Rod: The Autobiography, by Rod Stewart
I have to admit that Rod Stewart ends up having been a more interesting figure in music history and a more ambivalent one than I would have guessed going into this. Without ever having been hugely fond of his personal life (and less so after reading this), I have long found at least some of Stewart’s songs to be interesting and worthwhile and this book gave me a look at the singer as a person. Finding out he was a cockney of Scottish heritage (the latter part given his name and lyrical references to Scottish soccer) that was a fan of building model train sets and was an accomplished amateur soccer player was certainly a good thing. I must admit that I was less pleased to hear him talking about his continual womanizing, which in part appears to have been a way to prove himself to be a masculine enough man given his somewhat effeminate tastes in fashion and his close friendships with a great many poofs (and even his respect of Gary Glitter), as well as his longtime casual drug use, references to both of which fill the pages of this tell-all autobiography that ought to gratify anyone who wants to read plenty of gossip from the source itself.
In terms of its contents, this book is nearly 400 pages when one includes the lengthy album discography of Rod Stewart and his various bands at the end. The book as a whole (which strangely lacks a table of contents) and consists of a mostly but not entirely chronological account of Stewart’s life, beginning in media res as is typical, and filled with a lot of digressions to discuss the author’s hobbies that do not fit in a chronological approach. By and large this book provides a reflective look at Stewart’s life, as he grew without a passion for education and very quickly found a place in the mod scene of the 1960’s where he was a fan and a singer who was around a lot more famous people and somewhat hampered by his lack of songwriting ability. For the most part, though, the book reflects on the life of a busy touring musician with little moral excellence and a fondness for pranks, drinking, and drugs, as well as plenty of adultery and fornication. We see a struggle in dealing with a voice that seems to be giving out that has some technical and medical solutions, before the author appears to have found a great deal of late-career personal and professional happiness.
As far as autobiographies go, this one seems to sit in a place that many such works do. Written far enough into the life of the subject where the general pattern of the author’s life has been lived and there is a chance to look back on mistakes made in the past and the longing that life was worth it and that one’s deeds will live on, this book has a high degree of retrospection involved. The author expresses hope that his upcoming album, Time, would be well-received, appears to have been well-placed, at least as far as the United Kingdom is concerned. The more you like the music or have an interest in hearing an old man talk about how much blow he used with the Go-Go’s and Elton John or gossip about how one of the guitarists in his band was willing to lick cocaine off of someone else’s member, the more you will enjoy this book. I found a great deal in the book to be cringeworthy and unpleasant but also found the author to be someone who was, at least by the early 2010’s, quite willing to come to grips with his cowardly and morally indefensible behavior with regards to the women in his life. And that was enough for him to earn at least a grudging personal respect.