Things the Grandchildren Should Know, Mark Oliver Everett
Read: 7 December to 11 December 2010
5 / 5 stars
This is what every memoir should aspire to be.
started listening to the Eels in high school. I haven’t devoured their
tunes as actively as I used to in the past few years (even if Blinking
Lights and Other Revelations was the best five dollars I’ve ever
spent); that being said, I didn’t even make it halfway through this book
without launching a massive attack on iTunes to download whatever
albums of Mr. E’s I didn’t already own.
This book satisfied me
in so many ways as a reader, as a music lover and as a fan of the
author. Aside from enjoying the weirdly satisfying progression of E as
an artist and watching his musical career blossom, I found myself
undeniably drawn to his personality. I kept thinking that he seems like
the kind of guy who deserves every ounce of fame he’s garnered over the
course of his wobbly career. And I wanted to feel like less of a dick
for dismissing albums like Shootenanny! and Souljacker, especially
now that I understand their place against the landscape of the artist’s
life (and the two albums most definitely deserved a second chance).
never really considered the origins of or stories behind so many of the
Eels tunes I’ve loved for years. Knowing what was going on in E’s life
and what inspired him to write the kind of songs he did made me wish
there were more musicians who posses his integrity and raw passion. His
love of music most assuredly intensified mine.
For all the awful,
heart-wrenching tragedies that have befallen a single man, E maintains
an outlook that is admirably devoid of self pity’s trappings while
embracing a searing truthfulness that’s only made more enjoyable by his
knack for humorous observation and witty phrasing, all of which balances out the not-always-perfect writing more than adequately enough for me. There isn’t a drop of
bullshit to be found in these 256 pages, which is remarkable for such a
poignantly honest look inward. E displays his reactions, thoughts,
feelings, perspective and aspirations with a refreshingly
The bonus of E’s encounters with a
plethora of other musical artists I love – Elliott Smith, most
significantly – and his eclectic range of creative influences is a
delight for the music lover in me. He loves so many of the same bands I
do, he attended concerts I only wish I’d been alive to see, he respects
so many of the musical acts (both past and current) that I just adore.
Finding out that I share so many of the same tastes with this alt-rock
star just made the reading experience all the more personal.
journey of self-discovery that’s at the heart of this book, just like
the song with which it shares a title, is what every terrified loner
needs to experience. Knowing that someone has had so many of the
unnervingly similar thoughts, fears and dreams as I have, and knowing
that the someone in question has triumphed so very impressively in the
face of things that would strike down a lesser individual, instilled in
me a sense of hope and companionship that I have never found in any of
the hundreds of other books I’ve read.
I couldn’t help but like
Mr. E more and more with every page. And I am more convinced than ever
that the man is nothing short of a national treasure.