John Sellers – Perfect From Now On

My brother-in-law awesomely got me this book for Christmas. ‘Cos I asked for it. ‘Cos it’s (mostly) about Guided By Voices, and that’s ‘nuff said! Thanks, Dude!

Faithful KMA Readers know well by now that I love Guided By Voices. And so does John Sellers, the author of this particular music-geek book, Perfect From Now On. And what am I doing to show my own love for the band? I’m… writing this post. Hm.

Anyway, this book is a fun read, for the most part. It starts with his discovery that iTunes tracks the number of times each song in your playlist is played, and his realization that he plays GBV far more often than he’d been aware.

Throughout the text, he band-bonds with the reader by name-dropping just about every alternative group imaginable. I suppose this is an effort to establish some credibility with fellow music-geeks as much as it is meant to let the reader know from whence he’s coming (and probably to pad out a bit of space to meet his publisher’s word count requirement, too). But he’s self-deprecating enough to be able to point out what he missed when it was happening (he admits to not paying attention to GBV until 2002, ferchrissakes!), and why he disliked some things that other people loved. He makes lists (and indeed there is an Appendix dedicated to them), just like that guy in High Fidelity. Just like I do, on this site. Yeah, he’s a fan boy, pure and simple.

It starts getting really good when he travels to Ohio to see some of the last-ever GBV shows, attending Monument Club (which basically involves going to Pollard’s house and consuming a lot of beer) along the way, and even singing one verse of I Am A Scientist on-stage with the Man Himself. I’d probably pass out from the sheer bliss of such a moment (even before the beer got me). Oh, and he got to go to the last-ever GBV show on New Year’s Eve 2004 in Chicago, too. Lucky bastard. I got to see The Electrifying Conclusion DVD, of course, but being there would have been out of this world.

My only real complaint about this book is on a personal note, and has nothing to do with anyone else enjoying the book if and when you read it (and you should, it’s worth it). To me, there was entirely too much about the Smiths and Joy Division in these pages. I realize that that is the music he (also) loves from his formative years, but to me that mopey shite is the auditory equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. All deference, of course. It’s just not for me, and going on for pages (and in a zillion footnotes – there’s another complete book here, in the footnotes alone… so much for editing) about pilgrimages to shitty English towns to ultimately not even see what he sought (duh) was unutterably boring. I skipped large sections of this stuff.

But as I said, to each their own. You can have your Cure and your New Order and you can bloody well keep them. Best to you, but I really don’t care. And I suppose I should just write my own book about the bands I like instead of just needlessly sitting here and shooting down part of this guy (whom I’ve never met)’s taste in music. Maybe I will someday write a book. Until then, you get these posts. Lucky you.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this book immensely. Sellers seems like a guy with whom I could drink and talk music, and his conversational writing style made it seem like I kinda already did, as I was reading. The fact that he loves GBV as much as I do made the book a must-read for me, and I’d say if you have even a passing interest in such things, you’d do well to go and get a copy for yourselves.


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