Sunday, September 4, 2011

Killing Yourself To Live Soundtrack: 85% Of An Aggregatibacter Mixtape

I was pretty sick for most of this month and one of the books I read while laying in bed bored out of my mind was Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself To Live: 85% Of A True Story. It's a tough book to put down. It's the story of a cross-country road trip Klosterman took while writing an article for Spin magazine about why death is often the best career move musicians can make. Along the way he meets up with, and contemplates his relationships with, the main loves of his life, snorts coke on the site of the Station fire where about a hundred rockers where killed by Great White's pyrotechnics, listens to all the KISS solo records, and recalls a story in which his brother broke a deer's neck with his bare hands. This is all while traveling to various sights where rock stars have kicked the bucket: Kurt Cobain's greenhouse, the farm where Lynrd Skynrd's plane crashed, the apartment where Replacement's guitarist Bob Stinson drank himself to death, etc. As a rock critic and record nerd, he talks about and listens to a lot of music along the way. He brought 600 records on the 2 week trip. What I like about rock critics is their ability to give the reader an idea of what a record will sound like by comparing the band's sound to a conglomeration of different culture artifacts that are simultaneouely important, well-known, and oddly related to this new work they are describing. I can't do this, which is why all my posts here have links to the records themselves and videos of songs from the records I talk about. Anyway, Killing Yourself To Live, shows cirtics not only do that with the records they review, but with every aspect of their lives. They compare girlfriends to certain songs or members of KISS, sum up the entirety of major terrorist attacks by going track-by-track through an album released before said terrorist attack occurs, compare their relationship to a town to Ozzy Osborne's relationship to Randy Rhodes. They see the world through music, often making very deep, truthful realizations by making absurd comparisons. To make this point, I've chosen some of the more ridiculous songs referenced in the book. Klosterman writes about hundreds of songs, albums, and recording artists in the book. I chose one song that was specifically mentioned in each chapter to make this "soundtrack" to the book. I usually picked the silliest track mentioned, but not exclusively. Sometimes I picked a song that really summed up the events of the chapter, or that effectively created an image, or that I just liked a whole lot. Oddly, as I look over the track list, very few of these songs were written by the dead artists who were the subject of the article he was researching as the events chronicled in the book take place. Many are songs he used to describe ex-girlfrends and most are just off-the-wall references that paint a perfect picture of whatever it is he's trying to describe at the time. If you decide to read the book while you read this, you may find yourself comparing it to High Fidelity, but KYTL is a much better book with a much stranger soundtrack.

Chapter 1: Bodies--The Sex Pistols
Chapter 2: I Can't Explain--The Scorpions
Chapter 3: Jolene--Dolly Parton
Chapter 4: Chantilly Lace--The Big Bopper
Chapter 5: My Drug Buddy--The Lemonheads
Chapter 6: Crazy in Love--Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z)
Chapter 7: Downtown--Petula Clark
Chapter 8: Sit Down, Stand Up--Radiohead
Chapter 9: Hollywood Nights--Bob Seger
Chapter 10: Rock Me Amadeus--Falco
Chapter 11: Camel Walk--Southern Culture On The Skids
Chapter 12: More Than Words--Extreme
Chapter 13: I Don't Want To Know--Fleetwood Mac
Chapter 14: Bastards of Young--The Replacements
Chapter 15: Dancefloors--My Morning Jacket
Chapter 16: Stay With Me--Faces
Chapter 17: Trampled Under Foot--Led Zeppelin
Chapter 18: New York Groove--KISS (Ace Freehley Solo Album)
Chapter 19: Lithium--Nirvana
Chapter 20: Something in the Way--Nirvana

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