Neil Strauss and I: Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead

Neil Strauss’ work is one of the reasons why I bother to write. Though far-fetched, I wish to be like him in the future. One day he’s talking with Marilyn Manson, then Paul McCartney on another. Then Oasis, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Julian Casablancas (and Hammond, Jr. on the phone). The man has written for the Rolling Stone and the New York Times. It’s so amazing, it’s silly.

I finished reading his latest book, Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead. It basically contains interviews from popular (and not so popular) figures in the music and film industry – celebrities, essentially. Using the leftover fragments from his tapes, Strauss has taken the short minutes exposing the celebrities in their fleeting moments of authenticity. I find this interesting because he basically made use of the filtered bits of the magazine/newspaper features. Strauss argues that the “story is lost” after having to tweak the interview to conform to the general tone of the institution for which the interview is being made. What makes the book content special is its effectiveness in brevity. The moments chosen convincingly present a snapshot of who the artist really is – walls down, vulnerability up. This goes without saying that Strauss decided to narrate even the [coughs] and [scratching] his subjects make. You needn’t be well-versed with culture to understand, but the experience is richer if you know at least a bit of the people in here. I’m pretty sure there’s somebody for everyone (there’s Snoop Dogg, U2’s Bono, Neil Young, The White Stripes). Thankfully, there are moments of everything – moments of laughter, realization, brooding and oh sh*t. It’s all here.

From this book, I learned that people – no matter how famous or infamous – are real. They feel, they think, they worry, lose their loved ones, die. Also, because we are really no different from them (save perhaps media coverage), it would do us good to learn from their triumphs, mistakes, and regrets. Neil nailed it (pun intended) with this one. That’s what I call a role model.

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