Music isn’t just about music. Yes, I know that sounds cryptic, but anyone who has listened to music knows that the experience isn’t just aural. It’s also visual, physical, and experiential. Does a particular song remind you of an incident in the past? Does it remind of you of who you were with or what you were doing when you first heard the song?
The experience could be ordinary. For instance, while my plane from Bangalore was hovering around Delhi one night at around 11.30pm, I was listening to a song called Caterpillar by Disco Biscuits (I’d recommend it). Now, every time I am in a plane hovering over Delhi airport late in the evening (which is quite often), I can hear that song even if I’m not carrying my iPod. And every time I listen to that song —no matter where I am—I am taken back to that night in the plane.
Of course, it helps if the experience is extraordinary. Thus, whenever I listen to Throwing Stones, a Grateful Dead song I don’t particularly like because it’s too pop, I am reminded of the time almost 20 years ago when I hitched a ride on a truck carrying sheep from Rajasthan to Kashmir (I fib you not; I’m told this is a regular movement of the ungulates) while hiking through north India. A packing mishap had left me with two tapes for the journey—In the Dark (the Dead album which features the song I have mentioned), and Vol. 1 of Crossroads (which was good because Clapton didn’t insist on singing in most of the songs and let his guitar do the talking)—and I ended up listening to Throwing Stones several times.
Freddie and Me: An individual’s story told through that of Queen’s.
No, dear and constant reader, CF hasn’t suddenly changed its focus to music. It’s just that this reviewer was reminded of all this when he read Freddie and Me, a new book by Mike Dawson (the subtitle says A Coming of Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody).
Freddie and Me is about Dawson’s early fascination (which has never left him, by the way) for the music of Queen. Now, that could have easily translated into a work of fan-fiction, but Dawson, a young comics book artist (he is in his early 30s), has parleyed his love for Queen into a book that is, as the title claims, a coming-of-age one. That’s a unique perspective—the telling of an individual’s story using a popular music group as a frame of reference—and one that this writer has never seen tried before. And because Dawson is a comics guy, Freddie and Me is a graphic novel. Parts of it (including a brief history of the band Wham, which Dawson clearly doesn’t like) are imagined, but the work is likely largely autobiographical in nature. Dawson’s illustration-style is more Roy Crumb than Frank Miller, but that suits Freddie and Me very well.
The high point of the book as far as this writer is concerned is a compact little spread showing a discography of Queen and a dynamic family tree of Dawson.
(Write to Sukumar at firstname.lastname@example.org)