OK I've procrastinated long enough. I have intentionally put off writing this review simply because...I cannot even come close to capturing the hilarity and delight I experienced in listening to this autobiography. There are too many quotes, too many stories...especially when I listened to the audio and couldn't mark the passages. So I'm just going to throw it out there.
Synopsis: Despite what one thinks of Rod Stewart...that he is a womanizer, that he is a great singer or a sellout...you cannot deny that he is iconic. Everything about him is memorable - his hair, his voice, his women. This story of his life, told in his own words, captures it all with his self-deprecating but unapologetic cocksure attitude.
While he admits to not being a complete natural with the guitar or his voice, he was determined to make a go at it. He certainly had a sense of fashion and developed his famous "bouf" early on, and made up for his lack of talent with his moxie and charisma. He recounts his days with The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces, and then splitting off with his solo career and striking gold with "Maggie May" (which he almost threw away because he didn't think it was any good). Some of the work he was proud of, and some (like "Do You Think I'm Sexy") were what he liked to call "a pink toilet seat hung around your neck for the rest of your life".
But his romps off-stage are as equally bawdy and entertaining. His friendships with Elton John and Ronnie Wood (who went on to play with The Stones), leaving his trademark scribblings of an upside-down penis on anything and everything he touched, the drugs, the addiction to fast cars, supermodels and European football...the lifestyle of an out-of-control rock-and-roller. Did he shake his bum too much on stage? No! That was part of his job description, as he saw it.
He debunks a few famous rumors, such as the fact that he played professional football, was once a gravedigger, and that he had to have his stomach pumped after servicing a group of drunk sailors (that was the work of an angry ex-publicist).
He shows his soft side as well. His attachment to his parents and his concern for their opinion of his actions. His collection of train sets. His brush with thyroid cancer. His love for his kids. He looks back on his antics with the world-weary eyes of a man who has finally grown up and shakes his head at all the foolishness. He makes no bones about it, he states "this clearly was the behavior of an asshole". But now? Having settled down with Penny Lancaster for the last 6 years, he has "put his last banana in the fruit bowl".
My thoughts: I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard while reading or listening to a book. I'm talking out loud, weaving all over the road laughing. Rod is SO British, so dry and proper but so matter-of-fact about his crazy life, it just tickled me from the first disc to the last.
This is not at all what I expected. To be honest, while Rod sang the music of my youth, I didn't have much respect for the guy. Over the last half of his career particularly, I had noticed that all he really did was perform other people's songs. That he was some old has-been dating supermodels young enough to be his daughter. That he was cocky and full of himself. But I came away almost a little in love with him. He is smart, has a talented way with words, and very honest good-humored about his missteps.
The stories were insane but stuff that you cannot make up. The fact that the girls in the band The Go-Go's could "snort the lacquer off a table"? But they were so cute! Or when Elton John got married (because he thought it was the right thing to do) and Rod asked him how he was going to handle activities in the bedroom, and Sir Elton answers "I don't know, I guess I'll just tie a couple of lolly sticks around it". Ha! I could go on and on. Rod was a font of one-liners.
The icing on the cake in this whole scenario, however was the narrator...
A few words about the audio production: Simon Vance. Good Lord, he is SUCH a good narrator under any circumstances. But Simon as Rod? It sounded like Simon had lived this life. He delivers a smooth, flawless dialog, as if it were his own words, with that dry, British comedic timing. I'm not sure if I would have ever considered listening to this audio had it not been for Simon. Altogether, the package was a home run.
Audio book length: 11 hours and 21 minutes (400 pages)
5 out of 5 stars