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'Dear Mr Pop Star' Book Review

We are doing something a little different at 3 Songs and Out today. We have decided to put together a literary review. That is right we have gone all 'culture vulture' and are a bit like The Guardian, hopefully without the dodgy grammar and having employed the spell check function.

The reason why I wanted to do a book review was because several years ago, I bought a very funny book called ‘Dear Mr Kershaw – A Pensioner Writes (With help from his neighbour Wilf Turnbull’. Being someone who has always appreciated the lyrical content of a song, someone who values good use of the English language and someone who is drawn to absurdity and those amongst us that are just a little bit bonkers, this was right up my strasse. I laughed so much that I was in serious danger of developing a hernia and an acute case of incontinence.

This is where, for the benefit of full disclosure, I admit that I was so looking forward to another tome of random silliness, that I took part in the crowdfunding for the follow up, ‘Dear Mr Popstar’, look my name even appears at the back of the book, which is now my claim to fame!.

However, as always I am always honest, brutally sometimes, when reviewing, and if I thought that the book was bad I would tell you, after I had tried to get my hard earned investment of a few quid back that is!

Derek and his son, Dave Philpott, are the nom de plume's of a real father and son combo. 'Dave' is obsessed with music, and is extremely knowledgeable about it and it’s his day job, So he reveres and views artists and songs from a skewed perspective. His father on the other hand knows nothing about music, is completely detached from it and doesn’t know or care if a tune is by a world famous artist or a band in a garage down the road. Hence, when Mick Jagger sees a red door and wants to paint it black, Dave marvels at an angst-ridden motif of despair and the hopelessness of the human condition from the pen that bought us ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. His dad though, oblivious to Mr. Jagger’s pedigree, will say: ‘’What a fool! If he doesn’t put a strong undercoat on there it’s going to turn up purple. Your Uncle Len did that once and..’’

The premise for the second book is the same. as the first, seeing as there was so much material to use. Dave would expose his Dad to lyrics from Rock and Pop's Kings and Queens, as well as one hit wonders. Spoiler alert 'Doctor' from 'Doctor and the Medics' reply is brilliant and it is a fair point that not all Mechanics are called Mike. Derek would pick out some of the absurdities in the lyrics or deliberately miss the context or metaphors and a letter would be penned to the artist to point out the error of their ways. Well much to their surprise the artists started replying. Sometimes with incredulity, sometimes with sheer bafflement, but the best ones are where they played along with the misinterpretation.

The letters are penned with an insight into Derek's life and he mentions the day to day insignificant activities of him and his wife 'Jean' as they go about their daily business. The letters are very well written and use the English Language to its fullest. This adds a mundaneness to some of the great lyrics of our time. Sometimes the letters are of a shocked or angry nature, when admonishing pillars of the music industry about their outrageous shenanigans. A good example being to Aerosmith about their 'debauched lift based antics'. The letters are intermingled with small postcards without replies which break up the reading pattern very well. These snippets of madness give the reader some respite from the rib tickling of the longer muses. Whether it is admonishing Ultravox on the repercussions to the tourist industry of Austria's capital to their indifference to their great city, or asking Ms Carlisle if she meant Devon?

It is probably best to read the book in small snippets, unless you have easy access to an oxygen tank, as the mirth plays havoc with your breathing pattern. There are still questions that go unanswered. What's love got to do with it? Has anyone established whether Annie is OK yet? and the biggest one for me is what led to Haircut 100's phobia of land locked bodies of water?

I suspect that there are artists that did not want to reply, and that want to remain enigmatic, but I salute those that did and made this possible. I feel that the participation of the artists, many of who as well as contributing to the book, also bought their own copies, made the whole endeavour possible. The combination of Derek and Dave's mad ponderings and the artists replies make this a unique read for those of you that, like me, appreciate a well written piece that intentionally misses the point.

I would highly recommend getting a copy of the book, which is out now, and seeing what the fuss is about. I am willing to wager that having read 'Dear Mr Pop Star', you will rush out and get the first book, 'Dear Mr Kershaw'.

Review - Tony Creek

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