Roxanne Tellier: Every Day I Write The Book

Roxanne DBAWISSince very young, I’ve been a reader. Not just casually, as in checking out the latest Stephen King novel, or flipping through the pages of a tabloid, but a hard core, genuinely addicted, unable to live without books, reader. I’m helpless in the face of scroogeMcDuckthe printed word. My books surround me, on shelves reaching to the ceiling, in every room, on every subject. If I were a literary Scrooge McDuck, I’d be diving into a vault full of books, and rolling in vellum.

For a while I sold rare or hard to find books, which gave me license (as though I needed one) to seek out and buy books every day. I spent hours discovering strange little book shops, where I would prowl the aisles like a jungle cat, ready to pounce on any literary tidbit that I could conceivably sell to some other rabid reader or collector. After I’d first scuba diver prayerread the book myself, that is.

But it’s really difficult to part with books, I have found. Sure, I may never need to know how to deep sea dive, but in the event that I do, wouldn’t it be a disaster if I had sold or given away this guide written by PADI, the scuba experts organization?

dinosaur-eroticaAnd that’s also how I came to own a very fine collection of erotica. Although I may not currently be into S & M, one just never knows. There’s so much to learn, if one can keep an open mind.

I have books about the occult, health care, computers, bicycle repair, guns, true crime, marketing, travel, philosophy, religion, and home repair and renovation. And that’s just in my office. Other rooms hold other collections that I cannot seem to abandon.

book hoarding

Pride of place, of course, goes to my collection of books about music and the entertainment industry. I have hundreds of books; biographies, autobiographies, compendiums of facts and trivia, sheet music, lyrics, how-to guides, and historical references, not to mention a selection of very old reference guides to Musicnolifeunderstanding the nuances of classical music.

I’ve also exhausted the resources of the Toronto Public Library system, ordering and devouring hard to find, out of print, novels and histories of the famous and not so famous characters who’ve caught the public’s attention through the years.

audience with specsI’ll never lose my curiosity about the people who have been in and around musical or entertainment history, even though it seems that 95% of the males I know who picked up a microphone or a guitar, claim that they originally did so to impress the ladies. I can’t help it; I want to know what magic occurred to make a performer and his or her work important to the world.

prenatal musicThere’s a mystique about those who can bring music into life. Even fetuses in the womb hear and respond to sound … the love of music is indeed in our DNA. In every civilization, throughout history, the entertainer has held a special place in our hearts, bringing joy, light and dreams to those who listen.

Whether it’s the simplest beating on a drum, or a full orchestra, it seems we need and crave music. Without music, life is dull and grey.

Meet Me On The Corner – Lindisfarne

Even those who know how to play and perform want to study the lives and works of other performers. What made that player choose that note, or write that lyric? How did they cope, living with an artistic temperament and flights of fancy, bleak periods of famine and eventual feast, amongst their family and friends? Did they too suffer times when making music was difficult, and other times when the mere act of playing turned the worst of times into the best of times?

A Song for You – Leon Russell

al kooper bookBeyond the personal, we also want to know the technical. Scores of books have been written about the Beatles, and the wizardry of George Martin’s productions. Together they created works of art that changed how we all listened to music.  Al Kooper’s wonderful memoir is a terrific read. He shares the secrets of how classic sounds were created, and bands came together and fell apart, both in and out of the studio.

what you want is in the limoAnd then of course, there’s the prurient; tell us about the debauchery, the groupies, the crazy antics of nights after a performance, when, still high from the excitement of appearing before a large and enthusiastic audience, the only way to come down is to find some experience never felt before.

shell shockedCan talent survive the treachery and outright theft that some record companies routinely practiced in the bad old days when music moguls weaseled every penny out of an artist, and then cast them adrift? Can a performer retain a sense of humour and dignity when even their name is co-opted and owned by a label?

so you wanna beFor all those one hit wonder artists, was the aftermath worth the soaring momentary thrill? Can your pride survive having tasted fame or notoriety, and then being shunned by an audience who has moved on to some other flash in the pan?

the 27 clubWhy are some artists able to handle fame with grace, while others grow increasingly full of their own importance? What demon drives some to take their own lives, accidentally or with purpose?

hitless wonder bookWe also want to know about those who toiled in obscurity, how they handled the pain and shame of having a talent that never quite got the respect it deserved. What insanity drives a performer to work crazy hours for very little money, despite societal disdain, for years on end?

If there are answers to be found, they’re hidden in the pages of these, and so many other, fine books. We read, we learn, and we peek behind the scenes of a world most of us can only imagine. There’s magic in the music, it can set you free. Read all about it!

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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