Being John Lennon: A Restless Life by Ray Connolly review – just a complicated guy

A fascinating new biography by a journalist who knew Lennon in the 60s and 70s captures his contradictory traits

There are several “definitive” biographies of John Lennon, and even more tomes claiming to provide the ultimate lowdown on the Beatles’ well-documented career. The first volume of Mark Lewisohn’s projected trilogy on the Fabs alone runs to more than 900 pages. In addition come scores of memoirs by friends, associates and exes, and explorations of every episode and facet you care to name – the Beatles and religion, when the Beatles met Elvis, the FBI and John Lennon – and even the odd critique of their music. What’s left to add?

A veteran journalist and screenwriter (That’ll Be the Day, Stardust), Ray Connolly lays no claim to fresh revelations about the life of the group’s self-styled leader, instead offering insights into Lennon’s complex, contradictory character. He’s well qualified, ...

Gary Barlow opens up about his weight issues and daughter’s death

Singer reveals how he became ‘unrecognisable’ after putting on weight when Take That split

Gary Barlow did not leave his house for about six months in the years after Take That broke up and his weight rose to 109kg (17st 2lbs).

The singer spoke emotionally at the Cheltenham literature festival of how good it was that the tide was turning and men could now openly discuss their problems. He also spoke movingly about the death of his daughter, in 2012, in the hope it would help others.

Continue reading...

Gary Barlow opens up about his weight issues and daughter’s death

Singer reveals how he became ‘unrecognisable’ after putting on weight when Take That split

Gary Barlow did not leave his house for about six months in the years after Take That broke up and his weight rose to 109kg (17st 2lbs).

The singer spoke emotionally at the Cheltenham literature festival of how good it was that the tide was turning and men could now openly discuss their problems. He also spoke movingly about the death of his daughter, in 2012, in the hope it would help others.

Continue reading...

Watch the Outlander Season 4 Opening Credits

Outlander season 4 opening credits theme song opening titles Bear McCreary Raya Yarbrough

Starz screened the first episode of Outlander season 4 at NYCC, a full month ahead of its premiere—a delight for the fans attending, but that will make the Droughtlander even longer for those still waiting. We’ll have more on soon (spoiler: it’s GREAT), but in the meantime, Starz has soothed the burn somewhat by releasing the brand-new opening titles for season 4! As you know, this is very much my jam, and the new titles for Claire and Jamie’s adventures in the New World do not disappoint.

As the action at the season’s start takes place in North Carolina, a certain instrument became the backbone of the new credits. Watch and see if you can catch it:

“We fiddled with it,” executive producer Maril Davis punned at the NYCC panel. This might be the biggest departure from the original credits, what with the portions where Raya Yarbrough draws out ...

😉
🐻
🎶

Romance, regrets and notebooks in the freezer: Leonard Cohen’s son on his father’s final poems

Almost two years after the musician and poet’s death, Adam Cohen explains how his father’s efforts to finish his last collection The Flame ‘bought him some time on Earth’

  • Exclusive: read three poems from The Flame below

Was he, in the end, a musician or a poet? A grave philosopher or a grim sort of comedian? A cosmopolitan lady’s man or a profound, ascetic seeker? Jew or Buddhist? Hedonist or hermit? Across his 82 years, the Montreal-born Leonard Cohen was all of these things – and in his posthumous book of poetry, given the Lawrentian title The Flame by his son Adam, all sides of the man are present.

Other than that, Adam Cohen won’t say much more. “This was all private,” he says, sitting in an office on Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard, near the house where his dad passed away after a late-night fall almost two years ago. “My ...

Paul McCartney announces picture book, Hey Grandude

Set for a 2019 release, the former Beatle said his book about a magical grandfather is written for ‘for grandparents everywhere’

Following in the footsteps of fellow children’s book luminaries Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Madonna, Paul McCartney is to write his own picture book.

Hey Grandude follows an elderly, magical gentleman called Grandude – who “represents grandfathers everywhere”, according to McCartney – and his adventures with his four grandchildren.

Continue reading...

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen review – sex, self-loathing and growing up in the limelight

No detail is deemed too personal in the singer’s affecting account of her rise to fame and being constantly under scrutiny

Anyone familiar with Lily Allen’s songs will know all about her capacity for bluntness. In 2009’s “Not Fair” she grumbled about rubbish sex and being left lying in the wet patch, while in “As Long As I Got You”, an ode to new love, she sang: “Staying in with you is better than sticking things up my nose.” So it’s not surprising to find that her first memoir has a tendency towards oversharing. In recalling her childhood, her rise to fame and her travails as a pop star, daughter, wife and mother, no detail is deemed too personal.

In the introduction, Allen, 33, says she’s too young to write her entire life story; instead she’s interested in “the things in my life that changed events, upended things, upset the cart”. Her father, ...

Joy Division inspired me to write – but could I write about their music? | Sophie Mackintosh

Man Booker longlisted author Sophie Mackintosh explains how writing a short story based on Unknown Pleasures led her back to the music that made her want to be an author

Two years ago, I received an email inviting me to contribute to a short-story anthology on Joy Division. It would be a literary reimagining of their 1979 debut Unknown Pleasures – the only Joy Division album released during singer Ian Curtis’s lifetime – with each author assigned one of the songs and left free to interpret it however they liked. I was intrigued, especially when I was assigned New Dawn Fades, one of my favourites. I hadn’t listened to Unknown Pleasures properly since my difficult teenage years in the Welsh countryside, but I still remember the vertiginous feeling of hearing it for the first time and thinking, knowing, this album will change my life.

In those days, Joy Division ...

Music and Madness: Revealing Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

Rock and roll messiahs are really scary…

We’re excited to share the cover for Scotto Moore’s debut novella, Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You, a mind-melting, sardonic, gonzo trip coming in February 2019 from Tor.com Publishing!

Your Favorite Band Can’t Save You is available February 5, 2019. From the catalog copy:

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.

Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band’s fans.

A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.

Metal Never Dies: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Where to even begin? I loved this book. If you’ve ever loved any genre of music you should read it, and if you love horror you should read it, and if you’re obsessed with the plight of the American working-class you should really, really read it.

Grady Hendrix’s latest extravaganza of horror is wild and fun, genuinely terrifying in places, and also somehow heartfelt. It’s like The Stand and Our Band Could Be Your Life had the best baby (Our Stand Could Be Your Life?) and somebody slapped a Viking helmet on it and taught it to shred a guitar.

I should probably state at the outset that I am not a metalhead. I appreciate metal. I love Lord of the Rings and I like D&D and I’m a fan of Norse mythology, and as a person who tried to play guitar for about five minutes, I stand ...

Kate Bush to publish book of lyrics, introduced by David Mitchell

How to Be Invisible, a collection of lyrics from across the singer’s 40-year career, will be published in December by Faber

She is famous for incorporating the work of Emily Brontë, James Joyce and Grimm’s fairytales into her music: now Kate Bush will publish her first book, a collection of lyrics from across her 40-year career.

Faber will release How to Be Invisible: Selected Lyrics on 6 December, with a comprehensive introduction from the novelist David Mitchell. Mitchell, who has described Bush as his “hero”, wrote three spoken-word sections of Bush’s 2014 Before the Dawn performances – which marked her first live shows in 35 years.

Continue reading...

Mark Kermode: ‘There’s a magic in going on stage with a band’

The Observer film critic’s new memoir focuses on his parallel life in music. Here he talks school bands, busking and recording in Sun Studio...
• Read an extract from Mark Kermode’s memoir How Does It Feel? A Life of Musical Misadventures

You got the music bug very early…
I’ve been in bands since the year dot. When I was a kid the two things I understood were films and pop music. I remember going to a record store to buy Jealous Mind by Alvin Stardust and listening to it over and over again. Then I saw Slade in Flame – a brilliant fictional film about the rise and fall of a band who are basically Slade – and I thought, that’s it, I want to be a pop star! I didn’t have a guitar and I couldn’t play, but I spent two years at school building an electric guitar from ...

We Were Strangers: Stories Inspired By Unknown Pleasures – review

Nearly 40 years since the death of singer Ian Curtis, Joy Division still inspire, as proven by a potent collection of short stories

In his considered and heartfelt introduction to We Were Strangers, an anthology of newly commissioned short stories named after the 10 tracks on Joy Division’s debut album Unknown Pleasures, Richard V Hirst describes how Joy Division became “the means by which some dark energy first took hold of the listening consciousness”. This dark energy, entangled with the myth of Joy Division, and the suicide 38 years ago of their lead singer Ian Curtis, continues to endure and inspire, and this book is potent testament to that.

Fittingly and beautifully designed by Zoë McLean, with a nod to the original album cover, this matt-black bound collection is likely to be desired by every Joy Division fan. But for those readers who aren’t familiar with the band, these ...

We Were Strangers: Stories Inspired By Unknown Pleasures – review

Nearly 40 years since the death of singer Ian Curtis, Joy Division still inspire, as proven by a potent collection of short stories

In his considered and heartfelt introduction to We Were Strangers, an anthology of newly commissioned short stories named after the 10 tracks on Joy Division’s debut album Unknown Pleasures, Richard V Hirst describes how Joy Division became “the means by which some dark energy first took hold of the listening consciousness”. This dark energy, entangled with the myth of Joy Division, and the suicide 38 years ago of their lead singer Ian Curtis, continues to endure and inspire, and this book is potent testament to that.

Fittingly and beautifully designed by Zoë McLean, with a nod to the original album cover, this matt-black bound collection is likely to be desired by every Joy Division fan. But for those readers who aren’t familiar with the band, these ...

We Sold Our Souls

In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success—but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in obscurity.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western—she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when a shocking act of violence turns her life upside down, and she begins to suspect that Terry sabotaged more than just the band.

Kris hits the road, hoping to reunite with the rest of her bandmates and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a music festival from hell. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, Grady Hendrix’s We Sold Our Souls is an ...

UK festival directors demand end to ‘overly complex’ visa process

Leading figures from arts, music and culture call for government reforms

Directors of some of Britain’s biggest festivals have signed a letter calling for the government to make its “overly complex” visa application process more transparent, after a surge in refusals and complications for authors, artists and musicians invited to perform in the UK.

Related: Visa refusals starve UK’s arts festivals of world talent | Letters

Continue reading...

Siren Song by Seymour Stein review – memories of Talking Heads, Madonna and the Ramones

‘America’s greatest living record man’, who also brought the Smiths to the US, recalls hard living and spotting the right song

On a New York City night in late summer, 1976, three former art students were playing at a club called Max’s Kansas City. Observing them from a ringside table were a couple who looked a little older than most of the club’s clientele, and a lot less cool. But there they sat, front and centre, staring at the stage with encouraging smiles, gazing in particular at the singer, a thin, twitchy figure who, in his polo shirt and conservative haircut, looked more like a CIA intern than your standard rock and roller. Although none of the band’s repertoire of original compositions had yet been recorded, the couple’s lips moved in unison as they sang along to the words of every song, the most striking of which started like this: ...

Clipping’s Hugo-Nominated Song “The Deep” to Become Afrofuturist Novel from Saga Press

Clipping "The Deep" book Rivers Solomon Saga Press Afrofuturism

Saga Press announced today that it would publish The Deep, an Afrofuturist novel based on the song of the same name by rap group Clipping (often stylized as clipping.) which includes Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. Nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form, “The Deep” envisions an underwater culture of the descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slavers. Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts and a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, will write the novel, to be published in June 2019.

Simon & Schuster’s official announcement describes the plot of The Deep:

The Deep is the story of Yetu, who holds the memories for her people—the water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slavers. Her people live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic ...

The Hard Stuff by Wayne Kramer review – portrait of a self-saboteur

He implausibly defied drugs, detention and death – now the MC5 maverick delivers an equally uncompromising memoir

The MC5 were never a famous band, merely a legendary one. The Clash wrote a song about their lead guitarist and ideologue, Wayne Kramer, called Jail Guitar Doors. Another generation of LA punks resuscitated his career in the mid-90s. A carousel of well-known musicians routinely fills in for departed MC5 band members whenever Kramer and co tour, which isn’t often: a 50th anniversary MC50 outing hits the UK in November.

Really, though, Kramer – the author of this eye-opening memoir – should be dead, several times over. He might still be in prison, had he murdered the guy he shot at for abducting his girlfriend. The gun wasn’t loaded, although Kramer was.

Continue reading...

Why I’m Obsessed with the Outlander Theme Song

Outlander opening credits TV theme song Bear McCreary main title The Skye Boat Song sing me a song of a lass that is gone Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
Say, could that lass be I?

The first time I saw the opening lyrics to Outlander’s theme song posted on a friend’s Facebook post, I thought it sounded ridiculous, way too on-the-nose to start every episode by acknowledging the series’ premise. YES WE GET IT CLAIRE YOU DISAPPEARED.

That was before I actually listened to it, and watched the title sequence—and then, like Claire at Craigh na Dun, I fell hard. Now, I forbid my husband from fast-forwarding through the credits every time we watch… and considering that we’ve been bingeing a season at a time, that means I’ve got it well memorized. But why do I find this particular TV opening so compelling?

The answer, I think, is that it presses all of my nerd buttons: it’s a remix of a mashup, with an excellent invocation of Rule ...