When Giles Smith wrote this book, he never imagined that twenty years later it would be translated into other languages. The writer’s first creative drive was not writing but pop music. It did not work out though. The bands he founded never achieved the success he was dreaming of. He accepted that Bob Geldof would never go to his wedding, he would never have Sting’s real estate and that his nature of devoted fan was not the same that had carved the image of people such as XTC’s Andy Partridge or Elvis Costello. As soon as he got up from the piano and put the guitar down, he picked up a pencil and began to write. About music. As the fan he is. With passion, honesty and no shame. Spilling out secrets, if necessary. Overflowing with a pop fan’s landscape, and jokes, well, not jokes, personal catastrophes, as if Nick Hornby had just watched all three season of Louie in one go. Plus the extras.
Lost in Music. A Pop Odyssey is his story. Giles Smith’s story. The life of a young man from Colchester –one of those places where showing off can bring you a bit of smack downs– who manages to become a musician. Well, not a musician, a pop star –Smith has big megalomaniac dreams– living a loose and luxuriant life. The voice of a dreamer who seems to be asking for permission to tell his story –that same innocence and supposed lack of transcendence of pop music– and who is capable of writing memorable chapters when he lets go. It is all written in the first person, through adolescence and youth and whatever comes next, but with the perspective of that next: that stage from where the writer can look back without anger or pain, just humor.
Indeed, this is a book about pop music. But it is not about the story of pop music or the genres and styles and the types of distortion pedals Brian May used at the Watersmein concert; it is a book about how music speaks to you, about how it changes you, about how it gets inside you and becomes one of the biggest loves and obsessions a human being can feel and bear. And it does not matter that the bands that defined his youth are not the same that speak to you, as long as you have the same passion as that little boy who used to hide in his room to pretend he was playing the most incredible guitar solo in history, scraping away at a tennis racket.
In the end, his failure turns into a book full of empathy, rhythm, confessions, laughs and colors. The story of this failure sure is a win. Success be damned! Beckett used to say: you have to fail, or fail again. Or fail better. Or something like that