For many of us who grew up in the 60s, Jenny Boyd and her sister Patti, who married George Harrison, were the epitome of Swinging London. Now Boyd is all grown up and a Ph.D. and she has written It’s Not Only Rock ‘n Roll, a book that looks at the nature of creativity, where it comes from and how it is nourished. The book contains quotes from many musicians from rock, blues, soul, jazz, and country music, mostly gathered between 1993 and 2001. Many of these musicians have passed on in the years since they were interviewed, and some are still with us but have faded from the public eye. Altogether, there are over 75 artists included in the book, and therein lies my problem.
While it is interesting and takes a different look at popular music by examining the nature of creativity and how it affects each musician, the use of so many artists sometimes makes the information quite repetitive. How many musicians do you need to say basically the same thing?
The most interesting quotes in the book, to me, were those from George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Bonnie Rait, Graham Nash, and David Crosby. The other musicians sometimes had interesting insights and could have been used more sparingly.
As a person who has studied historiography and sociology, I also was concerned by the lack of more recent material. It is reasonable to assume that every one of the still living musicians has had life changes in the last decade or more, so that the things they said in the ’90s and early 2000s may not still be relevant, especially concerning drugs and alcohol. Also, this is a very serious book. Do not expect to encounter much humor. It is all very scholarly and it is obvious that it was based on Boyd’s dissertation.
Nevertheless, the book is certainly intriguing and provides a great deal of insight into the creative process among musicians, many of whom have very similar “peak experiences” and inspirational moments. It may cause us all to think of our own creativity, realized or potential, and examine our own experiences. It is most recommended for those who already have an interest in psychology as well as popular music.