Book Review: Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself

Book Review: Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself
All Access Rating: A-

Billy Idol - Dancing With Myself 2014
Wearing their political idealism on their sleeves, the Clash had righteousness on their side. For the Sex Pistols, shock and savage nihilism made them the scourge of Old Blighty before burning out.

Knowing full well that both bands had the market cornered on railing against injustice with all the filth and fury they could muster, Billy Idol wanted to be different.

A lascivious sneer, chiseled features and spiky, dyed blonde hair would only get him so far, so Idol made a conscious decision to emphasize punk's life-affirming power, its positivity and what a blast it was to be nonconformist, to be part of a scene that rejected most societal norms. And Idol certainly had his fun, indulging in the "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" ethos with reckless abandon and documenting it all in his engrossing and disarmingly candid autobiography "Dancing With Myself," out via the Simon & Schuster imprint Touchstone.

It reads as fast as Idol has lived, "Dancing With Myself" being a high-octane narrative that's surprisingly literate, recounting – often in graphic detail, including a rather amusing adventure in "fisting" that left Idol with a swollen hand – the all-night heroin and sex binges, tense and often violent confrontations in the nascent U.K. punk scene with conservative Teddy Boys or fascist skinheads, and close brushes with death. It all starts with a depiction of the gruesome 1990 motorcycle accident Idol miraculously survived, jeopardizing his life and career.

Unexpectedly vulnerable at times, especially when talking openly about his addictions, family relations and his love for girlfriend Perri Lister, Idol is a study in contradiction, wholly engaged in musical experimentation with Generation X and later a solo career that made him a global dance-rock icon while satisfying his more lurid appetites for mind-altering chemicals and sexual adventure. "Dancing With Myself" throws the reader back into the maelstrom of the early U.K. punk scene, not only detailing Idol's transition from the band Chelsea to Generation X and his move to America to go off on his own, but also painting a revolting picture of clubs and bathrooms covered in all sorts of bodily fluids while fully capturing the zeitgeist of youth culture and rebellion in late '70s Britain. His fraternizations with Steve Jones, Siouxsie Sioux and Mick Jones, among other architects of punk rock, certainly make for entertaining passages.

While regaling his audience with tales of utter depravity and uplifting recovery, Idol provides a full accounting of the creative process that birthed such smash hits as "White Wedding," "Dancing With Myself" and "Mony Mony" and behind-the-scenes music industry machinations. It's a wild ride, but one that also has a great deal of heart, romance and self-reflection. Let's dance.
– Peter Lindblad

No comments:

Post a Comment