Book Review: “Rod: The Autobiography”

(Originally written November 15, 2012:)

“It’s often said that a band is like a family, and that may well be true, depending how often your family is tired and drunk.”

So writes the author less than a quarter of the way through this 365-page story of yet another rock ‘n roll icon turned Las Vegas headliner.

It’s one of the qualities that sets “Rod” apart from its kindred in this newly burgeoning sub-genre…

It would appear we are on the cusp of a new popular literary phenomenon: the rock ‘n roll autobiography. The prospect is at once both exhilarating and not.

The formula is already in place…

  • The protagonist starts off as a hungry, lower-class scrambler,
  • The protagonist suffers several initial setbacks but eventually hits the big time,
  • With fame and wealth comes temptation, followed by…
  • The Fall and, ultimately…
  • The Redemption, usually facilitated by the partner (most typically the romantic partner, followed closely by the artistic/managerial one.)

David Crosby dictated his memoirs into a tape recorder.  Pete Townshend labored over a computer keyboard.  Rod Stewart, it would appear, turned to his own memory and, to judge by the sound of things, simply composed his notes in longhand on foolscap.

The result is a literate and entertaining read that tends to hold its focus (unlike Crosby’s “Long Time Gone”) and comes across as slightly less self-important (unlike Townshend’s “Who I Am.”)

Roderick David Stewart also brings a few surprises to the table. He reveals that while many have assumed he is of Scottish origin, he is in fact a Londoner; he confesses that songwriting is a difficult labor for him (he originally thought “Maggie May” was a song with no real promise;) he’s an ardent collector of fine art, and he harbors a lifelong passion for model railroading.

And, oh yes, the women…

Unlike his peers who threw themselves into alcohol and drugs, Stewart describes himself as shy in that respect, being protective of his voice, even though he was not above steeling himself with fermented “Dutch Courage” when the need arose.

No, Rod saved himself for the ladies…

The list of names makes the head swim and Stewart makes no bones about his problems with fidelity, which were on a level that would have given Masters and Johnson a migraine of epic proportions.

Thankfully, modern medical science notwithstanding, one benefit of age is a moderation in one’s ability to “perform” and our hero has finally slowed his roll.

Once again, we are treated to a parade of names that reads like a “Who’s Who” of early British rock luminaries; we’ll let you unearth them on your own.

Warm, witty and eminently readable, “Rod” is easy to enjoy and easy to absorb. At its conclusion, one really has the sense that one has indeed met the man.

Most definitely recommended!

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About jaypochapin

Married adult human male, father, brother, son, writer, voiceover actor and humorist. Frequently funny, sometimes snarky, occasionally profound. Beatles, Stones, Who, Python, Firesign Theatre, Shakespeare, Bogart/Bacall, Marx Brothers, Alice Cooper and more besides. Have worked as many things: traffic reporter, disc jockey, newscaster, interviewer, producer, copywriter, voice over talent, teacher, emcee, housekeeper, janitor, uniformed security officer, bagel baker's assistant and more, but don't let the uniform fool you, baby! I ... AM ... THE WRITER!

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