Posts from the ‘Books’ Category

Book Revue – Does The Sound In My Head Bother You – Steven Tyler

Aerosmith - Steven_Tyler

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I have just finished Steven Tyler’s autobiography and am still a bit unsure of what to make of it all. Problem is that Steven tends to be all over the place with his writing, although once you get over that, and his constant use of the ‘f’ word, this book proves to be an interesting read.

This is a book full of sex, drugs and even a little rock ‘n’ roll, as Steven recounts his life’s’ story. There is a lot of talk about drugs, and Steven is open and honest about his stints in rehab and his many attempts, successes and failures to get himself clean. The drug talk is very frank and open, although I’m not sure whether he fully understands the gravity of his drug problem.

Steven also talks a lot about sex in his book, and about his many infidelities and sexual conquests. Again he is quite open about this and about his inability to understand why his wives and girlfriends have not been able to accept this part of his rock n roll lifestyle.

Perhaps the bits of the book that I enjoyed the most are when he talks about his music and his band Aerosmith, as well as the relationship he has with the other half of the Toxic Twins, guitarist Joe Perry. Steven gives a very good insight into the songwriting process and the chemistry that is needed to be a part of a successful band. It’s obvious that even when the band was disintegrating in the early 80s, to more recent times when Aerosmith has tried to replace Tyler as lead singer due to his inability to remain clean, that there has still been a chemistry and camaraderie within Aerosmith. As Tyler says, Aerosmith are his ‘other’ family and Joe Perry is his soul mate and brother.

One thing that struck me is that despite the fame, sex, drugs and rock n roll, Steven Tyler is a lot like me. Offstage, when he is not playing the rock star, he is shy and reserved and a very thoughtful and caring person who wonders about the mysteries of the world. He has a great curiosity about things. He also seems like the type of person who despite his fame is quite accepting of people from all walks of life. You often hear about famous people who are assholes, but Steven sounds like the type of person who would be anything but arrogant and would be enjoyable company.

I do recommend this book if you are a fan of Aerosmith and yo want to know the ups and downs of America‘s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band and their charismatic lead singer. However if you have discovered Steven Tyler more recently as the crazy old man whose a judge on American Idol I would avoid this, as his life has been anything but wholsome and you will be shocked.

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Crashed and Byrned – by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes

Crashed and Byrned – The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes

I just finished reading this great autobiography by former Irish racing driver Tommy Byrne. He is someone who I had heard a little bit about, mostly through reading about his incredible Formula Ford and Formula 3 results in the early 80s, but I never had any idea of who he was. I remember telling myself quite often when I flicked through my tome of Motor Racing Results, whatever happened to that Tommy Byrne guy and why didn’t he ever make it in Formula 1. The answer to that question is in this book.

Upon reading the first half of the book I came to the conclusion that Byrne was one of the most arrogant pricks on the planet. Racing drivers are supposed to be self-confident and even quite narcissistic, yet Byrne seemed to take this to another level. He would talk about how he thought that at the time he was the best racing driver in the world and whilst I agree that he probably had more natural talent and ability than any other Formula 1 driver at that time, ultimately it all ended up as wasted potential. Hearing him talk about getting angry when Jackie Stewart came up to give him some advice, when he was started out in F1 with the Theodore team. In the early 80s Jackie was still the F1 wins record holder and someone who had a reputation as being one of the best communicators on the art of driving a racing car ever, yet Byrne fobbed him off with an attitude that he didn’t need anyone to tell him how to drive. This is the ultimate in arrogance.

Byrne also seemed to have a giant-sized chip on his shoulders. He always seemed to bring up his working class, poverty-stricken, Irish background as a reason why he did not make it in F1, yet I believe that his arrogance and ultimate lack of desire (I suppose) to be a F1 driver at all costs, is what did him in. After just one test with McLaren, where he blew away Thierry Boutsen, Byrne gave up his F1 quest, believing that because Ron Dennis did not like him he would never have a chance in F1. (He put all of his eggs in the one McLaren basket!)

The second half of the book, where Tommy realises that his F1 dream has vanished, he is transformed into a different guy. He still has some arrogance about him, yet seems much more humble. It is in the second half of the book where he talks about his time in America and Mexico, where he becomes a lot more likable. Some of the stories here he tells are quite amusing. He also gives little insights into the personalities of other racing drivers such as Gerhard Berger, Raul Boesel, Roberto Moreno, Ayrton Senna and Giovanna Amati.

Overall it is a great book that gives a bit of insight into the world of F1 in the early 80s, as motor racing in general, especially the American scene. Byrne’s transformation is interesting but one wonders what would have happened if he ever got behind the wheel of a competitive F1 car.

Reading

Whilst ‘P’ is away I have planned a lot of reading for myself to do, otherwise I will just get bored and waste time on Facebook or get myself outraged by reading the warped views of Andrew Bolt and his loyal goons readers. Here is just some of the reading that I have planned for myself.

Crashed and Byrned – The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw, by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes.

I picked this book up for just $5 a couple of weeks ago. It had been previously recommended to be by Everso Biggyballies at the Australian Autosport Community message board. I have started to read it and can see just how talented Irishman Byrne was as a racing driver, but the guy’s ego is out of control, even for a racing driver, and he seems like an arrogant prick with a huge chip on his shoulders. I can see why he never made it big in Formula 1 even if he can’t. So far I have only read up to the part where he decided to give up motor racing for drink and drugs.

Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler.

I am a big Aerosmith fan and love reading rock ‘n’ roll biographies. I have read a few excerpts of this is various magazines and newspapers and am very interested in knowing about the various excesses that Steven has experienced. From what I have read just by flicking through the book, he tells a little bit about the process that Aerosmith uses when writing songs. I guess there will also be mention of sex and drugs and all the other things we associate with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. I bought this yesterday from Target for $22.

Life by Keith Richards

Ronnie by Ronnie Wood

I have two books on order from Amazon. Both books I have read bits and pieces of in the shops, but never the complete books from start to finish. Both books are by members of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, The Rolling Stones. These books are Life by Keith Richards and Ronnie by Ronnie Wood. Currently Borders in Melbourne Central, which is going out of business very soon, has Life on sale for $30, which is 40% off their rrp of $50. Both Life and Woody have cost me just $25 from Amazon. Add the shipping fee of $13 and you can clearly see why I chose to buy from here. Of course Borders and other retailers in Australia like Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman will call me un-Australian and say it’s unfair because I don’t pay the 10% GST when I buy from Amazon, yet if the book was just 10% more expensive at a local bookseller I would have no qualms about buying it there. I am one of those impatient people who like to have an item in my hands as soon as I have bought it and don’t like to wait. Paying just 10% does not bother me, as this would probably just be the cost of shipping anyway. But of course we do pay much more than 10% more than Amazon when we buy something in Australia. Mmm, how did this turn into a rant about the price of books in Australia? Anyway, from the little I have read these are very good, interesting books.

Not everything I have planned to read is autobiographies. I have a number of Penguin Classics that I have bought over the last few months that I really should start reading. I’m not someone who’s big on fiction for some reason, although last year I read a couple of books by Jules Verne (Around The World In 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) and I thought that I would get some more. With the release of a number of Penguin Classics with a rrp of just $10 (20% cheaper in Target and Kmart if they stock them) I thought I would buy a few. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan is the book which the Hitchcock film is based off. I have read the first two chapters and can say that it is very exciting, except that the little bit of anti-Semitism that I have seen (it’s all a big Jewish conspiracy you know?) has put me off a bit. I think that Hitchcock did a better job by replacing the Jews with Nazis as the bad guys. This is just my opinion. The War Of The Worlds by H. G. Wells. I am a sucker for science fiction. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a book ‘P’ bought at the end of last year and I have never gotten around to reading it. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. I liked the film version of this is one of Steinbeck’s most acclaimed novellas after The Grapes of Wrath. Finally I have Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift. I bought the hard cover version of this from Borders for $14.

 I do have one more book that I plan to read but unlike the others it’s not really a serious book that I need to spend hours concentrating on. Instead it’s a book I can pick up and read a little bit and put down again. That book is The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes by Jerry Beck. I guess the best way to read this is to do so whilst watching the cartoons. From what I have read it gives a very thorough insight into all the cartoons reviewed in the book although I do have one complaint, Frank Tashlin’s Puss ‘N’ Booty, which is one of my favourite cartoons, did not make the cut as one of the 100 Greatest Looney Tune cartoons. Oh well, perhaps when Jerry gets around to writing the 2nd 100 Greatest Looney Tunes it will get a mention.

This looks like a lot of reading and it is, but I have four weeks off work with nothing to do and no ‘P’ here to talk to or muck around with. I don’t really watch much TV because Australian TV is such crap, even when you add the fact that I subscribe to Foxtel there’s not much worth watching at all. (I have to get around to cancelling my subscription!) The only other option is to go out and spend (waste) money, which is something I am loath to do as I need to save up for some things.

Mr Men & Little Miss Google Doodles

Yesterday Google celebrated the 76th birthday of Mr Men and Little Miss creator Roger Hargreaves. I loved these books as a kid.