Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Michael Lydon: The Bitingly Fine Quality of Great Music Writing

This guy, Michael Lydon, wrote two of the best things I ever read about Chuck Berry.  The first I encountered was the liner copy on "Back Home," where he compared Chuck Berry to my other hero, Charlie Chaplin, and where he said that Chuck's guitar had "the bitingly fine quality of etched steel:" a perfect description of the guitar on songs like "Back Home's" "Fish and Chips" and "Instrumental."  (In other moods, with other recording engineers, Chuck's guitar has the bitingly fine quality of a railroad airhorn backed by a military spot.)
The other wonderful thing he wrote was an article about Chuck Berry for Ramparts magazine back in the 1960s.  My brother brought Ramparts into our home, and that copy sat around until I discovered Chuck Berry myself a few years later.  What a treat.  It told the story about Lydon's attempted meeting with Berry at Berry Park.  Didn't exactly work out.  One line from the story has stood out for me as distinctly as the etched steel line: as he shuts down the interview before it even starts, Mr. Berry says something like: "Standing in the sun ain't my shot."  I think that line all the time-- but it just wouldn't sound right coming from my mouth.  The Ramparts story was later published in Lydon's bood "Rock Folk," which can still be found on  Bought mine about a year ago.  The book includes other good stories-- one about B.B. King stands out for me.

Here's his website:

1 comment:

Michael Lydon said...

Hey hey! THanks for this!! So amazing to find something like this on Sunday afternoon. Chuck is great, glad he is still going.

Write me if you get a minute. I've got other books, and I've been playing for years! (my maikl is on my website--I don't use my site email address much

Wher are you, Peter? I'm in NYC. Are you a musician? Writer?

Many good wishes, and thanks for the great plug!!