Songbook (英語) ハードカバー – 2002/12
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「自分のお気に入りの曲について僕に言えるのは、どの曲も大好きで一緒に歌いたくなるし、ほかの人にも無理やり聴かせて、僕と同じくらい気に入ってくれないとヘソを曲げてしまうという程度のことだ」と言うホーンビィ。そんな謙虚なことばとは裏腹に、ネリー・ファータドの「I’m Like a Bird」を麻薬患者みたいに繰り返し聴きたくなる欲求を見事に説明してみせたり、ラウドン・ウェインライトのオリジナル曲を息子ルーファスが遠慮気味に解釈し直した「One Man Guy」の中に「神の声が聴こえる」と主張したりする（「ウェインライト・ジュニアの性的指向による微妙なひねりが加わって…」）。とりわけ感動的なのは、ホーンビィ原作の映画『About a Boy』（邦題『アバウト・ア・ボーイ』）のサウンドトラック用に書かれたバッドリー・ドローン・ボーイの「A Minor Incident」へのコメント。『About a Boy』の執筆中、ホーンビィの幼い息子が自閉症と診断された。その出来事が、ホーンビィがずっとあとになって聴く一見無関係そうなこの曲を、彼の心になおさら深く響かせることになった。「僕の息子のことを書いた本じゃないのに、その中のひとつのエピソードをもとに誰かが素晴らしい曲を書き、結果的にはそれが僕にとって、自分の本よりはるかに個人的な何かを意味するものになっている」。本筋から少し外れたこの手の秘話や考察が、すてきな歌と同じように、最後のページを繰ったあともいつまでも心に残るのだ。
付録の11曲入りCDは素晴らしいアイデアだが、使用許諾の問題からか、残念ながら本書に登場するすべての曲を聴くことはできない。しかし全体としては、ホーンビィの卓抜な文章、カナダ人アーティスト、マルセル・ドザマの奇想天外なイラスト、さらに立派な目的（本書の収益は自閉症児のための学校「ツリーハウス」とサンフランシスコ・ベイエリアの非営利の学習センター「826ヴァレンシア」に寄付される）と、ヒットの条件をそろえた貴重な1冊だ。（Brad Thomas Parsons, Amazon.com）
McSweeney's is excited to release Songbook \226 a brand-new collection of short, personal essays by Nick Hornby on 31 of his favorite songs and songwriters. This hardcover book has 4-color illustrations by Marcel Dzama throughout and comes complete with a CD featuring 11 songs discussed within.
Proceeds from Songbook will benefit TreeHouse and 826 Valencia.
The TreeHouse Trust is a U.K. charity based in central London, established in 1997 to provide an educational Centre of Excellence for children with autism and related communication disorders.
826 Valencia is a nonprofit learning center in the Mission District of San Francisco, providing free writing-based tutoring and workshops for students throughout the Bay Area. Students can drop in for individual one-on-one tutoring, register for workshops, or attend field trips through local schools and community organizations.
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If you enjoy reading about the impact music has had on the lives and thoughts of other people, I would suggest reading this book. It is well-written, and personally, I always find Mr. Hornby can make me laugh, even while he's discussing a serious topic. Definitely worth the price of admission!
I've been a Hornby fan since Fever Pitch. When High Fidelity (the book) came out, I was amazed: it felt like Hornby had been eavesdropping on my mind, because I tend to agree with a lot of his opinions about music and music lovers. Similarly, I'm a big fan of the reviews he wrote for The New Yorker a few years ago.
So I ordered the book and it showed up in my box and I immediately turned to the table of contents to see: which songs did he write about??? And I was surprised, and a bit disappointed, to see that I only recognized about a dozen of the titles. And there wasn't one song in the bunch that I considered a personal favorite. And when I listened to the songs I didn't know (included on a handy-dandy CD)... they didn't blow me away. But that's the beauty of a mix tape and, despite the fact that it's printed on paper, this is a mix tape.
And this one comes with great liner notes. Hornby's a smart, entertaining, intuitive writer. I may sound like a disappointed fan trying to make the best of a book that didn't satisfy me 100%, but even when Hornby's writing about music I haven't heard, it's still enjoyable, it's still worthwhile, it's still exposing me to things I previously didn't know about.
Even when he's confessing to not being a huge Dylan fan and confesses to preferring a Rod Stewart cover of one of my favorite Dylan songs to the original (which is, of course, the true road to enternal damnation), he does so in a way that's completely relatable even to a Dylan fanatic.
Even when he's extolling the virtues of a song I find to be "sad bastard" music (like he does in his essay about Mark Mulcahy's "Hey Self Defeater") he manages to include a great, conversational subtext about the virtues of small, privately owned, slowly-becomming-extinct record stores with a personal touch.
This is also a beautifully designed McSweeny book, with a beautiful "Maxell XL-II" mix-tape cover and with clever illustrations by Marcel Dzama. The book also benefits Treehouse Trust and 826 Valencia, organizations that are extremely worthy of the extra money.
Hornby should do one of these a year, I think. And next time, it'd be nice if he'd touch on his favorite Stones songs, his favorite Stax songs, his favorite Steve Earle songs, his favorite blues, his favorite jazz, his favorite Clash songs, etc, etc. If he'll write it, I'll read it.
Instead, the project foundered and the company almost went bankrupt. At a shareholders' meeting (the company had 50 people; that we held shareholders' meeting showed the pretension), I asked the Presdient, what he was doing to prevent the problem from recurring. His response: "What would you do?"
My response began with "Hey, I ain't no hero, that's understood..."
What does one do when the cliche 'The Soundtrack of Our Lives" applies?
You become Nick Hornby. And, you write a marvelous treatise on just how and why (and, above all, how much) you love what I am afraid has no better name than 'Pop Music".
Mr. Hornby has always been an introspective character worthy of inclusion in his own novels, "About a Boy", and "High Fidelity". In fact, that came to pass in his autobiographical "Fever Pitch". But, where Arsenal (Go Gunners!) was the cloth on which the tapestry of his life (loss of father, doubts about himself, selfishness, and other varied and sundry passions) was sewn, here, it is thrity one songs that serve that purpose.
But, please be aware this is not an anthology of music reviews. This is an anthology of Mr. Hornby's life. You'll understand if you are one of us, those people who carry a jukebox in their head...no, in their soul. He shares his soul with us, using an intimacy that is normally saved for confessions to the closest of friends. It's akin to sitting in the back of your local over that one last pint, when the alcohol has freed you from the demons of self-consciousness. It's in that state that you will speak the truth about yourself and what you feel. That Mr. Hornby does it with background music makes it all the more perfect.
Buy this book. Read this book. Live this book. Savor the moods, the feelings, the emotions, the wins and losses, the very life of being alive.