Need a stocking-stuffer for a music fan in your life? Pick up The Rock Bible by Henry Owings. I was checking it out at my favorite record store and had to buy it after chuckling to myself in the aisle for about twenty minutes.
The Rock Bible begins (if you skip the Preface, Introduction, and A Little Rock Bible Essay) with a chapter appropriately titled Genesis that is as concise a history of rock and roll as you are likely to find anywhere. The beginning material is engaging enough, but the book really shines in the “Gospel According to” chapters that hand down the hard won rock and roll wisdom and unshakable truths of the rock gods.
Gospels are presented for the Drummer, the Guitar and Bass Players, the Singer, the Keyboardist, the Band, the Crew, and the Fan. The Gospels are typically written as one sentence “verses” – numbered for easy quoting – with supplemental material thrown in as comedy dictates. For instance, there is a handy guide to words that should not be used in your band name, words that are played out in rock criticism, and words that are underused by music critics – like “results oriented.”
Some of the Truths revealed within the pages will settle ageless arguments while others will establish the doctrines that should have been sacred in the first place. For example, the Cardinal Rules laid out in the Gospel According to the Fan clearly state that you may not listen to the band that you are going to see in the car on your way to the show – period; conversely, it is completely appropriate to do so on the way home. Argument settled. Also: don’t even think about wearing a shirt for the band that you are going to see. Speaking of t-shirts, you can not buy a Ramones shirt unless you can name all of the original members and at least five songs. It’s Gospel.
Very occasionally, The Rock Bible begins to feel like an SNL sketch that has gone on too long. Don’t panic! It is only a temporary situation, the next piece of hilarity is right around the corner. Keep reading.
Definitely check this book if you are in a band or spend a lot of your valuable time appreciating live music/talking about music with your music nerd friends. If that’s not you, spend some time getting your priorities straight then come back to it.
Full disclosure: While we try our best to always be objective here at BGB, I feel that I should note that I have been photographed sitting on the author’s lap. Should a man sitting on another man’s lap necessarily void claims of objectivity? I don’t know. Ask the Poynter Institute. As a result of sharing that picture, I was pointed to the “Random Rules” column in The Onion that features the author (the comments are hilarious). I should also point out that Henry Owings runs Chunklet Magazine, which I think is based here in Atlanta. Or at least Henry Owings is. So, you know, support your locals.