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October 29, 2010

So, as you can see, there isn’t much here yet. I have got lots and lots of writing, noise, and other detritus stored up, which will probably appear here in some form or another. But to whet your appetite, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

“Life” by Keith Richards
It’s finally on the bookshelves (right next to Justin Bieber’s autobiography). Considering that I knew very little about them before my stint as a security guard in their employ in 2005, my knowledge and appreciation for The Rolling Stones has grown remarkably. That said, the only other books I’ve read on the band are an inferior potboiler paperback bio of the man entitled “Keith”, a coffee table history called “According To The Rolling Stones”, and one of those “33 & 1/3” pocketbooks about the album Exile On Main Street. Reading autobiographies of famous people is really only interesting to me if they have recalled plenty of small details and images from their past that resonate strongly with my own half-glimpsed remembrances of childhood and adolescence. Obviously, Richards is a raconteur of the finest order and starts in medias res with a great story about getting busted on tour in Arkansas. What really drew me in, however, was his vivid portrait of childhood days in post-War England. I’m excited to continue reading through the rest of his amazing journey.

“The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature” by Daniel J. Levitin
I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Levitin last night when he spoke at the Royal Conservatory of Music here in Toronto. It was a seminar on “Beethoven and Your Brain” about how our brains respond to classical music and what that tells us about ourselves. Working at the RCM on the front-of-house staff means that I get to see lots of amazing performers for free; usually these are classical music concerts that I wouldn’t have the money to get to, under normal circumstances, but I was especially looking forward to Levitin’s appearance alongside the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. I’d already encountered his first book, “This Is Your Brain On Music” and was intrigued by this second effort, an attempt to categorize human communication and behaviours under six headings epitomized by a half-dozen different pop songs. He spoke very well at the event, and cordially chatted with me and some of the other staff prior to the show. Well, that closed the sale for me! I like his clear, straightforward style that aptly explains difficult scientific concepts through accessible and appropriate examples.

“Perfecting Sound Forever” by Greg Milner
This was a gift from Mom for my 24th birthday a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen it in stores before (though she maintains it was hard to track down a copy) and wanted to read it based on title alone: it slyly references the promise of “perfect sound, forever” that was used as a marketing slogan for the Compact Disc back in the 1980s. Milner writes with precision and passion on the origins, history, and social impact of recording. Being a “sound guy”, it’s right up my alley. I’m particularly looking forward to reading what he has to say about the shifts in recording techniques brought about by the last 40 years of pop music.

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