Review - 33 Days by Bill See

I'll be honest, if I were walking by this book in a bookstore I might have kept walking because it isn't my usual type of read, but that is exactly why I love GoodReads. I come across so many wonderful reading opportunities that normal wandering (in my usual sections) might not bring to light. I read the premise for this book and instantly knew I would love the journey that was bound to take place. A bunch of young peeps playing in a rock band experiencing the highs and lows; sex, drugs and rock and roll. I instantly wanted it. I was so excited and surprised when Bill See emailed me direct and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing an eBook copy. HELLS YES!!

GoodReads Summary of this book -
For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.

Being the little girl growing up who sung at the top of her lungs every moment I could, I completely understood this book. To this day, I have a guitar that I was given years ago that I would love to learn how to play, but still it sits there gathering dust. My mother has taught me a few songs, but it just doesn't come to me without a teacher. Deep down inside, I still think I can be Sheryl Crow. Who doesn't at some point in their lives think they want (and can be) a rock n roll star? Music helps me escape and purge any pent up feelings. Hell it's the best part of working out; what better way to forget I am running on a treadmill. It is how I wake up in the morning and most days in the background as well. As Bill See says, " . . .until music permeated my bloodstream, I was just walking around dodging bullets."

Music, I feel, is the way to someone's soul. It touches me in ways other things, people included, cannot. It allows me to feel feelings that I never knew I could, or would. I can sing about heart ache, my truck being broken down, smoking a doobie, whatever. As long as it hits the heart and I can feel the beat, it doesn't matter. And I can't really feel music unless it is pounding from the inside. It just feels me up and pours out of me. I am and always will be that little girl who got sent outside because my singing was so loud it was annoying my parents (and probably after awhile, the neighbors). This quote from the book, "We know music can't change the world, but music changed our world, and it could change theirs. It's not even like we're trying to convince anyone our music can change their world. We're just trying to show people we feel reborn doing what we're meant to do." is the epitome of what I feel.

Each of the people Bill See talks about in this book are fascinating in their own way and I really enjoy how he incorporates his growth and development from being around them without losing the reality of life. My favorite part of the whole book though, is the realization he needs to play -
"Raj," I say quietly to him. "Soon it'll be too late. You'll be married . . . and I'll be bitter . . . Let's make everyone of those motherfuckers down there know our name."
I relate to so much of what he says regarding being eaten alive by the audience, taken advantage of by the club managers and then being racially assaulted while simply out being human. This is alive in my world of retail (as I hate to call it customer service because then I feel like a servant to customers) . . . Bill relates this quote a few times throughout the book, a saying from Tom Joad, "A fella ain't got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul. The one big soul that belongs to everyone."

Other moments that truly grabbed me -
Aside from maybe Springsteen, there's no rock stars for role models. They've all let me down. It's like they all lusted after stardom and once there, looked us in the eye and then fled. I've stood there outside after shows and watch them treat fans like an annoyance, get whisked away in their limos and isolate themselves in their extravagance and wealth only to moan about it later. I'm done with it.

I used to think all heaven was an ear, but it's like I've been screaming in to the void - eulogizing stalled dreams - but I never stopped that one continuous plea. So it went: someone's got to save me.
Tom Hasse is going to be here in just a few to pick me up so we can go rent the van. No one will rent to us because none of us have a credit card, and we're all under 25. Then my friend Dave Silva told me his friend Tom would lay down his credit card for us to rent the van. Now, I don't know if ol' Tom's just too stoned to know better than to rent a van for a rock band going on tour for over a month. A band that's not even traveling with the guy who rented the van. A band that's not only taking the van outside California, but clear out of the freaking country.
One suggestion with this book would have been to add a CD compilation to this book that has the music with it. I loved each and every song listed in this book and found myself going to YouTube to find and listen to the songs while I read. Songs like Let It Be by the Replacements and Inner City Blues by Marvin Gaye and Bad by U2 and everything from The Who to R.E.M. He references Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers which makes my insides squeal like the little girl I will always be. Oh how I love "Free Bird."

The connection of the bands is so cool; hearing about Kurt Cobain and the differences between indie post-punk rock, heavy influenced bands and hard rock/glam like GunsNRoses (I SO heart you guys!!) and then even explaining Jane's Addiction. I found myself even looking up the songs I had never heard of and playing them. I also spent some time googling his band trying to find videos of them playing just to formulate a better picture with sound, in my head.

33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream. is a fantastic book that kept me riveted, laughing and yes, occasionally, even, cringing. I loved the camaraderie, the stories of these guys before they went on this trip and how they survived during. The difficulty in breaking out and doing for yourself what your family and parent's may not understand you need to do, is something all kids face. I know I still feel the need to seek approval and know they are happy for me. The need to get out and place my stamp on the world. Be big and be bold or go home. Bill See shows great humility and humbleness in this experience.

Once again, I am enamored with my eReader because I kept being able to look-up books with a touch of my finger and also highlight and take notes which are easily pulled up with the Content button (also a simple touch of the screen). Woop! There it is!

I have already told Saint that he must read this. He is an even bigger music fan than I am. As is my Aunt Sara, which please know when you read this post, I will be sending you a copy when it's published in April. YOU will love this book!

A BIG thanks to Bill See for sending me an email inviting me to review his book!! I really enjoyed the ride.


Pepsi Breath said...

You know your Aunt Sara well! Who was it that stood in front of her bedroom mirror and sang into a pen perfecting her stage moves as a child? ME! This book definitely looks interesting. Thanks in advance! I just started reading (finally) Neil Peart's book ROADSHOW: LANDSCAPE WITH DRUMS: A CONCERT TOUR BY MOTORCYCLE. Neil is RUSH's drummer/lyricist. Starting out great and I'm sure I won't be disappointed. I've enjoyed all his books. Going to see RUSH for the 10th time in June, btw. (Don't get me started on how big a fan I am of this extremely talented and unique band or you'll run out of blogspace.)

jayayceeblog said...

Wow, what a great review! It really sounds like a fun read!