Friday, August 17, 2012

BC2012: Live Fast, Die Young: Misadventures in Rock 'N' Roll America

Sometimes a book practically jumps off the shelf. When I saw this title at Half Price Books in Highland Park last month, I knew I'd like it before I even cracked it open for a preview. I love rock & roll road trips.

This book by Chris Price and Joe Harland, two Brits around my age, chronicles a quest in honor of country rock legend Gram Parsons' 60th birthday. It's written as a dialogue that covers all aspects of the journey, from what they see and who they meet to the inevitable interpersonal challenges.*

Though there is a fair amount about Parsons in the book, any music fan should enjoy it because the pair visit plenty of other places as well. A series of chance connections even leads them to hallowed musical ground, Johnny Cash's cabin where he made his last recordings with Rick Rubin. And they meet characters like Phil "Road Mangler" Kaufman, a man whose resume is about as "rock and roll" as it gets. Seriously, check it out. He is also the guy who showed up at LAX with a hearse in September 1973 and stole Gram Parsons' body, which he burned in the desert as the deceased had requested.

Live Fast, Die Young is an entertaining, educational, and just plain fun book. It never ceases to amaze me how many Europeans have a greater knowledge of and respect for American music, particularly country and blues, than most Americans do.

* This is why I've taken so many of my own journeys alone.

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