Growing up, Steve Almond ’88 secretly desired to live the life of a rock star but after taking piano lessons he realized he had no musical talent. Though he didn’t become a musician, he became the next best thing: an obsessive music fan, particularly of rock and roll—or what he calls “a drooling fanatic.”
Almond’s new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life (Random House), recounts his love for music from his earliest rock criticism to his devotion to obscure bands to his meeting with Erin, a former heavy-metal “chick” who became his wife. As he has shown in his essays, fiction, and best-selling nonfiction book Candyfreak, Almond is a highly entertaining and very funny writer. This time, he shares his interviews with some of America’s finest songwriters, a recap of visiting Graceland stoned, an examination of why depression songs can make us feel better, a reluctant exegesis of the song “Africa” by Toto, and much more.
Almond also offers his readers a free soundtrack mix at his web site www.stevenalmond.com.
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair interviewed the author. When asked why vinyl is so superior to digital music, Almond responded: “The sad thing is, it’s impossible to talk about anything related to music and technology anymore and not sound old. You bring up CDs and most people are like, ‘What are those?’ Pretty soon even talking about the iPod is going to be like ‘C’mon, Gramps. Get out of the basement, man. It’s 2013. Nobody listens to those anymore!’ Technology has made fogies out of everyone. But when it comes to LPs, I think the real complaint from purists is that we don’t listen to music in the same way anymore. I remember listening to Songs in the Key of Life or Mind Games, whatever it was, while sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room and reading the lyrics from the album sleeve and just being immersed in those songs. There wasn’t any other narrative going on. It was just me and whatever the music was making me feel, period.”