So this is the third of my planned re-reads for the summer. I’ve enjoyed revisiting these books so much that this is likely to trickle on into the autumn in an unstructured way as befits what I said in this post.
Espedair Street is a great novel about a rock band. I have to put my hand up to say that I would love to have called this one of the great rock novels but to be honest I haven’t read many (actually, I can’t think of another one) so the statement would have been based on no evidence whatsoever. It’s still brilliant, but.
So, the background to this re-read is a random thought that popped into my head on the train into work one morning that Silvery Dude, who shares some of my musical taste, might actually enjoy reading about the rise and fall and possible rise again of Daniel Weir and Frozen Gold because (a) it’s rock’n’roll and (b) more importantly, it’s Scottish rock’n’roll.
So I bought him a copy. I happen to know (because I check regularly in a not-nagging-honestly big sister kind of way, just out of interest, have you got round to it yet?) that he still hasn’t read it (I’m sure he’s saving it for a rainy day or something). Anyway having forced this on him I thought that it would be nice to read along; however, as explained a sentence ago, that very quickly turned into reading it by myself, not necessarily a bad thing.
The surprise for me was that when I went to check my stats (for yes, I keep stats on what I read, have done since June 1980, thirty years and quite a lot of books ago) I had only read this once, back in July 1992. I’m sure this is a mistake because chunks of the book have stuck in my head, but perhaps that just goes to show how powerful a story I found it to be, and besides, the stats never lie.
So, why is this so brilliant?
- a large chunk of it is set in my home town of Paisley, so the setting is entirely recognisable (and in fact when I was a toddler we used to live near the actual Espedair Street, plus my Mum grew up in Ferguslie Park) and when I was a student we would occasionally go to the student’s union at Paisley Tech where Daniel meets his future band mates
- it’s seems to be about the kind of prog rock band that I actually followed (and if I’m honest still do – hello Rush, Genesis, Pink Floyd et al); there are concept albums and drum solos for goodness sake
- I can quite happily visualise Fish from Marillion (another favourite band) as the lead character (although not now that he doesn’t have the hair)
- it has the full panoply of rock and roll excess – the drink, the drugs, the fast cars, the paranoia, the more-money-than-you-know-what-to-do-with – but at it’s heart is just about a bloke trying to come to terms with himself and his past
- Frozen Gold is a great name for a band
I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this, intend not to leave it for another 18 years before I pick it up again.
And at least now when Silvery Dude finally gets round to reading it I can talk to him about with greater clarity than I would have done otherwise.