Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: Night Drive

Night Drive: Travels With My Brother
Garnet Rogers
Biography, music

I live in a parallel musical universe. In my universe, almost any name you're familiar with is a non-entity. (Or a punchline.)

In your universe, you poor sucker, people will actually pay real actual dollars to listen to something that goes 
Bitch better have my money
Bitch better have my money
Pay me what you owe me
Bitch better have my
Bitch better have my
Bitch better have my money*
Poetry, sheer poetry. I'm sure it will be a lasting cultural contribution, one that will tug at the musical heartstrings of generations yet unborn.

My ignorance of popular music is a thing that I cherish and love and nurture. See, over in my universe, there are people you've never heard of who are musical gods.

Stan Rogers was one of them.

Even though you've never heard of Stan--hell, even if you can't stomach his music (it's not your fault; you were brought up wrong)--you should read Night Drive. It's side-splittingly funny, for one thing. And it's achingly wistful. And raw, and honest, and angry, and insightful, and illuminating. It's not a conventional biography; it's only mostly chronological, and its arrangement is a bit haphazard. Garnet is more raconteur than author. If Night Drive were a painting, it'd be Impressionist: not photographic, not precise, not posed, not even complete, yet withal absolutely true.

Trying to make a living playing non-commercial music is clearly the act of a desperate person. If you've ever had any ambitions in that direction, Night Drive should cure you. (If it doesn't, you've soared past "desperate" and are well over the border into "deranged".) This is an unsanitized look at what gods are like when they're not really gods, but young men with outsized gifts and dedication and idealism and egos and ambition and inability to function conventionally and no more wisdom than most young men have, which is a number so small that mathematicians haven't diagnosed it yet. By the end, their livers must have had the consistency of Hostess Ding Dongs.

Thanks to Garnet for writing what must have been an agonizing book. Thanks to Stan and Garnet's parents, who were supportive and loving and forgiving to a degree that I can't even envision. Thanks to the other band members. Thanks to the club owners (including my seventh-grade social studies teacher). Thanks, finally, to Stan for the music. I never heard him live--for no good reason; he was in my home area often enough--but I've got a dozen of his songs in my repertoire. 

I can't do them justice. But I can pass them on.

*NO, I did not know that. I just googled "stupidest song lyrics" and there it was.

Night Drive is available through Garnet's website.


  1. Bitch better have my
    Bitch better have my
    Bitch better have my money

    Kind of catchy