Tom Reynolds (Author - 'I Hate Myself ...')
'Don't Love to Hate The Writer, Hate to Love The Songs!'
Maudlin songs have been topping charts—and tormenting listeners—since the birth of pop music.
In 'I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE' (Hyperion; May 16, 2006; Paperback Original; $12.95), Tom Reynolds explores and pokes fun at 52 of the most heart-wrenching, earsplitting songs of all time and explains why we continue to listen to them. He introduces each song, recaps its essential plot, and delivers a blow-by-blow analysis of Why It’s Depressing.
Complete with wonderfully dreary black-and-white line drawings throughout, this hilarious compilation of melodic misery will have readers laughing out loud until they sob.
How did Reynolds narrow his list to 52?
By avoiding the common misconception that sad songs and depressing songs are the same thing. In fact, sad songs offer the listener empathy, reflection, and wisdom, while depressing songs make you want to stick a Glock-9 in your mouth. Only Tom Reynolds could make such a prospect so funny.
Chatting recently with Tom, and I first wondered just how does one go from being a country-western DJ to a best-selling Author? Was there a path that could be laid out to enable others to follow in his footsteps, perhaps? "It's not so much a path as a fetid bog you have to climb out of. Nobody in their right mind works as a country-western DJ unless they're either addicted to Cuervo or immune to the steel guitar. I haven't worked in radio since. But I did get exposed to some memorable depressing music that I otherwise wouldn't have been. As far as following my footsteps, be prepared for a lot of broken shoe laces, worn-out soles, bunions, planter's warts, and blisters on the heel."
Regarding your novel 'I Hate Myself ...,' I'm wondering just where you were when this book first came to mind?! "Novel? Who am I, James Frey? It's a real non-fiction book. I didn't make up these songs. I'm not sick enough to invent something as eye-gougingly depressing as "The Christmas Shoes"."
"Seriously, an editor with a British book publishing company called and asked if I'd want to spend 12 months listening to depressing music and find 50 songs that most tempted me to feed myself to wolverines. Naturally, I said yes. I quickly discovered that there are waaaaay more than 50 depressing songs out there (the number is more like 52,0000). I had to stretch the list to 52 just to make room for Hootie and the Blowfish and that scary chick from Evanescence."
Although based on a compendium of the world’s most hideously depressing pop songs, each chapter also has the potential to enable one to laugh-out-loud! How easy was it to mix a realistically serious subject matter with comedy ... especially on paper and without any opportunity to offer explanatory rebukes should anyone get offended? "There was no way I could approach writing this book without utilising humor as a vehicle to describe the songs. So many of these songs are so dispiriting and soul-crushing, the only way you can deal with them is to laugh at them. But I also examine them very closely, going through the lyrics, chord structure, bridges, even the instrumentation. I recognize cheap devices, like those head-splitting key changes near the end of nearly every 90s pop ballad by Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. I call them BCMs, short for Brain Concussion Modulations."
"As for offending people, I've been viciously attacked by a couple of reviewers who think Smashing Pumpkins walk on water and Trent Reznor can cure the blind, so that my satiric critiques are somehow sacriligious. But why are we obligated to kiss rock star ass? I'd like to point out that most of the icons in this book wield far more cultural influence than our elected officials. I don't see any difference between a Senate Majority leader and Robert Smith of The Cure, except the latter uses more eye liner."
Which of the chapters is your personal favorite and why? "Hmm, tough question. I'm very proud of the book as a whole but if I had to select some favorite chapters, I'd say "The End" by The Doors, "The River" by Bruce Springsteen, "My Immortal" by Evanescence, and "Send In The Clowns" by, well, anyone who sings that f***king song. Of the four, the Springsteen chapter will likely offend the most because apparently Bruce has never written a tedious song, something I wasn't aware of."
So, what's more gratifying: Seeing your book attain the #1 slot on the best sellers chart or producing training films and low-budget TV commercials for car dealers?! "Oh, working in corporate video and cable, of course. That #3 spot on the best-seller list in Ireland in August of last year (seriously) means nothing next to the visceral joy of having a car dealer named Sal screaming into a camera about 2.3 APR financing with the purchase of a new Chevy 4-by-4."
"Some of my other masterpieces include "Safety Rules and Hazardous Chemicals in the AC Polyethlyene Unit" The New York Times called it "......a bewildering jargon-heavy production about some toxic shit that's used in plastic. I didn't understand a word of it." We're working on a Director's cut for DVD release."
It's been said that because you became bi-polar that word spread and you were subsequently asked to write a book about depressing music! How close to the truth is this and if I am indeed talking to someone who is bi-polar (ie: prone to dramatic mood swings) which side of the personality am I chatting with today ... and if it had been the other one how many of the answers would have been different?! "Though I tend to be melancholy at times, I think you're being very presumptuous to assume that those rumors about my being bi-polar and prone to "dramatic mood swings" have any validity whatso-........Excuse me a second......HEY! YOU!! GET YOUR #$%& DOG OUT OF MY YARD!!!! ASSHOLE!!! I'LL RIP YOUR SPLEEN OUT!!! ........Sorry, where was I?"
Are you already working on your next book, perhaps? "I'm putting together a couple of non-fiction book proposals, yes. I've been strongly encouraged NOT to attempt a novel. I've recently learned nobody reads novels anymore unless they're about teenage wizards or guys getting murdered in museums by albino monks."
Finally, it's also been quoted that writing this book was a cathartic experience for you. Please explain this more and what it meant to you to vent in such a published manner! "What's cathartic is being able to get medieval on so many songs that've been tormenting listeners for years, sometimes decades. I realize I'm not making any friends with most of the people whose songs I profile (especially Carole Bayer Sager), but with so much good music out there that's powerful and moving without compelling you to gnaw your arm off, I think readers should be alerted to the gloomy horror that many of these songs offer."
"And yes, there are a lot of songs I didn't include, something which is still a source of contention among lachrymose music aficianados. I've learned that not including the Smiths in a book about depressing songs is like leaving the Resurrection out of the New Testament."
If you would like to win a copy of Tom's new book 'I Hate Myself and Want To Die,' just answer this easy question: One of the ten genres of depressing songs is called 'She Hates Me, I Hate Her' ... but please name a song mentioned in that chapter that features Ben Folds Five?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new books! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title 'I HATE MYSELF BOOK GIVEAWAY' to: email@example.com
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