A must-have Kiwi music memoir

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 13:31 05/05/2014

So, last week's post about calling an end to New Zealand Music Month had me on RadioLive talking with Sean Plunket and yesterday I was on Wallace Chapman's new Sunday morning program on Radio New Zealand National (you can click there to hear the audio if you like). 

Much as I see the month as a waste of time and money - Cath Andersen, CEO of the New Zealand Music Commission was also on Chapman's show, she said the taxpayer was only spending around $50,000 on New Zealand Music Month this year and then proceeded to read a list of gigs that were, in most cases, already happening outside and away from the month, but the Commission had decided to champion them - I will acknowledge that from time to time there are events, releases, happenings where, you'd hope, a larger audience is reached as a result of the focus.

One such item this year is the release of Dave McArtney's memoir, Gutter Black. McArtney died last year, he had been working on his memoir for some time and though, as I said in my review (see above) the end result is rushed and there are even some mistakes, some issues withGutter Black - A Memoircontinuity - huge gaps too in the timeline - I still reckon this is a must-read for anyone interested in New Zealand music.

Particularly so if you were gigging about or gig-attending in the late 1970s and 1980s, or interested in the local music at that time; the descriptions of the Kiwi (and American) road-trips are vivid, there are times in fact when McArtney's language really dances, dazzles.

I wrote about Hello Sailor after the release of what will now be the band's last studio album.

I've always been a fan - we've produced some great bands but they had the look, the feel, the sound. They walked the walk. And it's worth remembering/learning the crucial part of the Sailor story: that trip to America, that hunger to make it - and how that all fell away, the band crumbling, the disintegration of the dream.

It's possibly a topic I've suggested once before - but reading Dave McArtney's book had me pondering all over again who else in New Zealand music could/should write a memoir.

Who do you think would do a good job of telling their story, or a crucial part of their story, in memoir form?

And any favourite Kiwi music memoirs?

Have you read Dave McArtney's book? Or are you intending to?

Here's my review of Gutter Black: A Memoir. I thoroughly recommend it. It's an easy read, it's engaging, it's even something of a thrill-ride for most of the first half. And of course there's a sadness, a poignancy there, for we know when we start that we are collecting up a handful of stolen moments, the gathered shards that McArtney had time to shape.

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