Podcast 315 – in which the Backlisted boys talk Great Musical Biographies

John Mitchinson and Andy Miller do the award-winning Backlisted podcast which, as they like to say on the tin, “brings new life to old books”. They’re also big music fans so we thought they would be the ideal people to come along and talk in their own inimitable style about what they feel are some of the best and sometimes overlooked examples of the genre.

That’s how come, in a wide-ranging discussion we came to touch on “Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams” by Nick Tosches, “Black Vinyl, White Powder” by Simon Napier Bell and Levon Helm’s “This Wheel’s On Fire”, “Nico: Songs They Never Play On The Radio” by James Young, Julian Cope’s “Krautrock Sampler”, Stephen Sondheim’s “Look: I Made A Hat” and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon” by Crystal Zevon, all of which are in their different ways recommended.

Conversation covers: how much a rock star gets for their memoirs, how to tell if an anecdote is made up or not, why Julian Cope doesn’t mind you downloading his book for free and how you, yes you, can easily increase the amount of reading you do.

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Podcast 314 – in which Bethan Roberts talks about “Graceland”, her novel about Elvis and his mum

We were delighted to welcome Bethan Roberts to Word In Your Ear to talk about her novel “Graceland“. This is based on the most important relationship in the life of Elvis Presley. His mother Gladys brought him up single-handedly when his father went into prison, she encouraged his singing, she feared for what the girls would do to him and what the managers might take from him, wished he didn’t have to go away so often and would have preferred him to be a furniture salesman married to a nice local girl with some grandchildren on the way. Then, when he was undergoing basic training in the army, she died.

People say that Elvis was never the same after he went in the army. In fact he was never the same after his mother died. Bethan tells us about how she got the idea for the book, what fascinates her about the intense relationship between mother and son and while, as she explains, the odd incident may have been embroidered, the basic facts of her narrative are not in dispute. What’s most amazing, when you read “Graceland”, is that nobody’s written this story before. This book is highly recommended, not merely to fans of Elvis, but for anyone who wants to understand what sudden dramatic fame does to the nearest and dearest of the Famous One.

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