If I were dictator of the world, everybody who wanted to form a band to play in front of people would be legally required to watch Standing in the Shadows of Motown first, and everyone who wanted to sign a record deal would be required to read Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be. In my dictatorial fantasy, this leads on the one hand to more bands that go back to the basement until the members learn to listen to each other, and on the other to fewer bands that sign contracts that will probably kill the band. I’m extra-sensitive on the latter point right now; a local band I like just signed a P&D deal with a Warner’s affiliate, and while I wish I could be happy for them, and hope I’m proven wrong, I think it’s unlikely the band will survive the experience. The last dozen or so sure didn’t.
But Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be is by no means only for aspiring record-deal-signers, or obsessive students of music culture. In fact, one of the awesome things about the book is how thoroughly outside-the-industry Trynin’s vantage point is. She found herself the object of an archetypical major label bidding war without having much prior knowledge of how such things work, and she doesn’t expect the reader to bring that knowledge either, nor does she get bogged down with business specifics. Although I think this memoir works well as a cautionary tale, it’s also a highly entertaining rags-to-riches-to-rags story, and Trynin brings the same sort of not-quite-what-you-expect sly wit and acuity to her prose that she once brought to her songs.
Needs More Demons? No. The only thing I want to change about this book is to tack on a feel-good happy ending where Trynin had a long, productive, if perhaps niche-y career as an independent artist. Unfortunately, although she played guitar with Loveless for a while, that hasn’t exactly come to pass so far.
While I don’t want to change the book, I do hope somebody assembles a glossary of all the names-changed-to-protect used in it, and I’m not steeped enough in Boston-ania to get very far. “Flint Raft” would seem to be Gravel Pit. “The Front Load” seems to be The Middle East. And…? Please feel free to help in comments.