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See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody [Hardcover]

Bob Mould
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 15 2011
The long-awaited, full-force autobiography of American punk music hero, Bob Mould

Bob Mould stormed into America's punk rock scene in 1979, when clubs across the country were filling with kids dressed in black leather and torn denim, packing in to see bands like the Ramones, Black Flag, and the Dead Kennedys. Hardcore punk was a riot of jackhammer rhythms, blistering tempos, and bottomless aggression. And at its center, a new band out of Minnesota called Hüsker Dü was bashing out songs and touring the country on no money, driven by the inspiration of guitarist and vocalist Bob Mould. Their music roused a generation.

From the start, Mould wanted to make Hüsker Dü the greatest band in the world - faster and louder than the hardcore standard, but with melody and emotional depth. In SEE A LITTLE LIGHT, Mould finally tells the story of how the anger and passion of the early hardcore scene blended with his own formidable musicianship and irrepressible drive to produce some of the most important and influential music of the late 20th century.

For the first time, Mould tells his dramatic story, opening up to describe life inside that furnace and beyond. Revealing the struggles with his own homosexuality, the complexities of his intimate relationships, as well as his own drug and alcohol addiction, Mould takes us on a whirlwind ride through achieving sobriety, his acclaimed solo career, creating the hit band Sugar, a surprising detour into the world of pro wrestling, and most of all, finally finding his place in the world.

A classic story of individualism and persistence, Mould's autobiography is an open account of the rich history of one of the most revered figures of punk, whose driving force altered the shape of American music.

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From the Back Cover

A small space can be Spectacular. Want proof? Explore the beautiful rooms in this book. Whether you're decorating a living room, a kitchen, a dining room, a bedroom, an office, an entry, a kid's room, or any other room, the experts at Better Homes and Gardens® have collected all of the inspiration you need to turn a ho-hum space into a showstopper. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bob Mould is an American musician, singer / songwriter, producer, and DJ. An original member of the influential 1980s punk band Hüsker Dü, he released several albums after the band separated, including Workbook, Copper Blue, Body of Song, and Life and Times. He lives in San Francisco.

Michael Azerrad is the author of the books Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, and Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. His writings on music and musicians have appeared in numerous magazines, including Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, Spin, and the New York Times. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Mould is a Genius! Oct. 23 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
See a Little Light is an amazing book, but an amazing musician. Husker Du, Sugar, and Bob Mould solo are my favourite bands of all time. I feel blessed to be able to read this wonderful book about a fascinating artist. Bob Mould is Gold.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real story of a real musician May 22 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was some what biased before reading this book as a fan of Bob's music, I learned of him when the Sugar albums came out - and was interested to hear of the days in Husker Du. This biography did not disappoint and was a great insight into his musical genius, the ups and downs, and the personal failures and triumphs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  50 reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography about a frequently loud and interesting life June 5 2011
By Chip Millard - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After creating many excellent songs and albums while a member of Husker Du, Sugar, and as a solo artist, Bob Mould comes through with another winner in his 2011 autobiography, "See a Little Light: The Trail or Rage and Melody", co-written with Michael Azerrad (author of the widely praised "Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991"). Bob recounts his own history, both personal and professional, in a mostly chronological, easy-to-read manner. On the personal (non-music) side, Bob explains his struggles with growing up as a gay person in a dysfunctional family in a small, rural town, his three primary, long-term romantic relationships, his quitting cold turkey both drinking and cigarettes about a decade apart, his body image issues, his 7 month foray as a creative consultant with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1999-2000, and his coming of age and full self-acceptance as gay man that gradually increased in the late 1990s and fully bloomed in the mid-2000s. On the musical side, Bob discusses his early interest in music from 45 RPM singles he received as a young child, moving to the Twin Cities for college and (fairly quickly) forming Husker Du with like-minded musicians Grant Hart and Greg Norton, the musical evolution Husker Du went through from their formation in 1979 to their dissolution in January 1988 (with the band's break-up, at least from Bob Mould's point of view, chronicled in a story I had not read or heard about before), the varying personal circumstances between the creation of the two albums released in his first part of his solo career, the mostly positive highs, especially early on, of his time playing in Sugar with David Barbe and Malcolm Travis, and the various aspects of the second part of his solo career, ranging from his go-it-alone approach to his late 1990s albums (the eponymous Hubcap album and "The Last Dog and Pony Show") to his boredom with alternative rock and interest in electronica to ultimately finding a balance between loud guitar rock, singer-songwriter material, and electronic music in his mid-to-late 2000s albums, starting with 2005's "Body of Song". At least to this reader, Bob was able to find a good balance between talking about Bob Mould the musician and Bob Mould the human being, and perhaps the most striking thing about the book is how much Bob has grown as a person and gained self-acceptance, happiness, and comfort with who he is during his life, especially since about 2004. "See a Little Light" is an engrossing read, and I was able to read the entire book within a 24 hour period between the time it came in the mail until the time I finished it.

One final thought: in this reviewer's opinion, this book is a better and much easier to read book than Andrew Earles' Husker Du biography that was published in late 2010. Not only does this book cover a broader scope in the musical (not to mention personal) life of one Husker Du's members, rather than (mostly) covering just the 1979-1987 Husker Du period, and not only is it written from a first-person point of view rather than a third-person point of view, but it is also edited much better, avoiding the frequent repeating of stories and information that plagued Mr. Earles' book.

If you have any interest in Bob Mould as a musician, or even in Bob Mould as a "non-stereotypical" gay man (with this reviewer speaking as a heterosexual male), this book is well worth picking up.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yes, he's great, but he's also an as*hole Aug. 18 2012
By USA Student - Published on
Yes, I'm a Husker Du fan, and yes, Bob comes off like a jerk. Some people are not meant to write their autobiographies I guess because if there's brilliance and wisdom in Bob Mould, he didn't get it on paper. He has no perspective on himself, no insight, and his platitudes of warmth are contradicted by his actions. He proudly recounts how he runs into his ex-boyfriend in a coffee shop and actually turns his back on him--then says, half a page later, "I don't have any animosity toward Kevin. I wish him the best and hope that he is able to find his own inner peace." Sure, fine, whatever, you robot. Maybe your actions won't count if you follow them with greeting card sentiments.

Is it just me, or didn't we once think Bob Mould was smart? It's not in this book. His tone is flat and didactic and he piles on detail like he's transcribing from his day planner (and this is with a co-writer). To be fair, the early music stuff is fascinating--how he was writing songs, trying to get a certain sound, the feeling in the early days of underground music, how bands were creating a network, sleeping on people's floors--but when he gets to the more ordinary parts of his life, he treats them as though they're similarly exotic. Aren't his readers, you know, hipsters? Does anyone need gay culture explained to them anymore? A quote: "There's a very specific time-honored dynamic with some gay men, not necessarily the daddy/son dynamic but more of a bear/cub dynamic." Thanks for clearing that up for us, Bob.

I had this dream while reading this book: I was in my college radio station, looking at old Husker Du albums, and suddenly it occured to me: This is so middle-aged. This is the most middle-aged thing I've ever done. I am not cutting edge, I am not hip, I'm a MILF looking back, here to disappoint a whole new generation with my compromises. That's what this memoir did to me.

Still, I read the whole book. I was sort of fascinated by the portrait of an emotionally stilted person who can break loose and make great art...but he lost me, finally, when he was a jerk to Grant Hart at the end. That weird story about playing a few songs together, the puke on the wall of his dressing room, the pure 7th grade pettiness of Bob's inner dialogue, how he thinks Grant is going to say something psychotic into the mic on "my stage." This while Grant's being all friendly and offering to carry his stuff and Bob is cringing from him--it's just awful. Bob and Grant spent the best years of their lives together doing something exciting and singular, and now he treats him like a leper. I understand why Grant says he's still a prick...because he's still a prick.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trail worth taking June 23 2011
By SciFi Mama - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I came to Mould's work later in his professional life; in fact, until 18 months ago I hadn't heard anything he had ever done. A "you might also like" serial click session on a downloadable music service site (that started with a purchase from The Smiths,) eventually landed me at Bob Mould's Workbook. It had been over 20 years since I had fallen this hard for a music collection. Just like a teenager, I listened to four of his albums everyday for months and then ventured out late last year (on a work night no less!) to see him perform live. His show at Iron Horse in Northampton, MA was energetic, generous, and mature. In between some songs, his interaction with the audience got me interested in his life. I wondered how a man who started his musical career in Husker Du got to the point of telling a small New England crowd a charming little story about a neighborhood co-op grappling with how to politely and inclusively handle nudists at a farmer's market.

As one reviewer already points out, Mould does a good job balancing discussing the evolution of his musical career with sharing personal recollections. As I'm not a Husker Du acolyte (in fact, my 80s underground rock-loving husband had to inform me that Bob Mould was not my own personal discovery,)the discussion of those paricular songs and albums does not have intimate meaning for me. And while some fans may feel deflated when they read The Real Reason Why Husker Du Will Never Get Back Together, it fits perfectly into the narrative and is consistent with the kind of person Mould presents himself to be. No matter what phase of his musical career or personal life he shares about, emotions come through well. His admissions about being a jerk during many important moments in his life read like those of a man who boxed up a lot of unpleasant experiences and has now finally opened them up to find out which parts belong to him. Mould's honesty about his own failings and shortcomings feels authentic even though his muted language at times may cause some to question whether or not he takes full ownership of all his parts. The other major thread, his coming out odyssey and how it relates to the safer emotional spaces he now tries to live in, reads beautifully. Instead of falling into some trite, kumbaya-I-found-myself-hallelujah verse, he freely shares gritty, funny, embarrassing, joyful, heartbreaking, and scandalous moments from a 20+ year process. It does indeed get better.

Mould's memoir reads easily and well. Although I am now a fan and that was my hook into this book, others may well find something to take from it. The production side of the music industry as well as (surprise!) professional wrestling receive detailed treatment. Integrating sobriety into a career not tailored for such a lifestyle is touched upon several times in addition to surviving the irretrievable breakdown of a number of different kinds of relationships, both personal and professional. Woven throughout the book, too, is the theme of working hard at one's job: getting up everyday and reporting for duty, pounding the pavement and repeatedly knocking on doors, and showing up ready to deliver one's best. Being a rock star is a uniquely awesome job and he doesn't shy away from the coolness of it, but Mould makes it clear that it's still work. If the music didn't require such effort and he didn't get paid for it, he'd call it a hobby and none of it would matter to the likes of me. As it clearly is work to Mould, and he takes his work seriously, fans like me benefit. I highly recommend See a Little Light both for its ability to convey richer meaning to Mould's musical body of work and because the overarching theme of the struggle to mature into a whole person should resonate with all of us who take that trail.
56 of 70 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like Bob a lot less after reading the book July 15 2011
By TJ from Mpls - Published on
I will always love most of Bob's musical output from '83 to '98, but I found that the more of this book I read, the less I liked Mould as a person. Parts were interesting (how certain songs came about, interactions with other bands from the punk era), but too much of the book is spent on Bob's exploration of his orientation and lifestyle. I have no problem with Bob being gay, its just not why I (and most of his fans) have followed him all these years. (Its your art, stupid.) "Workbook" gets two and a half pages while certain amorous encounters get three -- really? But the most troubling aspect of the book is that Bob comes across as a controlling, arrogant and mean-spirited person. His treatment of former bandmates is dismissive, petty and/or mean. As one reviewer commented, his description of the final Husker Du meeting (and ensuing mocking of Grant's mom) was incredibly callous. If Bob is truly as happy as he says he is now, there is no need to be such a small person. Sometimes our heroes don't measure up.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standing In the Rain! July 23 2011
By Rick D. Evans - Published on
Oddly, I sort of agree with most of what y'all are writing in these reviews (be it a 5* or 2* review). I don't really know how to score the book, but I do know I didn't put it down until I was done. I do recommend it for any major Husker Du/Sugar/Bob Mould fan.

Chances are Husker Du/Sugar/Bob Mould has been a big part of your musical life off and on over the years. For me, it started as a 22 year old, when I discovered Zen Arcade in 1985 and then quickly was blown away by New Day Rising a few months later. Over the years I grew to love and understand those albums (and many of the other HD/Sugar/Mould albums) even more. I'll still discover some track on Flip Your Wig or Warehouse and be like, "damn, I didn't realize that "Lip In the Air" is so awesome! And that's what makes Husker Du/Bob's career so interesting; the musical depth, and the way the music continually unfolds and reveals itself to you.

I loved the recent book, "Husker Du: The Story of the Noise Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock", so I was thrilled to have a chance to read more about Bob's life.

Now,what I'm about to write isn't so much criticism, but to help shape a fan's expectations before they embark on what largely is a great read for a big Bob Mould fan.

Ok, lets start with how I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading about the gay culture and WWF, not because I'm homophobic but because that's when the music seemed to go downhill, thus would the whole story become less interesting? The story did get a little less interesting, but its still part of the story. Moreover, his last couple albums are his best albums in years, so the path to his recent deliverance is very interesting. Also, I now know more about gay culture than I ever did! I'd definately be a Bear if I was gay!

There are many unsatisfying moments. Why so easily break up Sugar? I wanted to understand better why Sugar just didn't go on hiatus? He seems to still like those guys, why not put a Sugar album every few years and do the solo and DJ stuff. But - this is really important - what we want as fans isn't the real story.

Then of course, there's the Husker Du stuff. As Husker Du fans the true story is unsatisfying. But its not like he can rewrite it. Still, you're left thinking why break up a band he'd worked so hard to build? Why not take more responsibility for his role in the break up? Then there's the short shrift he gives to Grant and Greg. I wanted to hear about the thrill of being in Husker Du, and how amazing he thought it was to have another songwriter in the band who was clearly his equal. I mean what are the chances? Although Bob spends time talking about some of the songs and albums, it doesn't feel like enough. Nor enough discussion about why the music resonated with the fans, and no discussion about how the creative and competitive dynamic between him and Grant fueled the greatness of Husker Du.

You never get a paragraph like "It became to clear to me around the time of "Metal Circus", that Grant Hart was my equal as a songwriter, and if I was going to keep up and stay a step ahead, I was going to have reach deep down and push myself as an artist. I like to believe I did the same for Grant. Grant had that special gift for melody that was truly special. Still, at the end of the day, it was the blend of his songs with mine, his voice and my voice, and the over all synergy we'd created that made Husker Du special! 1+1 sometimes does = 3!"

BUT, here's the thing. Its Bob's life and its his book. Its his life and his perception of his life that I wanted to read about, and am glad I did. It may not completely sync up with what I hoped to read, but it definitely enlightened me to his view of himself and his music. Including "my perception" that he still is in some sort of self denial with regard to the importance of Grant Hart in his life.

We may want him and Grant to get along and respect each other, but the reality is, they don't!
Oddly, when Bob writes about his reasons for this, I was surprisingly - considering its his book and we're only hearing his side -- left feeling like "is that all Bob?" Near the end of the book he writes how he's unnecessarily destroyed and broken too many friendships. He's become more wise, and frankly seems like a pretty decent chap! But he doesn't mention Grant in all this.

The story would have ended much better with his realization that Grant Hart will be forever connected to his musical legacy and life. To have come to terms with that, to let bygones be bygones, and a good old "bear hug" for Grant and Greg, would have been a much more satisfying ending. And not just for the fans, but I think for Bob too.

While reading the book I listened to all the albums and truly enjoyed my weekend with Bob. After reading the book, you'll definitely feel a little different about him, know him a LOT better than you ever did before, maybe not like him as much as you'd hoped you would, but possibly appreciate the music even more. And at the end of the day, that's what's most important.

If you're reading this Bob! Thanks for all the great songs!
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