Book – 101 Artists to Listen to Before You Die
Author – Ricardo Cavolo
Year – 2014
Pages – 217
Genre – Non-Fiction
One of the things that I have been doing over the lockdown period, I have called Song A Day. It is somewhat more successful than the abandoned Play A Day. I have made a spreadsheet (of course) with a list of all of the bands that one should have listened to. And I am working my way through it, doing a bit of research into what their best songs that I don’t know are, and then writing about them (in a little book, but some may migrate here at some point). I have really enjoyed getting to know the music of some amazing bands that I previously knew little about – everyone knows who The Ramones or Pink Floyd are, but could we sing along to more than one or two hits?
I have also been doing some art. I made a little kids’ book and did some pencil drawing and have been trying to use pen a bit now to do something interesting. I like having something I can do whilst watching TV (Alex knits, but nobody needs to be subjected to my attempts at that) and art has been good for this.
In a charity shop in Brighton we spotted this, and it seemed to be the perfect blend of the pair. The concept is this – artist Ricardo Cavolo thinks that music has played a huge part in his life, and he made a list of the artists that have had the biggest impact. He is not saying that they are literally the best ever, but are his own personal choice. Each artist then gets a page where he explains what they mean to him, and a page with a gorgeous illustration of the artists in his own style. He encourages the reader to think of this as a starting point and to make their own lists – even to make notes in his book (although it would feel sacrilege to deface such a lovely looking book) as they listen to and discover the artists listed. I have duly logged each of the artists in his book and will work my way through them at some point. I have already, upon his recommendation, listened to rock and roll pioneer Link Wray, whose guitar playing was deemed so sexy that his instrumental, Rumble, was banned by many radio stations and Daniel Johnston, whose low-fi happy go lucky music was championed by Kurt Cobain, but belied the manic depression that he battled his whole life.
As a book, I have no idea how to rate it. It is perfect for what I am doing at the moment, and if you are interested in hearing new music (no matter how old it is) then it is a treasure trove. He is an artist by profession, and the very individual style he uses I found wonderfully charming. I think my only hesitation is that it is effectively a book about just some music he likes. Maybe this ties into my own worry that this entire ten year old blog is just a huge vanity project, or maybe just that I am jealous that I am unlikely to garner myself a book deal off the back of it. I just know that it is a book that I will most certainly be keeping hold of for a long time.