At a very early stage in this book, something hits the reader cleanly between the eyes.
This strikes particularly sharply for anyone that grew up listening to The Charlatans and who was starting out on their own chosen profession around the time the band were forming.
This is the life we dreamt of as a kid. This is exactly the kind of thing we were told didn’t happen to kids like us. And here it is in front of our eyes, happening to the 22 year old Tim Burgess.
The book feels like the author has arrived at the point in life where he’s not ashamed and not afraid to bear his soul. There doesn’t appear to be any regret but there has most definitely been a shift in the tide. A kind of, that was then, this is now. We get that feeling pretty early on too, largely due to the manner in which Tim writes. (his take on page 2)
Think a kaleidoscopic, cosmically enhanced twist on the Pulp Fiction template of story telling.
And so, it is even before chapter 1 finishes that you find yourself on a trip with Tim. We’ll come back to this later.
The book is written with real feeling, which emanates particularly well when Tim describes his relationship, co writing and harmonies with Rob Collins. A fine example of the honestly in his writing can be found in the description given to ‘the look in the eye’ that they would share on stage. A look that you could often see him attempting to re-capture after Rob’s death. In gigs that followed Rob’s untimely departure from this world, and for years after, with a whole heap of soul searching evident, you could see Tim’s contemplative, reminiscing glance toward the keyboard, missing that ‘look’.
The Tellin Stories chapter in the book is particularly emotional, dealing with the subject of Rob’s death, the aftermath and Knebworth (the biggest gig ever for the band and first following Rob’s death)
It almost has the reader believing that it was the end for the band.
We know otherwise, but it just adds to the feeling of anticipation the book gives. The old saying, “can’t put it down” is never more evident.
There’s a beautiful touch in the LA Wonderland chapter, where Tim is writing about the acoustic sets he played with Mark during 2011. He tells of one particular audience member’s sad story that touched him. He goes on to explain that, being such a significant part of some people’s lives without knowing them is something he finds quite astonishing.
Ironically, this comes right after Tim reminds us of The Charlatans being tagged the unluckiest band in the world.
“Maybe I’m just an inherently positive person” he says, whilst laying the tag to bed.
And perhaps it is positivity, but an overwhelming shining…nae, cosmic glowing sense of gratitude beams through his words too. Here we have someone who appears to feel incredibly blessed to have lived the life he’s so far led.
The lazy crazy days of America’s west coast nestle perfectly before, and fuse quite appropriately into the closing two chapters of the book. These are centred around detoxification and life now.
Well, I say centred around, however, as Tim points out at the start, he doesn’t write like a book.
More like ideas invading his head…you have been warned. If you like order and chronology in your writing, you may get confused. Don’t worry, you’ll most definitely feel invited in.
Imagine it more like the kind of conversation you have (with a friend or perhaps your mum) on the phone…There is a start, middle and an end, although the definitions of each are yours to interprate. Throw yourself into it, go with the flow and you won’t get lost. You will be pulled from pillar to post, memory to memory and every wild tangent imaginable to man…but the point comes across and it flows naturally. Ever seen Billy Connolly live… A bit like that!
We are reminded of this throughout the journey with Tim. Now, I say journey, but there is something about that word that’s just not in fitting with this book.
Everyone appreciates life’s necessity for us to adapt to change. How we go about making that change is ultimately more important than the result, it’s what defines us.
What Tim does in this book, is take us on a ‘trip’.
However delinquent or sheltered your own life has been, this trip shows you the other side of everything. Just like the perfect trips of memory, it brings you back to where you started when it said it would and delivers as promised. It makes you feel like you have experienced something new and perhaps may even help you understand yourself a little bit more.
Finally, it’s detailed enough to provide you with the lingering memories of fondness and the knowledge that you can take the same trip again, any time. Probably worth adding that the subliminal soundtrack attached to the book is pretty enticing too. Tim’s gonna flip turn upside your head, with references ranging from New Order and The Fall, to Wu Tang Clan and Jimmy Osmond.
Maybe, as life continues to change, we might one day come across another trip. Organised by the same person, offering the same kind of experiences, but different!
A follow up book? Who knows? In the meantime, just read this one again.