Tom Petty-don’t write that memoir!


The Year of the Rock Memoir

In case you hadn’t noticed, 2011 is the year of the rock-book-tells-all memoir. Keith Richards Life, Sammy Hagar’s Red, and Tommy James Music and the Mob top my list of fun-read rock books in recent months. I note that Steven Tyler has a book coming out this fall. Toxic Twin tells all.

Well, I think ghost writers need the work (my old pal, SF Chronicle rock critic Joel Selvin, wrote the Hagar book), so that’s cool, and I have enjoyed all the books so far. The job of a rock memoir is to take you backstage, behind those closed all-access-only doors, onto those tour buses, into those hotel rooms. All these books do this and more. I love the childhood parts of all the books best. Once a guy gets to be a big star, what’s there to relate to? Wow, a customized Ferrari. Mansions on exotic islands. Doing blow with gangsters.

My book is different. I pulled myself  to the top of the ladder a few times, but kept getting 86’d to lower levels.  Ok, at the end I’d achieved a measure of success, but that only meant I had a car that started most times when I turned the key. My kid was in the public school down the block. Yes, I got to sing on some big stages and I did write songs that everyone still has stuck in the heads. I wrote a guitar lick that is instantly recognizable. In my high school yearbook there was a quote under my photo:”…out of me, unworthy and unknown, the strains of deathless music…”—at least music that won’t get out of your head all day. No Ferrari, mansions, or gangsters: real struggle, actual fertilizer to shovel. I think you’ll like it. The thing about 867 is that it’s as much about the times we all went through than it’s about me.

One aspect of my book completely sets it  apart from the above memoirs;  I wrote it myself, every word. I have been writing for almost twenty ears now, mostly adventure stories for teenage boys like me. I do have a trio of music-biz books, the second of which will be released next spring by Charles River Press, Second Childhood. You can read about it at www.charlesriverpress.com . But I also have two trilogies of adventure books, a baseball story that is now a screenplay, a sci-fi action thriller, and three more novels part-way done.

Writing and music dovetail for me. They are the same thing. I write songs; I write books. It’s all about my imagination and my passion for following the spark of creativity. If an idea hits me I will literally leave a restaurant, drive home and start a three-minute song or a four-month book right on the spot.

Last night I had a dream in which was hanging out with Tom Petty. In real life I don’t know the gent—I am a big fan. I was encouraging him to write his memoir. He began to gather materials. Wait! I meant take up crocheting, fly-fishing, nuclear physics. Anything but write another Rock book. Wait, Tom, don’t do it! I was kidding! Not this year. This is my year. The year of rock memoir will be topped off with 867-5309/Jenny: the song that saved me.

My book will be out in late September. The first Barnes & Noble date is booked for September 30th in Pensacola Florida, where I will be playing at the Pensacola Songwriter’s festival. I then drive across the country to San Francisco to start my ‘book concert’ tour and drive until the wheels fall off my Ford.

Meanwhile, my publisher and I await the galley proof of our book. Any day now, he tells me. Then it’s the rest of April, May, June, July, August and September.

As Mr. Petty (please don’t write a book this year) sings: The Waiting is the Hardest Part.

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One Response to Tom Petty-don’t write that memoir!

  1. Russ Milenbach says:

    I just made my wife a mix cd and included Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman…………she thought it was a Tom Petty song.Ever get THAT feeling?Looking so forward to your Playhouse show……any word on tickets is appreciated…….cheers.

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