Thu 26 Apr 2007
Yesterday was ANZAC Day, and it is a day that looms large in the Australian psyche. Why is it that we always retell the story of Gallipoli, an overwhelming Australian defeat in the first World War? In some way, while failure is pathetic, it is somehow heroic. And the recent book club selection had a similar message.
A cathartic tale of musical dreams crushed.
This is Neil McCormick’s autobiography. We learn that from a young age, his life’s ambition is to be lead singer in a world renowned pop group. Although we all have crazy ideas, and our friends set us straight, McCormick has the misfortune to be school-friends with Bono. Yes, that Bono.
Since you’ve never heard of McCormick, it’s not giving anything away to say that he never became world famous. However, the story of his musical disasters set against the rising star of Bono and U2 is quite incredible. Even if you’re not a U2 fan, this is a very engaging book that quickly sucks you in with intimate and honest details of the band before its mega-success, behind-the-scenes in the record (as it was at the time) business, and the unbelievable bad luck that seems to follow McCormick.
I don’t normally make a habit of reading autobiographies, but this one had a special magic that attracted me to it. McCormick is not some star-struck U2 fan, but apparently a genuine friend of Bono’s, who writes the Forward in the book. His take on the rewards, ravages and addiction of fame is particularly well-informed, and left me with hope, despite his own failure.
The websites listed at the back of the book have ceased working, but if you read the book, you really should listen to some of his music. It will allow you to judge for yourself if he had the stuff to make it really big. The following links are from the Internet Archive:
You may also want to check out his CD on Amazon.co.uk as it sounds like it would make a fine companion piece to the book. Ghost Who Walks is the name that he releases his music under, but the picture there is definitely him.