BOOK REVIEW: ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY’S SINS BUT NOT MINE

I opened up the pink and green colored paperback book, featuring a uniquely designed manipulated photo of Elvis Presley and what I believe to be Lisa-Marie and by doing a  minuscule amount of research found out that the pink and green colors used for the artwork and lettering of the book’s cover is reminiscent of the record album Elvis Presley recorded in around 1955 when Elvis moved to record label RCA VICTOR after Sam Phillips sold Presley’s contract for $35,000 plus $5,000 Phillips owed Elvis in back royalties. This was the largest sum of money any single recording artist had made up until that point and Elvis Presley was the man! One can kind of see how punk rock recording artist and frontman of the pre-punk outfit The Deviants, as well as writer Mick Farren chose to not only spend a decent portion of his rock ‘n’ roll memoir-autobiographical-pop culture-music-related-style of collected writings, stories, articles, and lyrics on talking about the late Elvis Presley and how much he meant to him (author Mick Farren told a psychiatrist he wanted to be Elvis Presley), but also topics covering a gambit of uniquely interesting topics all with a twist and splash of punk-rock ethics and rock ‘n’ roll attitude to boot!

The book starts out with a forward by Charles Shaar Murray and a preface by Felix Dennis, both praising the man while giving a wee bit of insight into what readers may come to find out about Mick Farren in reading this book, but also reminding readers (especially those who are oblivious to the man, his accomplishments, and what he has contributed to society musically or literarily (this being taken to interpretation of what one feels Farren has given to us—a profound gift or a virus) but most definitely explicitly. Farren is a writer whose name I shall now commit to memory and never forget because after reading ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY’S SINS BUT NOT MINE, this reader now is familiar with the humor, wit, and at times some very revolutionary ideas and rhetoric somewhat reminiscent of the late and great political and social activist Abbie Hoffman (author of STEAL THIS BOOK which this reader has read and recommends highly to other readers).

I found most of Farren’s rants on the government amusing, as well as extremely accurate in some regards to the police and how they deal with what they perceive to be singled-out trouble makers and anarchists to the state. This is most apparent in Farren’s first piece for IT (International Times) (in part one of the book) in which the oppression by authorities is dealt with in a piece entitled “Pop In A Police State“. It shows the beginning of Farren’s writing and the article is reprinted in its entirety within the book. This particular piece really catches the feel and tone of the ’60s and how revolutionary a time period for the young and educated it really was. This reminded me the most of revolutionary Abbie Hoffman specifically.

After all, in the book’s incredible opening introduction “Ghost Dancer”  brings into focus many, if not all. of the atrocities the white man has brought to this planet and other peoples’ cultures and way of life. It depicts a timeline starting with Native Americans and progressing all the way up to the Atomic Bomb, WW2, the Cold War, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Communism, censorship in China, the birth of the internet, Facebook, MySpace, blogspheres, and websites. Holy Fuck! That in itself is a great deal of information and periods of history to process and lull over. When one researches further through books or the internet, digging further to what Farren has briefly just touched upon, it opens the floodgates to a far greater topic of discussion concerning the slaughter of the Native Americans. If anything, one will be able to use the writing in Farren’s book as a starting point or jumping ground to leap into other topics of concern and enlightenment.

If one likes a dose of rock ‘n’ roll mixed into their politics and history, ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY’S SINS…is the book for them. Myself loving to read about history and even sometimes the evil politics of this day and age, Farren has an uncanny ability to make even some of the less interesting or utterly banal topics have a bit of spunk and zest mixed into the writing. Not just some “fucking this” or “fucking that”, but actual intelligent and biting humor laced with sarcastic wit and actual knowledge and interpretation of the subject-matter at hand—at least he seems to know what the hell he is talking about!

Farren talking about Jim Morrison, whom he only saw perform twice and when seeing Morrison offstage said “he gave the appearance of a man who was acting in his own private movie”…”while there was even one person around to watch , Morrison performed.” Such observations as this are what shows that Farren’s writing and observations are pretty damn keen on detail and understanding one’s behaviors. My only knowledge of Jim Morrison comes from watching Val Kilmer’s performance and portrayal of him in Oliver Stone’s THE DOORS. Whether that is an accurate rendition of him, I don’t really know. Too be honest, my first exposure to Morrison was Oliver Stone’s epic rock film, as well as my first time in a movie theater under the age of 17 watching an R-Rated film and seeing total and complete frontal female nudity. Nervously, I sat in the theater with my buddy Dave waiting for the T&A police to storm in and drag our 15-year old asses right out of the theater and throw us in the lock-up, awaiting our sentence passed down from our parents. Well, my parents anyways. I don’t think my buddy’s parents really gave two-shits about what the hell he watched outside of the home.

One other component to Farren’s writing and style of the book is that he publishes parts of essays and pieces that he wrote for various publications regarding various key events in the world of music and politics such as his (Farren’s) feelings when Che Guevara was murdered in a previously unpublished paragraph. This format of writing and paragraphs in the book give it the feeling of reading someone’s personal diary at times, or private journal. One really feels as if they are cracking into the skull and head of Mick Farren. Even a Chuck Berry interview where Chuck Berry hardly says 1o sentences in response to Farren’s line of questioning. The insightful padding of the interview with Farren’s comments and thoughts are uniquely compelling, more interesting than anything Chuck Berry did or didn’t say.

Throw in the mix some John Lennon, Marlon Brando, cults, 2012 prophecies (which now that the date is well into 2013, we know the Mayans were wrong), post-apocalyptic short stories that a few of which were very entertaining, a whole mess of anti-Bush segments (such an easy target), Elvis (of course!), Mick’s band the Deviants and some song lyrics, and one of my favorite chapters on one of the world’s most misread characters in the Bible, SATAN—one is in store for one hell of an eclectic read. Various styles, stories, viewpoints, and narratives are collected in a meaty 419 page book. Sadly, there are no pictures except the illustrations done by Michael Robinson at the beginning of each part, but this book is all about the words and what they say to each reader. I can say with great conviction that each and every one that reads ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY’S SINS BUT NOT MINE will get something completely different, and totally the same after reading this book. The segments will all mean something unique to each reader. Mick Farren will be seen as something to one reader and something else to another reader. Frankly, I found the doomsday segments ending the book to be quite a downer, but as any good book one reads that has to come to an end, why not have an ending that is prophetically doomy and why not  reiterate that fact a few times and hit that point right on the head harder with each gloomy story.

Too many books have happy endings and anyone that has lived life knows that probably more-often-than-not, life sucks sometimes. Mick Farren is a man whose name has been forever cemented into my brain and whose previous and upcoming work will be sought out and read. I implore readers–I implore YOU–to find this book and give it a shot…because most likely the book will be giving you a SHOT!

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