GQ editor Dylan Jones tells Glass about his recent publication – the most opinionated book on music you will ever read
If there’s one thing sure to divide group of friends at a pub table, it’s musical taste. We may chose to believe that we are kind and open-minded people, but that tends to go out of the window when someone you have otherwise respected for months suddenly turns around and professes undying love for Atomic Kitten. Sometimes, you say, as you shake your head and sigh, there is just no hope.
The strength of feeling involved in such discussions has resulted in decades of music journalists attempting either a, the optimistic route of trying to convince readers that a musician is really very good (or at the very least is attractive enough for it not to matter), or b, the diplomatic route of describing the sound of a record without actually giving any hint of personal opinion. Dylan Jones, on the other hand, has decided to take the bull by the horns. Editor of GQ, former A-star music journalist and author of several previous biographies, he has the perfect credentials to write a book on music and musicians based entirely on anecdotal evidence and personal prejudice.
The result is a seriously wicked, entertaining collection of opinions that will have you sniggering into your Kindle. The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music tackles 350 of what Jones considers the most important artists in the world, spanning every genre and decade cliché to present a fantastically eclectic encyclopaedia of music you will love, music you will hate, and music you may never have thought about seriously until now. If you’ve ever wanted to know what your blues musician name might be, or wondered how it was possible that anyone actually liked Radiohead, this book is a must-read. Glass caught up with the master storyteller himself to find out more.
Did you write this book for a particular audience? I hope anyone and everyone is interested. You don't have to be an expert, just someone with a curious mind maybe.
You acknowledge that the book is shamelessly subjective, which is refreshing. Do you think there’s really any room for objective reviewing in music journalism? I often think critics are too reverential, especially about those acts that you're not allowed to dislike. I mean, seriously, Radiohead? What IS all the fuss about?
Are you expecting any specific reactions from people who read it? Who is going to be the most angry/surprised after reading? Any reaction would be nice, good or adverse.
Did you deliberately choose to arrange your chapters alphabetically rather than chronologically? Your chapters jump straight from Arctic Monkeys to Louis Armstrong – something of an unexpected juxtaposition ... Chronologically would have been the orthodox way to do it – I like the unexpected juxtapositions! You talk about the art of the A-list interview. What's the best opening question you've ever asked a celebrity? OK, so what's the one thing you don't want me to ask you? On your description of record shops as the “supermarket of the soul” – Will vinyl ever die? Vinyl will never die, as it engenders such a close personal relationship.