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IGGY POP: OPEN UP AND BLEED by Paul Trynka. (Site) Biography, 2007. 371 pages. Broadway Books. Awhile back, a couple work pals and I were boozily trying to figure out what songs we’d like to have magically accompany us whenever we walk into a room. Liz chose “Black Betty” and Ed picked “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” and I think these are both fine selections. And after careful deliberation, it became glaringly apparent to me that I had no choice but to go with the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy.” How fuckin’ amazing would it be to have the power of that James Williamson riff and the nastily suggestive, leering Iggy vocal announce your presence wherever you went? Okay, it would probably get annoying after awhile, but I’m sure it would be fun to start.
  So it’s probably no surprise when I say I was pretty excited to read Open Up And Bleed, which tells the captivating life story of the man known to some as Jim Osterberg and to most as Iggy Pop. It pulls you in from the start, chronicling young Jim’s precocious charm and the development of the alter-ego that would eventually become Iggy. The hilarious Most Likely To Succeed photo of the 8th grade Jim Osterberg is one of many awesome shots in this book, and it gives an early indication of our hero’s drive to become cock of the walk (and speaking of cocks, he would, of course, eventually be known for the hugeness of his own). There are some wild bits about Iggy’s Stooges days in Detroit and general tales of rollicking, fucked up excess throughout his solo career. There are also some very insightful parts that detail how he betrayed a number of his friends and bandmates over the years, all under the guise of seemingly just wanting to succeed. The David Bowie dynamic is quite interesting and provides a lot more depth than the standard Iggy/Bowie mythology suggests. And a sad reoccurring theme that runs through the book consistently is that for much of Jim’s life, just as real success is about to come to him, Iggy somehow finds a way to sabotage it all. The book ends with a contemplative Jim/Iggy reuniting with his old Stooges mates (well, Ron and Scott Asheton, who are joined by Mike Watt on bass for this incarnation) with old frictions still there, but a general sense of peace as well.
  Throughout this bio, Trynka masterfully shows how the man who was born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. ultimately became two very different people: Jim and Iggy. Jim is the intelligent, boyish, charming guy that most people- both men and women- are unable to resist, at least on some level. Iggy is the charismatic madman who’s never afraid to push things well beyond their normal limits, onstage or off. And it’s Iggy’s self-destructive abandon that led to this fantastic musical legacy that’s ultimately responsible for so much of the best music to follow it. The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash and Damned, and the multitude of great bands they spawned (including the Pixies and Nirvana, who also acknowledge their debt to Iggy & Co.) all were inspired by the Stooges. While these bands give him his due, it may not be common knowledge how much Iggy had to do with laying the groundwork for it all.
  And I think it’s the primal nature of these Stooges songs that is really what it’s all about. On mornings when I’m a bit fried from the night before, perhaps even still drunk but careening towards serious pain, I’ll blast “Down on the Street,” “I Got a Right” or “No Fun,” and the raw, ripping fantasticness of these songs actually makes me feel physically better, at least for a little while. This music just feels right, like it’s something instinctive and good. I laughed when I first heard Joey Ramone refer to the Stooges as soothing, but the more I think about it, the more I understand what he meant.
  While it’s obvious Paul Trynka reveres this legendary figure, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to discussing Iggy’s dark side and some of the callous shit he’s pulled on supposed friends over the years. Yet he writes this stuff so matter-of-factly that it doesn’t come across as mean-spirited either. It’s like: This is what happened, and there’s really no judgment involved. Trynka also perfectly satisfies the uber-fan’s need for detail without getting too much into the weeds, and that’s especially important with a bio like this. (I read a good one on Sam Cooke last summer, but at times I just had to skip a lot of the minutia in order to be able to continue). Open Up And Bleed is fun and fascinating, at times hilarious and always a sincerely written account of the life and times of this glorious rock and roller.
  Mr. Trynka, who among other things is a former editor of the excellent MOJO Magazine, was kind enough to answer a few questions via email. When I asked him if Iggy had given him any feedback since his initial brief comments on the book, he replied, “No more direct feedback from The Ig so far. I sent his manager a couple of books around 8 weeks ago and he's since gone strangely silent. I imagine he's (a) glad that somebody's done a serious biog on him and (b) sick of answering specific allegations about dogs/drugs/girls etc etc etc!”
  For those of you youngsters who may not be so familiar with Iggy and/or the Stooges (or you oldsters, for that matter- my dad is about Iggy’s exact age and he’d [shockingly] never heard of him), I’ve got a little primer for you below.
  Here are Paul Trynka’s five favorite Iggy and/or Stooges songs:
  I Got a Right
  Fun House
  Johanna
  Success
  Ordinary Bummer
  (And he notes that on another day he’d probably pick completely different songs, with the exception of “I Got a Right,” which was the first record of Iggy’s that he actually bought when it came out).
  And now my own, noticeably (possibly painfully) more obvious faves:
  Search and Destroy
  1969
  Down on the Street
  The Passenger
  Five Foot One
  I’ll leave you with Trynka’s take on Iggy’s favorite songs from his own catalog: “I think Iggy's opinion of his own work pretty much matches the critical consensus; all three Stooges albums come first, followed by Lust for Life - I think for him The Idiot comes a way behind as it's generally regarded as a Bowie-dominated work.”
  Indeed. – Ben Hunter

 

 

 

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