David Ford Goes to Hell and Back

David Ford has always done a great job at balancing a knack for beautiful melodies and earnest lyrics with a sharp and often angry wit. It has always informed his music, which can range from odes to beautiful relationships (“Song for the Road”) to venomous attacks on warmongering governments (“State of the Union”). Thus it’s no big surprise that he had no problem translating his lyrical poetry to the prose format of a book (particularly if you follow his insightful Twitter feed). In I Choose This: How to Nearly Make It In The Music Industry, he goes beyond the constraints of 140 characters and Verse-Chorus-Verse to expound on his journeys and observations through the record industry landscape.

Ford tells his tale chronologically, starting with his beginnings but without dwelling on the type of overwrought life history that you’ll find in lots of self-important autobiographies. His interest is in getting to the meat of the story immediately and it truly starts with his endeavors starting a career in music. The chapters are formatted like essays, often tied together by a common theme, but also very digestible in and of themselves. Ford never holds back on any of his topics, with brutally honest stories about former bandmates, producers and record industry execs. The section of the book detailing Columbia Records (and Rick Rubin) dropping Ford is frustratingly profound and fantastically insightful. But the way Ford soldiers on in the face of an industry astray and directionless is inspiring, entertaining and always humorous.

I Choose This is a fantastic view of the record industry from an artist who has struggled getting his foot in the door and ultimately back out of it, and who represents a new breed of truly independent artists making a career out of it on the very fringes of the music industry. As the sole voice in the book (Ford is not assisted by a ghostwriter), and a very eloquent and incredibly candid voice at that, Ford’s tales are a brilliant, engaging read and will only make you feel that the wrong people succeed in this business.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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