Sunday, October 28, 2007


Summer 2007: Death in Boca, Sounds of Spoon

A Death in Boca, Adventures with Spoon and Other Tales from Summer 2007

by Wayne Robins

It was not the most felicitious of summers in the world of Wayne's Words. But let's start with the good stuff. My book, "A Brief History of Rock, Off the Record," finally came out, published by Routledge. So far, the only review I've seen has been from the influential book industry resource Kirkus Reviews, and it was a rave. You can read the review (and buy the book) at Despite a few glitches caused by our decision to change the title and the cover fairly late in the production process, the modest first print run sold out, and as of the week of Oct. 15, which I am calling the "relaunch," books should be back in the pipeline. Visiting the company's facilities in Boca Raton, Fla., a week or so ago, I had a nice lunch with sales poobah Dennis Weiss and marketing whiz Evelyn Elias. They provided a welcome contrast to the daunting and depressing family issues that have placed this New Yorker for so many weeks in South Florida this year.

My brother David Robins died August 25 at his home in Boca after a long valiant fight against brain cancer. He was 54, my baby brother and only sibling. As recently as May he was chipper and functioning well enough to pick me up when I landed at West Palm Beach airport. By the time of my mid-July visit, however, he had lost his mobility and balance. Around August 12, his wife Marni called and said to come down for what was to be a final visit. I immediately ordered my brother a few collections of Three Stooges DVD boxed sets, which arrived when I did a few days later.

I found myself staying in a nearby hotel for the next 9 days, the toughest part of which was, no music. So I went to a Best Buy and bought a $30 boom box and a copy of Spoon's then-new "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" (with a second Best Buy-online bonus disc.) Spoon was my psyche-up music for the week and a half before my brother died. "Don't Make Me A Target" kept the adrenaline flowing...of course, since then, it's been difficult to listen to, as does so much music that has powerful associations with my brother. I was also spending time with Spoon's outstanding 2005 album, "Gimme Fiction," with a title song that to me sounds like a refracted mirror image of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth." My favorite song from "Gimme Fiction"—in fact, my favorite Spoon song—is "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," an exciting, enigmatic track that I really wanted to play for my brother as he lay in the hospice bed in his bedroom at home in the days before he died. He was already pretty much comatose, and I wondered if it would elicit any kind of response—eye blinks, lip movement, whatever. I never got around to doing it, which actually is a very small regret indeed. And if I had, I would probably have never been able to listen to the song again. As it is, it has been months, and will be many more months, until I even try.

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