Monday, August 01, 2011

Currently Reading: Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991

Title:  Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia)
Author:  Michael Azerrad (Official Blog, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia)

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 chronicles the careers of 13 bands from this era – Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Mudhoney, and Beat Happening.  The book was inspired by a history of rock ‘n’ roll mini-series
After the Ramones/Sex Pistols era wrapped up, “it skipped and went straight from Talking Heads to Nirvana. I thought, ‘This is insane. Did I black out for 10 minutes?’
I remember watching this same mini-series and having the same reaction.  I’m nearly positive that Azerrad is referring to the 1995 PBS documentary Rock & Roll (IMDB, Amazon) but Time Warner put out The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll (CD Universe) documentary that same year.  Both were 10 parts but in episode nine (titled Punk) of the PBS documentary it does jump right from The Ramones and company to Nirvana and I remember watching that and thinking, boy they sure skipped a lot.  Thankfully Axerrad actually did something about it –
“I thought that someone should do something about this,” he said. “And I had, appropriately enough, a DIY moment and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do it.’ ”
This was an incredibly important time in American music history.  These bands forged on an arduous task of creating a network of people, record labels, clubs, record stores, and college radio shows to promote their music.  Without this network, bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Green Day never would have achieved the success that they did.  These pioneers were entrepreneurs and gave capitalism a good name (for the most part at least).  They weren’t doing it for profit or for glory but for the love of their music and art but at the same time they did their best to make a living out of it.  I was lucky enough to get to be a part of the tail end of this era and even though I didn’t get to live through most of it like Azerrad did, I got a taste and that small taste changed my life forever. 

So far I’m about 40 pages in to the book (on the chapter about Black Flag) but I can already tell that it is a masterpiece in music literature.  In fact I’ve decided to take this one a bit slow, in order to savor every page, detail, and story about one of the greatest periods in rock ‘n’ roll history.   

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