Sunday, May 23, 2004

Wreckless Entry

�In the early days of Stiff Records, Jake Riviera asked everybody what they wanted to be: rich or famous. I thought the answer was easy � I wanted to be famous because that was what was expected of me and, surely, if I had some hits, I�d be rich anyway. But �famous� was the wrong answer � Elvis Costello, for instance, said �rich�."
(Eric Goulden -- Wreckless Eric, in this article.)

I've been a Wreckless Eric fan for some unlikely amount of time, like twenty-six years. For a long time it was really hard being a Wreckless Eric fan, because I had no idea what he was doing, and suspected he had probably been eaten by weasels. Then the Internet happened, and I started discovering the various identies he'd been making music under, and buying CDs made by such Eric Goulden AKAs as The Hitsville House Band. (When she was smaller Maddy was a fan of the children's music-story Eric did with Ian Dury, Moe Tucker and others, The Slippery Ballerina, and I still like it.)

Anyway, about six months ago I bought Eric Goulden's biography "A Dysfunctional Success: The Wreckless Eric Manual (written by the author)", published by the Do Not Press, and then, because the pile of stuff to read is very high and teetering, didn't read it until yesterday, impelled by the arrival of a sort of a best-of Wreckless Eric made up from BBC sessions, Almost a Jubilee, and a conversation with a friend who interviews Eric on several of the tracks. I think I was hoping for insight into the early Stiff records days, which I didn't get. What I got was much better, and a great deal more interesting: a shambling, acutely observed, very funny-sad-true-sharp autobiography by someone who thought that music ought to be fun, and was sometimes even sober.

As the author explains, "...mostly it's about growing up - life in the sixties and seventies in suburban South East England, being an art student in the frozen North East, renting flats, forming bands, falling over and getting up again. And it isn't the story of Stiff Records though they do get a mention."

Here's an extract, from the publisher's site, for the flavour of the book:

And seeing that there's a I went and had a look around -- lots of good stuff, including occasional journal entries. So there you go. A Sunday morning book and website recommendation.