About Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

Posts by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein:

We Have a Book and Our Book Has a Blog 7

Mad World coverHi. Welcome to Mad World: The Blog Of The Book. Take your shoes off. You’ll find the Purell to your left. Comfortable? Good. Here’s the introductory explanation. Some 18 months ago, we saw a brief interview with Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp celebrating the 20-year anniversary of his classic blue-eyed British soul ballad “True.” The piece, discussing the inspiration, writing and recording of the song, as well as its reception and place in pop history, ran a scant two paragraphs but, at the end of it we exclaimed in unison, if not perfect harmony: “We would happily read a hundred of these stories!” By that we didn’t mean we wanted to read a hundred stories of songs by Gary Kemp (except for the one that went, “She used to be a diplomat and now she’s down the laundromat.” That deserves deeper scrutiny). No, we wanted to hear the true stories behind our favorite new wave songs — our favorite songs from the years between 1978 and 1985, a.k.a. The Last Golden Age Of Pop.

So that’s what we did. (We’re saying that glibly, like the idea flowed smoothly from conception to completion; you can’t imagine the endless emails back and forward to Bananarama. They’re still holding out!) We approached our favorite artists from our favorite era and asked them to take us on the journey that led to their breakout song. Their “Tainted Love,” their “True,” their “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” their “Blue Monday,” their “Girls On Film” and their “Mad World.” And yes, okay, even their “I Ran.” Their response: “Never use the word journey again!” Their second response was a British-accented YES. Not that we planned it this way, but “Mad World” turned out to be a very UK-centric piece of work. America is represented by, among others, Devo, Berlin and Animotion (don’t rush to condemn us over that one: it’s a harrowing story of record industry abuse and chicanery, we promise). We wish we could have included more European acts. After all, new wave, more than any other genre before or since, broadened the American mind and weakened it’s resistance to foreign tongues. But we’re still waiting to hear back from Nena, Peter Schilling and Falco. (That’s right, we buy into the whole Falco Lives! conspiracy theory.)

We heard stories of bands of brothers who weathered changing musical climates, emerging as enduring iconic figures. We heard stories of groups who shattered into angry, ego-bleeding pieces at the first caress of fame. We heard stories of artists who stumbled accidentally into success and stories of people amazed by the endurance of the music they created all those years ago.

We talked to Duran Duran, New Order, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Gary Numan, Devo, OMD, Simple Minds, Thompson Twins, ABC, Berlin, Bow Wow Wow, Adam & The Ants, Depeche Mode and many more about the culture of the times, the highs, the lows, the fights, the failures and, obviously, the hair. And then we threw it all in the blender, added our own individual opinions and, thus, a book was born. Perhaps not the most definitive book on the subject; certainly not the most serious. But definitely the only one with a Kajagoogoo interview that runs longer than most Kanye West monologues.

And this is our little hub, our little atrium where we’ll keep you updated on the progress of the book as it takes its first faltering steps into the cruel marketplace. We’ll share some extra content — bonus tracks, if you will — that didn’t make the final edit. We’ll make lists (because no one can live without lists). And we’ll keep you up to speed on the artists in this book, the artists who may not have made this book but who, hopefully we’ll give the attention they deserve in the future, and the newer artists who fly their own version of the new wave flag in these hardscrabble times. Now and then we’ll even talk some shit about the current state of pop culture.

Welcome aboard!

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Let us introduce you to our friends Nick Rhodes and Moby… 0

Nick Rhodes

Nick Rhodes

Yeah, okay, we’re going to be guilty of a little unabashed namedropping here. But look, we got Nick Rhodes to write the foreword to Mad World. Not Howard Jones’ white-faced mime, Jed; not the dwarf from “The Safety Dance” video; not Baltimora. (That’s right, we buy into the Baltimora Lives! conspiracy theory). Nick Rhodes! And he’s every bit as erudite and opinionated as you would expect and hope. In his intro, the Duran Duran mastermind paints a vivid picture of bleak Seventies Britain, illuminating how glam bled into punk which mated with Krautrock and disco to produce a hybrid that swallowed up the world.

MobyBut that’s not all! We also have an afterword penned by Moby. We finagled it out of him while flailing around in the pool of his Xanadu-like compound high in the hills of Los Angeles. (Sounds glamorous? It was a little more like Caddyshack. That’s why we haven’t been invited back since.) His knowledge of the era runs deep. Cowboys International deep. Theatre Of Hate deep. Not only does he harbor a true and abiding love for new wave, he’s also able to articulate what it meant to him during his brutal adolescence in the suburban hell of 1980s Connecticut.

We are proud and privileged to have both these fine artists christen and close “Mad World.” They add a little class. (But we soon take care of that.)

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Here it is: The final cover of Mad World 0

Here’s an exciting, exclusive preview of what the final front and back of our book would look like if there were no pages in-between. (The finished product will have pages in-between. So we’re told.)

Mad World Cover

If you think it looks good, that’s a testament to the work and talent of Evan Gaffney, who also designed Jacqueline Suzanne’s Valley of the Dolls, Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge. But enough about those authors — Evan says Mad World was one of his favorite projects ever, because it brought him thisclose to living out his dream of art-directing The Face.

With such a rich and varied stew of artists featured in Mad World, it was a complicated and painful task to select only three iconic acts to appear on the front cover and represent the book in its entirety. Ultimately, we went with Adam Ant, Morrissey and Duran Duran. But if you’re a rabid devoted new wave fan and you feel your own personal idol should have been given pride of place, feel free to send us your own idea of what our cover should look like.

 

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