Anger Is An Energy by John Lydon (3 out of 5)


Well, John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten, lead singer of The Sex Pistols and PiL) isn’t the type who shies away from anything. This is not, contrary to belief, his first autobiography. He had one come out in the late 90’s called Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs. That book? Wildly entertaining. This one? Well, let’s just say, like the rest of us, Mr. Lydon is getting older. Softening. Ever so slightly. The first book was more about the Sex Pistols; this one focuses more on PiL and the family. Lydon’s seen some fair share of family tragedy; namely, his raising his grandchildren after their mother cannot raise them and then dies at a young age. In those anecdotes, you see a whole different John Lydon. You see it in the love that frequents the pages; for his wife, the lovely and lifesaving Nora. He does, as always, not back down from those who have pissed him off, and yet, as funny as those stories may be, something about it comes off as somewhat bitter and “getting old”. Much like Mr. Lydon (and all of us) is getting older. Those things that used to piss us off so much when we were young? They tend to fade as the nights grow longer, days grow shorter, and our waistlines expand, along with the crow’s feet. It’s life. This is life now, courtesy of Mr. John Lydon. And while it’s got its moments (largely in the first 170 pages, to the point that I told my friend Dave it was better than the first. I have to withdraw that statement, Dave. Apologies), it’s not as entertaining as it was years ago. It’s still an entertaining read, it’s just more of a curmudgeon getting his last rocks off about the newer things and people lighting his drapes on fire. It doesn’t have the same rapid fire response as the first book did. Sadly.

There are parts of the book where you are chuckling because, well, shit, it’s Johnny Rotten! But it’s not. It’s John Lydon, who despite his moments here and there of volatility, unpredictability, and swear words that make me look like Martha Washington, projects an air of measured manners and (gasp!) courteousness. Balderdash, you may exclaim! Truth, I would exclaim. Unfair as it is to judge a book by the age of the author, you find yourself silently doing so, especially if you read his first book. I still laugh my ass off anytime I pick that up to re-read it. This book? I think it may just go to show that despite protestations of never being put in a linear box of expectations, that age does mellow us, and that determination sometimes leaves us if our lives are overall not too bad. Lydon shows a hearty appreciation for all that he has and how far he’s come and been, and you have to admire that. And I do! I just can’t sit here and say that it riveted me, although his unwavering adoration for his wife and grandchildren is touching and sweet. It’s just the sort of Brady Bunch book you would recommend for your teenager, to keep them from wearing that damned padlock necklace and playing bass in a Johnny Thunders tribute band. The first book? The exact opposite. Which is why I would say read the first, and give this one a cursory glance, but move on! There are better rock autobiographies to read out there. Unfortunately, this one is just passable.

~ by generationgbooks on May 20, 2015.

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