Books About Bands

Everyone has a story to tell. I enjoy reading biographies in general, but I find the life stories of musicians especially captivating. The wild and crazy lifestyles of some musicians (especially rock n’ rollers) can make very interesting stories. You’ve probably heard the expression about truth sometimes being stranger than fiction. Nowhere can this idiom be more true than between the pages of a book about a musician.

Reading autobiographies (books written by the subject) and biographies (books about people written by someone else) can be illuminating. I encourage you to read both kinds and see if you have a preference. You might even take a walk on the wild side and read about musicians whose genre of music you don’t typically enjoy. Who knows? It might motivate you to expand your repertoire and start listening to a new genre of music once in a while. I find that the better I understand the motivations and perspectives of the people behind the music, the more I tend to enjoy the music.

One such autobiography I especially enjoyed is Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. You may not have known that this lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers started his career as an actor before he was a musician. He landed his first major role in the 1978 film F.I.S.T. as Sylvester Stallone’s son. He went on to enjoy roles ranging from television (ABC Afterschool Specials, The Simpsons) to movies (Jokes My Folks Never Told Me, Point Break, The Chase). He has also been a writer and producer. His literary and musical influences include Charles Bukowski, Neil Young, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Prince.

Kiedis grew up in Grand Rapids, MI where he lived with his mother, stepfather and two stepsisters. He spent two weeks every summer visiting his father in Hollywood. At twelve years old he moved in with his father and began a struggle with addiction to drugs. While attending Fairfax High School in L.A. he met Michael Peter Balzary (better known today under the stage name Flea). Despite a rocky start these two became close friends who enjoyed making mischief at every opportunity, including jumping off rooftops. Once, Kiedis attempted jumping into a pool from five stories up. He missed. Fortunately, he lived to tell his story. Read more about it in Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis.

“What doesn’t kill you only makes your book longer.”  -Anthony Kiedis

Here are some more books about musicians that you can check out through the Davenport Public Library.

u2Girl in a band    hunger makes me a modern girl    stevie nicksM trainelvis costello







100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces

100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces“Just in case I get hungry, I have a cache of maraschino cherries and cumin-seasoned almonds in a conch near the chaise longue.”

If I said this to you in conversation one day, besides calling into question my taste in snack foods or the wisdom of my food storage choices, you might accuse me of mispronouncing at least one of those words. The above sentence contains seven of the 100 most mispronounced words, according to the book by the same name from the editors of American Heritage Dictionaries.

Cache : Properly pronounced just like the word cash; defined by American Heritage Dictionary as “a supply of goods or store of valuables, especially when concealed in a hiding place.” Not to be confused with the word “cachet” which is “a mark of distinction, prestige.”


Maraschino: This word is derived from the Italian language, therefore the proper pronunciation uses the (sk) sound for the letters -sch-, as in school, scheme, or bruschetta. Have you been pronouncing bruschetta with the (sh) sound? If so, you’re not alone – I have been mispronouncing that one for years.  I could try to blame my tendency to use the “sh” sound on my being a librarian, but I don’t like playing into the stereotype so I won’t! Maraschino is so often pronounced with the (sh) sound that many dictionaries now recognize that pronunciation as acceptable. The good folks at American Heritage advise, however, that if you want to be recognized as a gourmet, you should stick with the (sk).


Cumin: This is a tricky one. For centuries, lexicographers have preferred the pronunciation with a short (u) sound, rather like “come in” with the emphasis on the first syllable. This is based on earlier spellings of the spice name, which include comyn, commen, cummin, and commin, among others. However, in recent years this pronunciation has given way to kyoo’min and koo’min, each used with about equal frequency. For a while, I was hoping there would be a different name for the fresh herb than there is for the seed. That is the case with cilantro and its seed coriander. Alas, no such luck. The herb from which cumin seeds grow is called Cuminum cyminum, which is rather fun -though not necessarily easy- to say. It might be a good band name, though. There is a precedent for bands named after spices and foods in general. (Which one is your favorite? I rather like Red Hot Chili Peppers. I really enjoyed reading the biography Scar Tissue by lead singer Anthony Kiedis. But I digress…that may be a blog topic for another day.)


Almond: Good news for all – there are many accepted ways to pronounce this word. Whether you pronounce it with the (l) sound or without,  with the (d) at the end or not, you have plenty of company so don’t let anyone tell you that you are nuts (about that, at least). The British tendency is to leave the “l” sound out and pronounce the “d” at the end. The American tendency is the opposite. Personally, I pronounce all the letters in almond. I am a real rebel, folks. You might use the word as an icebreaker: “How do YOU pronounce almond?” It might be a good way to make a new friend.


Conch: I remember encountering this word for the first time when I read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. If you haven’t read the story go do so now. I’ll wait. If you have read the story but it’s been a while, let me refresh your memory. British schoolboys become stranded on an island and develop their own system of self-governing (a term I use loosely). They find a conch and it becomes a symbol of who gets to speak at their meetings. Spoiler alert: entropy eventually wins (as usual). As for how to pronounce the word “conch”, do so at your own risk. Conch is one of those words that begs to be pronounced as it is spelled. This explains why many of us have a tendency to want to pronounce it as if it ends with the same sound as “lunch.” Those who live in climates warm enough to actually find this tropical marine mollusk and eat it for lunch will pronounce it with a hard (k) sound, as if it rhymes with “bonk” (which is exactly what they might be tempted to do to your head if you mispronounce this word!)


Chaise longue: Derived from the French for “long chair.” I have bad news for you if you pronounce it “chase lounge.” The proper pronunciation is like (shayz) with a long “a” as if it rhymes with days; longue is pronounced “long” and not the commonly mistaken “lounge.” I think next time I go poolside, I will just sit on my towel.

Even though language may not be your forte, use words correctly often enough and you may become known as the epitome of sophistication; no one can harass you for your use of language being a debacle! Check out 100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces to learn the proper pronunciation of the words I have italicized!

If you enjoy this, you may also like:

Is There a Cow in Moscow

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber & Mazlish

how to talkIf you have ever felt like the words you speak are falling on deaf ears, you may want to check out How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

The book is addressed to parents, mostly, but I have found the suggestions presented are useful in many other contexts, too. Teachers will no doubt find them useful, as well as anyone who wants to work on their communication skills or has ever had to deal with difficult people.

The authors learned many of their principles of effective communication from their teacher, Dr. Haim Ginnott, of Columbia University. They went on to hone their approach over many years through their experiences as parents and teachers.

The following principles are taken from Dr. Ginnott’s approach:

  • Never deny or ignore a [person’s] feelings.
  • Only behavior is treated as unacceptable, not the [person].
  • Depersonalize negative interactions by mentioning only the problem. “I see a [broken lightbulb].”
  • Attach rules to things, e.g., “[People] are not for hitting.”
  • Dependence breeds hostility. Let [people] do for themselves what they can.
  • Limit criticism to a specific event—don’t say “never”, “always”, as in: “You never listen,” “You always manage to break things”, etc.
  • Refrain from using words that you would not want [anyone] to repeat.
  • Ignore irrelevant behavior.

The book presents these ideas using amusing vignettes of common scenarios and how best to handle them. If you like this book, you may also be interested in the following by the same authors:

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too  

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children

Between Brothers & Sisters: A Celebration of Life’s Most Enduring Relationship

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk