blackpostcardsBlack Postcards is written in an admirably clear-eyed, straightforward style. Wareham talks about many difficult situations without bitterness–the jealousy and hurt feelings among the members of his first band, Galaxie 500; his affair and divorce; the complex relationship between musicians and their fans–and that’s what makes this book remarkable.

Not only is it an honest account of just how difficult it is to be a mid-list musician in a business (and world) that lionizes a select superstar few, but it’s also a fascinating coming-of-age story of a  handsome, New Zealand-born, Harvard-educated singer/songwriter of self-admitted limited talents who nonetheless carves out a most impressive career, following and life.

Throughout, he sprinkles observations and opinions about various other acts: everyone from the Spin Doctors (horrible, horrible) to Nirvana (their success helped ruin the music business); Courtney Love (spellbinding as a live performer) to Natalie Merchant (he hates her music but would willingly boink her).

I wish that he’d indulge his writerly side a little more–there are ample opportunities for him to take a beautiful scene and run with it, but he maintains a reserve and restraint that you have to admire, one that he was famed for in his poetic but obtuse “Dr. Seuss on heroin” song lyrics.

It’s pretty amazing that despite being showered with critical acclaim, Wareham’s bands (first Galaxie 500, then Luna, then Dean & Britta) have never really broken through the mainstream, yet he’s recorded 16 albums. Sixteen!! (Plus, I really love the names of his songs, which I think is the best part of songwriting.)

Reading this book made me curious to find out more about Wareham and his projects, and sorry that I missed out on them the first time around. It’s a true pleasure to read about such an interesting life, so intelligently (and humorously) told. I couldn’t stop reading this book and I’m thrilled I got the chance.