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A CURE FOR GRAVITY, by Joe Jackson

by Evan Pritchard

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The feeling that comes from performing your own music before an enthusiastic audience is like being suspended in midair, floating. It's as if you've found a cure for gravity. At least that's how Joe Jackson describes his experience during the first Joe Jackson Band show in his hometown of Portsmouth, England. A Cure for Gravity is his memoir of how he got to that show, and some of the events following it.

Only some of the events, because Jackson stops when things become "a matter of public record," as he puts it. The story ends in 1978-79, which is when Look Sharp!, his first album, was recorded and released. As a big fan of Jackson's, I would have liked some more discussion of what came after that. Specifically, I would have liked some more about the music he's made after that first band broke up.

Jackson is very candid about himself and his life. Two of the more interesting tidbits about him are that he was born David Ian Jackson, with Joe being thrust upon him later as a nickname when he was in Edward Bear. And he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London with a concentration not in piano, the instrument he's most known for, or composition, though he was interested in writing his own music right from the start and considers himself a composer more than anything else. No, his concentration is in percussion. It's not that easy to play the triangle, you know.

Nevertheless, A Cure for Gravity is a good book for anyone - Jackson fans or not - who is interested in music, especially popular music. I say popular music for lack of a better term. Jackson was never exclusively interested in popular music, and it wasn't his first love either. It was hearing a concert of Beethoven's Ninth symphony that was the shazam moment in his life, putting him on a musical path. But Jackson had a number of gigs playing popular music or one sort or another. These included playing with the pop/rock band Edward Bear. (When they got to the point of recording some songs was changed to Edwin Bear and then Arms and Legs, because there was an Edward Bear in Canada that had already made an album.) He also had a stint as musical director for Koffee'n'Kreme, a cabaret act, and a gig as the pianist for the Portsmouth Playboy club (yes, THAT Playboy, and THAT Portsmouth), as well as playing in several school related bands and orchestras.

Although the book is about Jackson's experiences, it's really a book about music, why it's important, and how it can be a cure for gravity.

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