Memoirs by rock musicians are usually very hit or miss. Read a few recently and I've found that while the books can be well written, the authors rarely seem to be enjoying what they're doing or they're a whining jerk or so indifferent and passive you wonder why they even picked up an instrument in the first place, let alone become a musician.
A few years back, Jacob Slichter did a fine job depicting what it was like to get rock success then lose it quickly.
This year Joe Oestreich has captured the magic of never acquiring fame in Hitless Wonder.
Oestreich is the bassist and co-vocalist of the Columbus band Watershed. The band has been together for over 25 years, had a signing to a major record label in the 1990's but never quite caught the level of success far lesser bands with far lesser talent did achieve.
They're still together, still working hard and rocking, even when the rewards are diminishing and backs are losing their strength to carry sound equipment.
In the midst of a failing marriage and torn between music and teaching as a career, Oestreich and the band play on, to five people in a club, to several hundred in their hometown. It's a bittersweet and well told story. You feel the horrors of royalty distribution by the major label and the joy of hearing a song of yours played to over a hundred thousand at your college football stadium before a game.
Hitless Wonder is one of the better rock books out there and it's great to see Oestreich finally get some success out of his band, even if he has to revisit a lot of 'what ifs' in the process. It's a compelling story that has you cheering for the friendship of the band members, which in the end is all that matters. I loved this book.