Like many music fans I’ve imagined myself as a musician – the 3rd guitar Thin Lizzy never knew they needed. Trouble is, I don’t so much play the guitar as interfere with them. I can only play sitting down and under no circumstances if anyone else is watching. Or listening. Paul’s tale of how he overcame his stage fright to become a travelling troubadour therefore appealed to me, if only to relate how he managed to do something I know I never will.
Paul’s tale is not a simple “How To Get Over Yourself And Get On Stage”. It’s a tale of redemption as well as a gentle reflection on his parents, friendship, his children and most importantly himself. The book alternates chapters between his formative years and his gradual steps towards playing songs in public.
The twist in the plot – and I’m giving nothing away as it’s revealed at the start of the book – is that Paul didn’t acquire the performance bug late in life. In his youth he fronted The Entangled Network, one of Hythe’s foremost rock and roll bands (indeed quite possibly their only rock and roll band) who successful promoted their own gigs and recorded a number of songs. The chapters alternate between the young Dodgson finding and then losing his mojo, and how as an adult made his way back on stage.
If the book has a weakness, it’s the relative lack of light and shade in the adult years. The gradual steps from practice in his kitchen to playing to paying punters don’t quite have the same zest and pace as his childhood revelations. He documents extensively (and with a very droll, dry humour) his childhood pretentions and misjudgements in a way that were sadly all too easy to identify with, and manages to convey very effectively why anyone thought it a good idea to pay money to see The Enid. If their parents would let them. And run them there and back.
If you are after a self-help book this isn’t it. If you enjoy a trip down memory lane that mixes a smile with a few cringes, with some touching reflections from adult life on friendships, children and relationships, I’d heartily recommend it.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
A quiet strum.
One thing you’ve learned
Always eat before a gig.