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Review Mon Apr 14 2008

Review: The Boy Who Cried Freebird

Chicago native Mitch Myers' The Boy Who Cried Freebird (Harper, recently released in paperback) is a collection of stories and anecdotes that fill between barely a page to more than twenty. Longer pieces range from excellent backgrounds on Tex-Mex pioneer Doug Sahm and free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler to Myers' literary personality, Adam Coil, traveling in time for the Grateful Dead. The shorter ones include bits about a rock critic and his wife quarreling over Captain Beefheart (What couple couldn't relate to that?!), Alejandro Escovedo at SXSW, getting high while listening to high-end stereos and Adam Coil daydreaming in an unfortunate place.

In an amusing story about analog versions of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" being the only antidote to an alien invasion, the idea of one song literally saving the world is focal. (Not to be lost is the irony of a song called "Paranoid" alleviating paranoia.) It's hard for a reader to not try to think of the last time one song had such wide appeal. And in a Western Avenue-related story, Myers writes about being pulled over while rocking out and the ensuing conversation with the police officer who correctly guessed what song Myers was listening to while he sped.

At times it seems like Freebird is Myers mimicking Contiuum's 33 1/3 series, especially with the loads of information about Aretha Live at Fillmore West and Metal Machine Music or when personalizing Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). When he analyzes the differences between classics and anthems or transcribes a sarcastic phone call from Steve Albini's mother, his passion comes through in spades. He's a fan's fan in the same way that Sahm and Escovedo are portrayed as musician's musicians. Rarely does he come across as a typical music essayist and often he elicits a few laughs. The pacing allows for this book to be perfect for when you have just five minutes to kill, but that may lead to much more than five minutes with it.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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