I've never been able to work out whether being involved in making music has saved my life or ruined it. You certainly see the underbelly the longer you hang around.
I have been reading John Seabrook's The Song Machine: inside the hit factory because I run a song writing part of the music courses at the University of the East. What a depressing book. Fordism has hit (sic) the music industry big time, and song writing has become even more fragmented than it was in the Motown years, when a song would be started in Detroit and finished in Los Angeles with the session musicians never knowing who would be singing on the end product. The ghost vocalists have always been there (the older women with stronger voices who dub the tracks for the starlets to mime to), but every tiny morsel of song is now worked on by an expert in that sort of morsel. The process has been deconstructed and reconstructed to maximise revenue and control, with hip hop tracks débuted in strip bars and quality measured in millions of dollars.
On the other side of the world is Everett True's The Electrical Storm: grunge, my part in its downfall. Exquisitely illustrated, this is a book that can be read from the beginning, the middle or the end, and which documents a journey from the edges into the middle of grunge and back out again. Successful bands are here, behaving badly, just like the unsuccessful ones. Everett travels through their lives, sharing their ups and downs and creating his own pathway through the mess at the margins of the music industry. It's a downbeat, yet fascinating book to read. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. Beginning, middle end? A spiral.
I haven't been able to finish the other one.