The Storyteller’s Story: Testimony: A Memoir by Robbie Robertson

The Storyteller’s Story: Testimony: A Memoir by Robbie Robertson

“He got what he wanted but he lost what he had.” Rock writer Greil Marcus, aficionado-scholar of American music, cultural history, and of The Band, uses this Little Richard quote as a jumping off point to tell the story of American rock ‘n’ roll music in his 1975 work Mystery Train.

Little Richard’s line is the quintessential punishment that often seems to accompany American success stories, like those of Jay Gatsby or Charles Foster Kane. It doesn’t seem to apply to that of Robbie Robertson however, co-founder, main songwriter, and lead guitarist of The Band. (Robertson is Canadian after all.) From a reading of his recently released autobiographical work Testimony: A Memoir, one can conclude that Robertson got a great deal of what he worked for and managed to not lose everything that he began with.

Derailed, Sooner or Later: Warren Zevon’s Warren Zevon (1976)

Derailed, Sooner or Later: Warren Zevon’s Warren Zevon (1976)

This is the material world and if one vice doesn’t do you in, another one surely will.  If nothing else, there is the obvious and ongoing erosion of each present self, the sly voice within us that lurks beneath the most laudatory of our triumphs.  Mortality renders the measurability of our accomplishments to be largely at our own discretion.  Sometimes this reaches us during the overwhelming silence of 3AM insomnia, sometimes during the most blissed-out of moments, when we’re trying our hardest to keep this knowledge at bay.

HALF AN INCH OF WATER by Percival Everett

Nearly all of the characters featured in Percival Everett’s new short story collection, Half an Inch of Water (Graywolf Press), are in various states of emotional or psychological agitation. They cannot be still inside of any single moment for very long. The nine stories in this new collection all take place, as is usually the case for Everett’s fiction, in the erican West of today. This West is not mythologized and looks nothing like the Hollywood West of John Ford and John Wayne. Though rather than replace this version with a gritty and overly harshened Real West, Everett colors his fictional landscape with the objectivity and indifference of Nature. 

Another Top 10 list? The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus

“The story we’re telling is about imprisonment, but the music we’re making is about freedom, the tiny moments of freedom you steal from a life you don’t own, that doesn’t belong to you, that you have to live.”