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  • Tuesday Top Ten -- Bill Bruford

    Tue, 19 May 2009 03:09

    Bill Bruford grew up with jazz. As an amateur drummer in the 1960s, and after a handful of lessons from Lou Pocock of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he began his professional career in 1968. He was a guiding light in the so-called British "Art Rock" movement, touring internationally with Yes and King Crimson from 1968-74. There then followed several years spent observing and participating in the music making processes of, among others, Gong, National Health, Genesis and U.K., until Bill felt ready to write and perform his own music with his own band Bruford, recording four albums from 1977-80.

    Bill's excellent Autobiography is out now...

    And here is Bill's Tuesday Top Ten:

    London in the 19th Century by Jerry White

    I'm something of a history buff. I can't get enough, but prefer the factual to the romaticised version. The way previous generations lived astonishes and enlightens in turn. If I'm feeling negative about our own times and conditions, I have only to imagine life before modern dentistry, and all is suddenly right with the world again.

    This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

    As a musician, and one who loves a mystery, the mystery of music and its effects is going to keep me enthralled for hours. It is one of the great sadnesses of our age that the making of music has hitherto been mostly delegated to professionals, although that trend is reversing now that everyone can, and does, makes a CD in his or her bedroom.

    Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

    As a male outsider to the world of women, it's always fascinating to be given a glimpse of the subtle interactions of a small group of ladies, in this case, on the staff of St. George's School. Nobody quite does nastiness and malice quite like these sisters.

    Men of Honour: Trafalgar and the Making of the English Hero by Adam Colson

    I note with alarm that my random choice of reading includes three books on warfare. Given that these lists say much more about the list-maker than the items included, I'm concerned you might find me a blood-thirsty soul. It's just that men seem never as courageous or inventive as when they are hard at work slaughtering each other. Beautifully written and gripping.

    A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr

    Stroppiness and it's close cousin bloody-mindedness are admirable national characteristics. Somewhere, between Agincourt (see below) and modern Britain, we British took and passed A-Levels in both subjects. Marr helps explain the effects of these characteristics and others on modern political life.

    Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Hunger to Belong by John O'Donohue

    I love a mystery, but prefer the spritual to the murderous kind. And I don't need a resolution. This is a wonderful book of profound Celtic mystical wisdom.

    Bowie in Berlin by Thomas Jerome Seabrook

    I'm not usually one for anorak-style detail about who said what to whom when, but this is Bowie's most interesting music-making period, and the record-maker in me wants to know what he went through making his records. Considerably more advanced self-abuse, is the answer. I hope he feels better now.

    Stalingrad by Antony Beevor

    More scarcely believable amounts of suffering. Had it not actually happened, like all the great stories in human existence, one would not believe it possible. I tried Beevor's Berlin after this, but found his graphic depiction of the buchery too much for my delicate stomach, and had to abandon ship a third of the way through. I tried, honest.

    Agincourt by Juliet Barker

    Modern historians seem to have learned to write in such a way that avoids reading like a dissertation. Scholarly history for a wide audience.

    Sinatra: The Life Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan

    Immaculately researched biography of one of the greatest singers of popular music. A history lesson in the ugly side of the music business, in a time when dames were dames, men were men, and 'elf 'n' safety hadn't been invented.


    1. James Hyden's avatar James Hyden

      Bill, in regards to ww2 history, an author worth mentioning is Cornelius Ryan: Two of his books were made into hollywood movies. Of his books, I've read 'A Bridge too Far' (Operation Market Garden) and 'The Last Battle' which is about the Russian advance on Germany's eastern front in the last days of the war. Another interesting book/movie that combines ww2 with imagination and insight is 'Slaughterhouse Five' by Kurt Vonnegut. As you point out, the study of history is important. Not only to understand the period but to understand ourselves as human beings. David Letterman in 1994 had a Frank Sinatra joke which went like this: "Frank has a new line of neck-ware out. It's called 'alleged mob ties'". On the internet, humor does not always translate well so in advance I'd like to offer my apologies to DL and BB and FS. ~best wishes

      Posted Sun, 15 Nov 2009 03:02

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