For Fuck’s Sake! - by Robert Nelly Hunter
Robert ‘Nelly’ Hunter (presumably named for his elephantine ability to remember events that should rightly be lost forever in a fog of alcohol) has written one of the funniest books about rock’n’roll that I’ve ever read, a ruthless dissection of the squalid joys of low-level touring that should be given to every young punk who dreams of ‘making it big’ to show them how their dreams stack up against the real world.
Taking in his life’s journey through punk, from teenaged fan to band member to tour driver, FFS’s tales sometimes take on a Groundhog Day-esque feel, with drunken shenanigans, vans dying or falling to bits and promoters being a bit crap with alarming regularity. But all of this perfectly captures exactly what touring is like when you’ve got ‘one foot on the bottom rung of the rock’n’roll ladder’, as Nelly would have it.
If I had to compare this book to something similar, it would be Henry Rollins’s Get In The Van, about his early touring experiences with Black Flag, but much funnier and with far less violence. One thing that really comes across in FFS is that Nelly isn’t a man who holds grudges for long; wages fail to materialise, promoters are laughably shite, studios come up with cunning plans to part him from his cash etc etc, and Nelly just seems to shrug it off and looks for the next thing. It’s a reminder to us all that we should maybe be more Zen about our too-short time here on Earth.
For me, my absolute favourite bit of this book is the chapter where circumstances (and the Lurkers) have led Nelly and his fellow punk journeyman Billy G to the streets of Japan’s capital city, and they both stand pissing themselves laughing at the madness of it all. - “We’re in Tokyo, man, Billy, FUCKING TOKYO!” It’s a genuinely heartwarming moment, and in these turbo-grim days that we’re all struggling to get through right now, it shows that even your weirdest dreams - or the things that you didn’t even dare to dream about - can sometimes come true. What a fucking great book, hats off to him.