Based in the recommendation of David Kernohan I bought a copy and devoured “Things the Grandchildren Should Know”, the life obstacle overcoming journey of Mark Oliver Everett, the man behind The Eels.

Before David played a long set of Eels, my limited by very satisfying exposure was the haunting Novocaine for the Soul, a frequent player in my shuffle.

Everett was lost in what rolls off as a dysfunctional family- withdrawn father scientist, absent attention mother, and a sister who moved through every flavor of abuse before killing herself. He lost all of his family as his success climbed, and it was music that saved and drove him.

I cannot say it was quite as Vonnegut like as some reviewers say, but I can see a bit why the flitting and sardonic writing style might suggest it. But I am no literary critic. Maybe I am, as I just used the word “sardonoc” (a first) (and a second).

With each family loss, Everett should have fallen deeper, but seems to find more awareness, especially after losing his mom:

Standing in the dark outside the house
Breathing in the cold and sterile air
Well I was thinking how it must feel
To see that little light
And watch it as it disappears
And fades into
And fades into the night.

This hits me even more as I write the words out of the book and reflect on my own loss.

Of course it is a book of hope, and that outsiders can make it, and the power of sticking to what you believe and love. That is obvious. Everett seems to be true to himself all the way through, not perfect, but he heads for a future despite the weight he carries.

The title of course is odd, since Everett has no kids nor grandkids (but did manage to confuse reporters who asked the question).

We can all make guesses as to what the title mean, but as it is the close of the book and a sing, there is a lot of closure on the lyrics, and understanding:

So in the end i’d like to say
That i’m a very thankful man
I tried to make the most of my situations
And enjoy what i had
I knew true love and i knew passion
And the difference between the two
And i had some regrets
But if i had to do it all again
Well, it’s something i’d like to do

Well said, indeed. I’m thinking of this and would like to do as much the first time around.

Thanks @kernohan for the reccomendation, next I am to dive more into the music!

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Glad you enjoyed it – it’s a book that I’ve read a fair few times and always gotten a lot out of. I did enjoy the economy of his writing style – the story of his life is so amazing he could probably have done it any way he pleased, but the simplicity really brings out the themes.

    May I recommend the albums “Electro-Shock Blues” and “Daisies of The Galaxy” as next steps for an Eels neophyte?

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