Should Cherish Our Heroes

Davidbowie2With the sad news of Lou Reed’s passing nearly a week ago, it’s got me thinking. Thinking and reflecting about the most morbid of subjects. Death. More specifically: death in the music industry.

Lou Reed passed away at 71. No short life by any stretch of the imagination. It’s made me think though of other musical legends at a similar age though. People like David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan amongst many others. They all belong in the same age bracket. Lou Reed’s relatively unexpected passing just reminded me of a pretty horrible thought. That sadly, legends such as those that I’ve mentioned are now at the point in their lives were we can no longer take their continuing presence for granted. Of course you can never take life for granted really, but that’s especially the case the longer you live. After all – death is the only true certainty in life. It makes you think, doesn’t it?

Then to balance that, it made me think of artists that didn’t have the luxury of even living 71 years. My record collection is dominated by artists who died far too soon. People like Ian Curtis, Joe Strummer, Kurt Cobain etc. Everyday I’ve spent listening to their records, I’ve done so with the full knowledge that I will never hear a new record from them again. In the case of Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain I’ll never have the chance to even share the earth with them – they died before I was born.  Joe Strummer died when I was eight. Obviously I was far too young for The Clash at that age. With these three men it feels like a waste. Their bodies of work speak for themselves in terms of quality, but I can’t help but feel that should they have lived longer more excellent music was coming. Especially for Ian Curtis – I can’t help but feel we may have not even seen the best Joy Division album. An alarming thought for sure given how excellent Unknown Pleasures and Closer are. Sadly though we will never know if the best was yet to come. joe-strummer-railway-bw-9710

This is all a bit of a stream of thoughts, but it’s a subject that really has featured on my mind this week. This week, I was sure to be grateful to have the chance to read new announcements from David Bowie regarding The Next Day Extra. Not a huge thing I know, but it’s something I can’t say I can ever expect from Joe Strummer. It’s sad, but that’s just the way things are. His death won’t detract from my enjoyment of his work though, and he’ll continue to have significant importance in my life. His death has no barring on that.

I guess I’m trying to explain two things here. That it’s imperative we cherish the legends whilst we have them. It’s brilliant to see legends like Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon etc still releasing music and still reminding the world why they rightly deserve to be seen as the giants that they are. long may they continue to do so.  However there will come the inevitable time where that won’t be the case, and we’ll have to bid farewell to them. Although – and this is my second point – we can take comfort in the fact that their records won’t die. And for those that have died too soon, let’s be thankful for the music they gave us in their all too brief lives. All in all, let’s be thankful. In the wake of Lou Reed’s death, I for one will be sure to be thankful that David Bowie, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen are still around just that little bit more.