"More Towels" by Grant Jarrett: Book Review
In the Studio With Renee' and the Derelicts
“A Farcical Memoir of Lechery and Despair”.
“A Farcical Memoir of Lechery and Despair”.
In the late 1960's our "hero" was living in the Pocono Mountains, more exactly Stroudsburg, PA in the shadow of his famous Jazz pianist brother, Keith, his two older brothers, Scott and Eric (Scott still being a musician, like Keith), and his younger piano prodigy brother, Christopher. At the beginning of this 20-odd year story of lechery and debauchery, Grant was living with his mother and grandmother, and was aspiring to become a proficient (or at least somewhat decent) drummer.
I met Grant, I believe, sometime in 1969 hanging around on Main St, Stroudsburg where he proudly parked his green 1950 DeSoto behemouth in between my sick and rusted 1951 Chevy and his brother, Scott's souped up 1954 Mercury Monteray (which I eventually purchased from him, when he moved to greener pastures). Grant was a skinny white kid with an afro and at the time we first met, he was playing around various venues in Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg with his guitarist brother, Scott and a bass guitarist, I shant mention, since he wasn't mentioned in Grant's book either. However, what I will say about the bass guitarist was that he had an odd obsession about being a skinny white boy with a natural afro and he wore a terrible, badly fitting and ratty looking red wig to cover up the fact. Before I moved away from Stroudsburg, the bass player had fallen in love, got married, and lost the wig. Thank God for small favors.
Until I read Grant's book, I never thought much about his lechery (other than the fact that he stole my first love, and I was heartbroken for at least a week). Her name was Marion, and I wonder if he even remembers her.ll She was my first experience at actually kissing a member of the opposite sex, and I soon learned that I knew NOTHING about French kissing for our brief time together. But, this is article is not about me, or Marion, this article is about Grant's book, which I have just finished, enthusiastically, reading. Grant is a colorful author, and very articulate for a person who "illegally left high school" at an inordinately early age, with his "mother's blessing," but not before learning, evidently, to have a love affair with the ubiquitos and lowly comma.
My first recollection of hearing Grant, Scott, and PL (the bad-wigged bassist) play together was either at the Grapevine in Stroudsburg or a place called Chic's Pizza across the street from East Stroudsburg State College (now ESU). I thought they were pretty good, and a vaguely remember Grant doing a drum solo, after which he was so sweaty (perhaps a combination of over-exertion and polyester), that he must have spent ten minutes sopping up the excessive sweat with a towel. Of course, the name of the book "more towels" has more to do with his notoriety for lecherous behaviour with nubile young lasses in various hotel rooms around the Poconos and well-beyond, and asking various chambermaids to not "make up the room, but bring more towels."
In Grant's own words "Driven in part by my older brother’s enormous talent and escalating success and in part by my own seed of natural ability, I made a career out of music, occasionally finding projects that at least briefly inspired me. In time my playing improved, as did the quality of the musicians I played with, but too much of the time my heart was elsewhere or, more often, nowhere at all. I just couldn’t seem to stoke my stinted and inconstant passion to a full flame. I was a wreck. And I remained one for a very long time, sustaining myself with books, laughter, women and sex." Source: http://www.grantjarrett.com
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"In Between the Notes"
"In Between the Notes"
This book is a good read; however, it is for mature audiences, as there Grant has a proclivity for using four-letter euphemisms that are not meant for young eyes or ears. This is Grant's recounting of his search to become proficient on his instrument, his use, overuse, and abuse of another instrument, and his search for a woman who he can love and can love him back, that seems ever elusive. The story is funny, happy, sad, heart-wrenching, and desparate. As I read it, I was envious and at the same time felt sorry for this, seemingly troubled musician, living in the shadows of his famous jazz pianist brother, Keith, who Grant seems to harbor some bitterness towards, as in the Epilogue of the book he points out that Keith was never supportive and never came to watch Grant play. The only time Keith ever said anything supportive was when Grant told him he was going to give up the pursuit of playing the drums and Keith told him that he was "Disappointed, because you (Grant) have something to offer as a musian." C'est la vie.
One of the most humourous parts of the book, which made me laugh out loud in the public restaraunt where I was reading it, was Grant's need to visit a VD clinic where he had an encounter with a hard-of-hearing hospital receptionist that announced to the entire state that Grant was looking for the VD clinic. Later on in the book, Grant has to make a second visit to a VD clinic, which is sad, but his fear that he might have to be examined by a female doctor (after all isn't females that got him here in the first place), whom he might have to allow to see his private parts and who later tells him that he has a clean bill of health, but he needs to stop over-using and abusing the apendage which caused him to be at the clinic.
Along the way we meet some other colorful and not-so colorful characters that Grant has had the fortune and misfortune to befriend, have has bandmates, or be the husbands of women that he has had naked, sweaty encounters with. One of the most frequently mentioned in the book is a man referred to as "Tee" who, throughout most of their musical time together, is struggling with aloholism and if it weren't for his friends who won't let him crash, burn, and hit the bottom, might have succeeded earlier in actually getting sober a lot sooner. Happily, near the end of the book "Tee" is finally sucessful.
Then, there is the father that Grant never really knew, as his parents divorced when he was a young age. He crosses paths again with his father in New York one of his brother, Keith's concerts when his father comes up to Grant by surprise and asks him "Do you know who I am?" Grant, having not recognized him after so many years, is surprised to learn that it is his father, and although try as they might to rekindle their relationship, this seems to never quite work right either.
Then there is Mandy, a woman who Grant spent a significant part of his 20-year memoir living with, trying to love, her trying to return the love, and it never quite being right. The problems always being exasperated by the fact that Grant and Mandy are living in New York and Grant is working at various resorts and clubs in the Poconos, where he frequently stays overnight, and ultimately gives in to his more basal instincts to engage in meanless coitus with a multitude of desireable and available women, after which he comes home to Mandy and finally, after many of these encounters, confesses his unfaithfulness to Mandy. I won't tell you what ultimately happens, but I will tell you that part of their life in New York City was spent in the Lower East Side, near the Hell's Angel's Headquarters and Grant says that "This was probably the safest neighborhood in New York."
In order to try to save his relationship with Mandy and find something that might actually offer him a more stable income that being a irradically employed professional musician, at one point Grant takes a job in an upscale, downscale, sidescale (well, something scale) clothing store in Manhatten where he finds some relative success as a clothing "salesguyperson" and even manages to get promoted to a department manager. Personally, as I remember Grant, I never pictured him as the kind of guy who could be tied down to any kind of structured employment. Ultimately, he has made his own structure and his own path, where he seems to be happy and satisfied with his station in life, and his abilities to be a good and effective author. I highly recommend that you read this book for yourself.
Today Grant lives in New York with his wife Joanna and their son Ethan and is a professional writer and avid biker.
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