This is my quick review of Bob Mould's See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody. I'm late to the party--this book was published in 2011 while I was living overseas. I discovered it over the weekend and read it about as quickly as I could.
Kick ass book. If you care about independent music, it's a must-read.
Finally, someone with a sense of wonder appraises the independent music scene of the 1980s and can explain how it all worked (cheaply, and through word of mouth, and by wringing every dollar out of every club owner, and living from hand to mouth). Mould doesn't just hold forth on himself or what he did with his band. He looks at the scene and explains how they survived long drives, not getting paid, and being screwed over for mechanical royalties.
He mixes the business with the personal, and never lets himself off the hook. If you followed the demise of Husker Du, he explains what happened. He tells his side (and you have to go find Grant Hart's side of it, if you can) and he leaves it up to you. I've always wondered what it was that broke up the band, and you can find the answers here. Maybe it will inspire you to find other answers, but, really, all you need to know is, the thing had run its course. And Mould takes you through several times in his life when things came down to a final break and a final decision. As an artist, he has lived ten lives in all of these different cities and he's constantly striving to make something work and to make sense of what's going on. If he's not the most important musician of his generation, who is?
God, what a book about integrity can do for your soul. I read this and it was harrowing. It was heartbreaking. It had all of the makings of a depressing book. What it leaves you with is an uplifting spirit. Mould chases his demons, explains them, arranges them, and leaves it up to you to judge him. He is done judging himself. He's done living with compromises and with the whole notion of hiding who he is. He's out there making wonderful music. Fuck everything else.