I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease and General Misadventure, as Related in Popular Song

Front Cover
Bloomsbury Academic, Aug 15, 2008 - Music - 272 pages
10 Reviews
Ask the gangsta rap devotee. Ask the grizzled blues fanatic and the bearded folk fan. Ask the goth and the indie kid. Ask and they will all tell you the same thing: death and popular music have forever danced hand-in-hand in funereal waltz time. The pop charts and the majority of radio stations' playlists may conspire to convince anyone listening that the world spins on its axis to the tune of "I love you, you love me" and traditional matters of the heart. The rest of us know that we live in a world where red roses will one day become lilies and that death is the motor that drives the greatest and most exhilarating music of all.

"Death music" is not merely a byword for bookish solemnity, or the glorification of murder, drugs and guns. Over the course of the last hundred years it has also been about teenage girls weeping over their high school boyfriend's fatal car wreck; natural disasters sweeping whole communities away; the ever-evolving threat of disease; changing attitudes to old age; exhortations to suicide; the perfect playlist for a funeral; and the thorny question of what happens after the fat lady ceases to sing. Which means that for every "Black Angel's Death Song" there is a "Candle in the Wind," and for every "Cop Killer" there is "The Living Years." Death, like music, is a unifying force. There is something for every taste and inclination, from murderous vengeance to camp sentimentality and everything in between.

Drawing upon original and unique interviews with artists such as Mick Jagger, Richard Thompson, Ice-T, Will Oldham and Neil Finn among many others, I Shot a Man In Reno explores how popular music deals with death, and how it documents the changing reality of what death means as one grows older. It's as transfixing as a train wreck, and you won't be able to put it down. as an epilogue, I Shot A Man In Reno presents the reader with the 40 greatest death songs of all time, complete with a brief rationale for each, acting as a primer for the morbidly curious listener.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
0
4 stars
5
3 stars
2
2 stars
3
1 star
0

Review: I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease and General Misadventure, as Related in Popular Song

User Review  - Gina - Goodreads

The book was at times funny, and generally interesting, but it was also often frustrating and annoying. At first I was going through it too slowly because I was trying to keep up with the different ... Read full review

Review: I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease and General Misadventure, as Related in Popular Song

User Review  - Paul - Goodreads

Note - my actual review of this book is now here http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... *********** One day I'll review this book properly, it's a great subject, but until then here's a little ... Read full review

Contents

WHO WANTS TO LIVE
192
TO DIE FOR
211
NOTES ON SOURCES
231
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Graeme Thomson is a regular contributor to The Word, the Observer, Time Out, the Herald and the Sunday Herald. He is the author of Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello (Canongate, 2004) and Willie Nelson: The Outlaw (Virgin Books, 2006). He lives in Edinburgh.

Bibliographic information