Bob Mould Fucking Rules. And So Does His Memoir.

See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody

Bob Mould. The Ben Franklin of Punk.

Bob Mould, the damaged guitar god behind the 1980s postpunk trio Hüsker Dü—the guy who wrote “59 Times the Pain” for cryin’ out loud—has written a beautiful, painful, frank memoir chronicling his startlingly serpentine route to something resembling inner peace. In a season of rock memoirs, with hitmakers from Keith Richards to Steven Tyler to Rick Springfield to Sammy Hagar chronicling every groupie and every joint rolled, Mr. Mould’s thoughtful, tortured recollection stands apart, just as his music has for more than 25 years.

Mr. Mould is analytical in recounting his coming to terms with his homosexuality and his consumption of enormous amounts of alcohol and amphetamines. He is capable of sharp insight, writing about how his childhood in upstate New York was fractured by his father’s alcoholism and rage. When he stops drinking, he realizes, “Like my father, I was yelling—but onstage. . . . And like my father, I was being abusive, if only to myself.”

As he approaches 50, Mr. Mould is balanced at last, “restless always. . . . But the cathartic thing? Those days have come and gone.” He is frank about his ability to walk coolly away from things he holds dear—leaving behind Hüsker Dü to start a solo career and leaving behind once-cherished lovers in city after city. Mr. Mould learned of the fate of his first boyfriend via Google, as he wrote this book; he had died six years earlier.

Mr. Mould took an astonishing detour in 1999, when he accepted a job with World Championship Wrestling, writing plot arcs for matches between baby faces (good guys) and heels (bad guys) like Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger. This ardor for theatricality was surprising, as his musical sensibility was the opposite.

The story flows beautifully here, benefiting from the easy touch of co-writer Michael Azerrad. As the author of the indie classic Our Band Could Be Your Life, Azerrad comes by his punk honestly. But it might be the time spent on Nirvana for his forthcoming project on that band—celebrated by Mould when they top the charts as heroes for the whole genre—that gives this book such authority.

At times See a Little Light is hilarious, such as in a scene where the mother of Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart misunderstands the effects of his heroin addiction, attributing his symptoms to “a cold or something.” What if, she asks, “you just played on the weekends.” The book can also be sad, as one senses Mr. Mould is too mercurial for today’s equilibrium to last. Fans know to enjoy his extraordinary creative output while it’s there, so the appearance of this book makes this a “Celebrated Summer” indeed.

SEE A LITTLE LIGHT: THE TRAIL OF RAGE AND MELODY

By Bob Mould, with Michael Azerrad 
Little Brown, 403 pages, $24.99

 

 

Ken Kurson

Ken Kurson is the founder of the Globe suite of sites. He is also the founder of Green Magazine and greenmagazine.com and covered finance for Esquire magazine for almost 20 years. Ken is the author of several books, including the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Leadership.

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