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Bit Of A Blur by Alex James
I read this book when we were recording Perfect Symmetry in Berlin and I found it to be very, very funny and inspiring. Alex James is the bass player from Blur and I really liked the juxtaposition of his very throwaway gung-ho approach to being in Blur and living it up, against his more serious insight into the working process of a band. I actually found it very inspiring. He has some quite interesting ideas - one philosophy that he keeps mentioning is that being creative is so much about confidence and that the things you do quickly without really thinking about them are normally the best things. That was a really interesting creative inspiration for me.
Reading the book made me go back to Blur. I've always been a huge fan of theirs, but I guess I hadn't actually listened to them that much recently. It was really nice to hear the albums again in the context of being reminded about all the excitement around that time, be it related to Blur themselves, or the wider context of politics and art and everything. And they really have made some brilliant records.
It's great being able to get inside a musician's head in the way that a book like this lets you. Getting people to open up like that and talk seriously about their life and their music can be almost impossible, unless you get to know them really, really well. But that seems to change when someone writes a book. I wouldn't be surprised if Alex James has gone through his whole life without ever expressing half of the stuff that he wrote in that book. There seems to be something about writing a book that makes you write as if nobody's ever going to read it. I guess that's why confessional things often come out in books, rather than in interviews or any form.
I'm not sure whether I'd like to write a book myself. I don't feel like I've got quite enough wisdom to share just yet. But I'll keep hoping...