Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

Just finished and greatly enjoyed reading the enthusiastic musings about music in Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. The Roots drummer/Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon bandleader loves music (and music reviews) as much as any of us music geeks do. Plus any book with anecdotes about Prince is automatically awesome.

I do wish the book had gone into more detail about the record label drama surrounding “You Got Me” from the Things Fall Apart album, particularly how Jill Scott reacted to being replaced on her own song by Erykah Badu. But I suppose Questlove didn’t feel that was his story to tell. I would also have liked to know more about the writing and recording of the song, which features not only The Roots and Erykah Badu but also rapping by a then relatively unknown Eve. “You Got Me” is not only one of my favorite songs of all time, it was one of my very first mp3 downloads and possibly my most frequently played mp3 since I’ve had it so long. Video below.

One of the many relatable and thought provoking portions of the unusual memoir is when Questlove ponders his role as a musical “tastemaker,” particularly what subconscious (or socially conscious) motives may influence his choice to like and/or promote certain artists. He asks himself whether he genuinely loves a band or if he embraces them simply for the critical cachet they carry – a question I’m certain every music fan, critic or not, has wrestled with at some point. I know I have.

Meghan O’Rourke: The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Meghan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye is a touching memoir regarding her mother’s death. The New York poet wraps the raw emotion of such a somber subject in graceful and eloquent prose. Meghan shares the various intense emotions she experienced during her mother’s battle with cancer and the agonizing void left in her mother’s absence. As she describes it, “A person was present your entire life, and then one day she disappeared and never came back. It resisted belief.

Recommended to me by Sonya Cotton, the book connected with me in a very personal way. I prefer not to reveal much about myself here, so I won’t go into details. I will say, though, that I’m always shocked when anyone says they’ve never lost a loved one or been to a funeral….both have been such frequent events throughout my life that mourning has been intricately woven into my childhood and adolescent memories.

The book also examines the way certain cultures embrace mourning to the point of ritual while others shun it completely, and how a person’s community affects their expression (or suppression) of grief. It is by no means a happy read, but it is beautifully written and brings a sense of emotional kinship and solace to those of us who have known loss.