Nick Hornby’s autobiographical 31 Songs is a depiction of his life in relation to music. Sharing his intimate and passionate relationship with music, Hornby also encourages his readers to develop something of the same themselves. He is convincing as he shows how music has understood, comforted, inspired and grown along with him.
The personal “soundtrack” that has accompanied Hornby throughout the years has enhanced and even created some of his experiences. Adolescence with Bruce Springsteen begins the story, including his first shag with Rod Stewart (well not actually with Rod Stewart, rather his song ‘Mama You Have Been on my Mind’). As he matures, his strict diet of rock and metal gradually gives way a little as the realization dawns that songs don’t necessarily have to be ear-splitting, distorted and smothered in electric guitar to be good.
Hornby’s open-minded attitude to music has allowed him to take it with him and hold it dear throughout all stages of his life. It has soothed him through relationship breakdowns, helped him overcome a fear of dancing, provided a communication outlet for his autistic son and eased him into middle age. Such friends as Nelly Furtado, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Aimee Mann, Gregory Isaacs, the Velvettes and Jackson Browne have seen him through.
31 Songs has been written with an open and mature mindset. Hornby is knowing, yet unpretentious. He has the ability to look at all kinds of music without bias and see the good, the bad and the beautiful contained within. 31 Songs is humorous, insightful and real, an especially good read for any would-be or self-proclaimed musician. It is everything it sets out to be.