Begin the Begin: R.E.M.'s Early Years is available now. You can purchase on Amazon, or direct from Athens Georgia's wonderful Avid Bookshop

 

"The start of R.E.M and the rise of the Athens, GA music scene has been the subject of countless books, but few crackle with the ring of truth of Robert Dean Lurie’s fascinating new volume Begin the Begin," writes James Mann at The Big Takeover. Read his full review here

 

There will be several release events. The big kickoff will be a party and fundraiser at the Athens GA Foundry on Sunday, May 19 featuring a reading, book signing, and live music courtesy of Dead Letter Office. This event is co-sponsored by Artist2Artist and Avid Bookshop, and proceeds from the door fee ($10 now or $15 day-of) will go to support suicide prevention and PTSD outreach programs for veterans. See flyer below for info. Tickets on sale here.

 

There will also be a reading and book signing on June 25 at the Mansion on O Street in Washington DC, and two North Carolina events are in the works for the fall. Watch this space for more details!

Really enjoying How's the Weather There?, the new EP from Australian songwriter Glenn Watson. This is ostensibly a debut, but he has clearly been doing this for a while. The songcraft is assured, drawing from the likes of R.E.M., Tom Petty, and Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the guitar work has more than a little of the Church in it. (The ending of "Horoscope Girl" nods to the Church's "Life Speeds Up"now that got my attention!) You can't go wrong with those influences, but there is also a distinct Glenn Watson style emerging, one that puts melody, hooks, and musical economy at the forefront. Standout tracks: the epic "Something You Are Not" and "Horoscope Girl"which ought to be a hit everywhere.

How's The Weather There? is available at CDBaby and on all the streaming services. Check it out!

I had this harebrained idea that I would illustrate my own book. This despite the fact that I haven't taken art seriously since high school. As it turns out, it's not like getting back on a bicycle; I bailed after doing three pieces. 

Still--I feel like these illustrations have a certain...I don't know...they're like a flailing boxer who is all heart. They're like Rocky at the beginning of the first movie when he's kind of a lovable trainwreck. If these are not book-worthy, they can at least live on in this blog.

And speaking of boxers, my Michael Stipe ended up with a cauliflower ear and a swollen right hand, but other than that I'm pretty happy with him!

 

 

My Bill can't decide if he'd rather be Robert Mitchum. But he smolders, yes?

 

 

And finally we have William Orten Carlton (AKA "Ort"), legendary confidante of the B-52s and R.E.M. (and Government Cheese, Bowling Green, KY's finest musical export). To write of Athens music without mentioning Ort would be like leaving Lenin out of the story of the Russian Revolution. (I recognize that my analogy is imprecise; Ort did not return from exile on a sealed train to foment the Athens music revolution--at least I don't think he did. But why sacrifice a good line for the sake of accuracy?) Anyway, here is Ort circa 1986.

Dear Friends,

 

I'm thrilled to report that the release date for my new book Begin the Begin: R.E.M.'s Early Years has been set for May 14, 2019. You can view a slideshow of the interior graphics at VerseChorus.com, and the excellent website Dangerous Minds has published an excerpt from the book here. Last but not least, copies are now available for pre-order via Amazon.

 

I have waited a long time to make this announcement. My forthcoming book is R.E.M. The Early Years. This deep-dive into the origins of a great American band has been in the works since 2012 and will see release in Fall 2018 from Verse Chorus Press. If you would like to be on a mailing list for further announcements, please go to my main page at http://www.robertdeanlurie.com/index/ and enter your email address in the "Join" box. Can't wait for y'all to read this one.
 

A big highlight of 2017 for me was the opportunity to work with one of my musical heroes, Keith Joyner, in promoting his new band les biches. Blurt posted a piece this week that includes excerpts from the band bio I wrote along with the unveiling of a monster new track. If I could make everyone I know--especially my friends who are into the Church, Bowie, and the Cure--sit down and listen to the song "North From the Airwaves," I would. C'mon, give it a go! You can read the piece, and listen to the song, here.

It was a huge honor to be invited onto National Review's new music podcast "Political Beats" this week to discuss the career and legacy of Hall and Oates. If, like me, you have been earnestly seeking that sweet spot where Smokey Robinson, Aleister Crowley, Robert Fripp, George Harrison, doo-wop, and Philadelphia soul overlap; if you have been pondering the meaning of the "Las Vegas turnaround" or the relation of "Maneater" to 1980s corporate greed; if you have been wondering who "Sara" might be; look no further my friend! Come for the mustache, stay for the guided tour through one of the most impressive pop songbooks of the 20th century. Listen here.

In commemoration of the first anniversary of David Bowie's passing, Blurt Magazine has published an extended excerpt from my book We Can Be Heroes. This section pertains to the making of the acclaimed Berlin Trilogy.

Also, in honor (sort of) of Bob Dylan's recent ascent to the status of Nobel Laureate, I have written a brief review of his Lyrics 1961-2012 collection for Front Porch Republic.

 

 

I am thrilled to announce publication of my new eBook We Can Be Heroes: The Radical Individualism of David Bowie

Details below. 

"Robert Dean Lurie is a rock and roll writer in a Tertium Quid groove: he is lucid and thorough and provocative, capable of soaring flights of fancy yet grounded and wise. In We Can Be Heroes, Lurie invokes Burroughs and Nietzsche, Orwell and Rand, Aleister Crowley and Edmund Burke (Crowley and Burke?!), and the result is a song of David Bowie that rings euphoniously, cacophonously true."

--Bill Kauffman, author of Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette

"Comparisons to punk or Prince are easy enough, but any book on Bowie that opens by likening his under-appreciated band Tin Machine to Howard Roark has my attention. By the end, we've learned the revealing philosophical origin story of this musical "Superman," with cameos by Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley, Elvis, and the other acknowledged influences who separated Bowie from the herd of common homo sapiens and made him something unapologetically higher."
--Todd Seavey, author of Libertarianism for Beginners

Utilizing song lyrics, interviews, biographical resources, and commentaries from a diverse range of writers and artists, We Can Be Heroes follows the strong thread of radical individualism running through David Bowie's work and life, exploring its parallels with the ideas of such diverse figures as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Ayn Rand, and Aleister Crowley. Bowie's legacy is also compared with that of his successors, such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, a contrast that demonstrates that his philosophical foundation, largely absent from the work of these and other more image-oriented performers, has guaranteed his body of work the sort of longevity usually only accorded to authors and visual artists. Bowie kicked off a one-man revolution in self-actualization. This book examines its substance and implications.

A must-read for fans of Bowie, as well as passionate proponents of individualism.

We Can Be Heroes is available exclusively from Amazon.com and can be read on any device via the free Kindle app.

An excerpt from the book can be read here.

I've been thinking lately about "The Piña Colada Song" (AKA "Escape") and there are a number of things that just don't add up.

First of all, just how long has this couple been together? I suppose it's possible that the narrator doesn't know about his partner's fondness for "making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape" (which, after all, might have occurred during her wild college years), but I have a hard time believing that he would also be oblivious to her taste for piña coladas, the rain, and her distaste for yoga. Those are a lot of blind spots for a couple that has supposedly been together long enough to fall into a "dull routine." A counter-argument could be made that theirs was a relationship based solely on sex, but if that were the case then he probably should have had some inkling about her thing for the dunes of the cape.

Also, am I the only one who is annoyed by the fact that the narrator does not directly address the mystery woman's point about yoga? Instead, he goes off on a tangent about health food and then declares, Tourette's-like, "I am into champagne!" The woman stipulated in her overture that her fantasy suitor "have half a brain," but the man's reactions indicate at least some degree of cognitive challenge. Perhaps he's taking the "half a brain" request literally rather than figuratively, and is seeking to demonstrate that he is only operating on 50% brain capacity.

Let's follow the yoga point a bit further. One wonders why it is so important that the woman's would-be lover eschew this ancient art. Given how quickly the male physique can deteriorate, it would seem that a potential partner's interest in yoga would be an asset, even if the other partner doesn't share it. But perhaps she is opposed on religious grounds? (Also, we don't know what the "lovely lady" actually looks like; there might be an intimidation factor. Given the appearance of the song's author, Rupert Holmes, it's reasonable to assume that we're not dealing with Lana Turner here).

I would also guess that the man's declaration that he's "not much into health food" and that he might even be nursing an alcohol dependency would be a further red flag. Heavy consumption of alcohol brings with it a lot of empty calories and has been linked to poor sexual performance. Now, I'm not Dr. Oz, but I'm thinking that without a healthy diet to balance out the heavy drinking, there are probably some serious medical issues on the horizon. Is that really what she wants in a companion?

Finally, we're left with the supposed happy ending in which the husband and wife realize that they've really been corresponding with each other the whole time. But think about this for a moment. Once the afterglow of getting it on at midnight for apparently the first time in their relationship subsides, there will be some tough issues to work through—for a start, the fact that they were both actively conspiring to carry on affairs.

Given this couple's history of poor communication, I don't hold out much hope for them in the long run. If divorce doesn't get them, liver failure or heart disease will. Sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but I've got to call this as I see it. Next!

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