April 7, 2006

Brown Eyed Handsome Man

According to a newly passed St. Louis city ordinance, if you are linked to by at least three city bloggers, you must have at least one post per month on St. Louis-only content. So, therefore, consider this my quota.

You can't go wrong talking about Chuck Berry - he's one of the few celebrities I've met (at a signing for his 1987 autobiography), and is one of the main reasons I moved to St. Louis (Well, he, TS Eliot, and toasted ravioli). When I saw the unauthorized Brown Eyed Handsome Man at the local library, I did what any pop culture-obsessed guy would do - checked it out and read it.

Boy, am I grateful - for someone who isn't an STL native, Mr. Pegg is able to nail down some fine details surrounding Berry's life, and in so doing, creates an interesting portrait of a man who "wrote the book on playin' this kind of music" (according to Eric Clapton), but who also never seemed to let his guard down - granted, he lived in a time when doing so would have been .

One of the strengths of this book is relying on local press to back up much of the narrative - given that Mr. Berry himself openly avoided some topics, Pegg gave his book much local color. In addition, Pegg is equally capable of discussing Berry's music, and exactly why he was an architect of rock and roll. (Neither fawning nor overly critical, Pegg is able to put Berry in a strong historical context). It's a great, easy read that needs to be on your bookshelf.

And no, I'm not planning on featuring Berry as a "Record You Should Own" because - let's face it - it's more than likely you already do. It will make great music to listen to as you read.

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