In the early 90s I spent much of my time going to see bands like The Church, Hunters and Collectors and Crowded House. It was a very music-filled time of my life and I was even in a band for a moment myself! This book, by the lead singer of The Church, took me back to those times, and reminded me why I didn't go all out to achieve the musical dream. Living in hotels, making dodgy deals with bureaucrats, creating music that wasn't quite how it was meant to sound, are all experiences described by Steve Kilbey in this book that made me not regret my choice to be a teacher rather than a singer.
I enjoyed learning about Kilbey's childhood, his personal musical journey and his determination to write a good song after many false starts. I was sad to hear of his addiction to heroin which overtook his life and made him lose virtually everything. But I loved reading of how he came through that time and discovered he didn't have to be bombastic and arrogant to be seen as a highly intelligent musician and songwriter. While reading, I spent a lot of time popping over to YouTube to watch videos of the songs mentioned, revisiting favourites and discovering new ones, such as the music by his twin daughters, and their band, Say LouLou, and also watching his infamous Aria award speech which I had never seen before. The band's lead guitarist was obviously mortified by Kilbey's new found candour during this speech, but it was so refreshing to see Kilbey animated, passionate and not ho hum bored which is how he had always previously been in the media. It was quite a revelation!
Still, I was left a little wanting at the end of the book. To me, it felt like there were a lot of loose ends, particularly about his family life. There was a photo here and there, a comment here and there, but nothing really substantial, for example who is the mother of his younger children, and what are those kids like? Maybe I'm being too much of a busybody, but I just felt it was a bit lopsided when he talked about the achievements of his older twins and not the others. Anyway, I discovered his personal blog which has some of that detail, so if I read a bit more of that I'm sure I'll get the full picture. The blog is written in a more Kilbeyesque style too with stream of consciousness style prose and poetic musings. How I expected the book to be, really.
If you are a fan of The Church and/or Kilbey or you are a muso, you will have a blast reading this book. It is very inspiring for budding musicians and songwriters and certainly took me back to my younger days. Two weeks after reading it I am still humming Church songs.
My rating: ****