Author: Nemo James
Author: Nemo James
If you ever wondered what a struggling musician's life is all about, then pick up a copy of Nemo James's Just A Few Seconds. James is not exactly a household name and frankly I never heard of him before reading his autobiography. I must confess that what caught my interest in this book was that one of my sons and his wife are professional musicians, and after hearing some of their experiences, I wanted to compare notes.
As a professional musician for over thirty years, James had tried everything to establish himself as a singer-songwriter and believed that no one had ever worked harder and with more conviction to achieve his dreams. However, as we learn from his experiences that are vividly described in Just A Few Seconds, a musician's life is filled with many set-backs and very few successes. It is as if you are on a roller-coaster- one day you are living the good life and the next day you receive a swift kick in the behind. Very often your career depends on that one phone call that can turn your day around, and most important, it is whom you know rather than how good you are as a musician. Moreover, if you think that hard work alone will be your automatic ticket to success, you would be living in "la la land," as James found out the hard way.
As we discover, much of James's life consisted of living from one paycheck to the next and at times accepting low paying gigs or branching out into other fields such as managing a squash club to put food on the table and pay off his debts. Then there were the hecklers, the terrible living conditions, going months without a gig, receiving promises only to discover that you have been duped, playing the same old monotonous gigs and music, and many other disagreeable experiences. In addition, James had to contend with people that tried to take advantage of him as agents, hotel owners, restauranteurs, other musicians, fraudsters, publishers, promoters and a host of other unsavory characters. And if that wasn't enough, during the 1980's and 90's he also had to compete with discos and electronics when it practically destroyed live music in dance halls. As James succinctly sums it up: “I put everything into something I truly believed in and all I got for my trouble was a pile of useless publishing contracts and a debt that would take me years to repay.”
It should be pointed out, however, that there were occasions when James did perform in some of the most glitzy venues in the world such as high-class hotels in Switzerland, where you find the rich and famous hanging out, however, as he painfully learned, nothing lasts forever. In other words, being a musician is not as glamorous as we sometimes perceive it to be where you experience the life of wine, women and song and live happily ever after.
In the end, James's story
is a moving character portrait and a sobering reminder of how
difficult it is to break into the music business. His writing is
intelligent, reflecting a deep desire to express his experiences. And
his ability to bring to life the daily living of a struggling
musician is utterly captivating. However, this is not to say that the
book is without its shortcomings. I could overlook some of the typos
and grammatical errors that were scattered throughout, however, where
I was disappointed was the inclusion of too many chapters pertaining
to other aspects of James' personal life. If he had been a well-known
celebrity, this would not have been a problem. No doubt, this is a
book that will not encourage illusions about stardom in the world of
music. Rather, it is candid that being a musician is very tough work
with all kinds of obstacles to overcome and with very little chance