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The JOY of coffee table books: Isle of Noises (Picador)

It’s rare that we self-indulge in a coffee table book.  In fact as many of us are rapidly downsize our reading material into (and onto) feather-light e-readers, the idea of purchasing or reading a book weighing a TON seems ludicrous.

However, there is something about the oversized, heavily constructed, hard-covered tome that invites you to make that cup of coffee (or tea) and indulge in the comfort of your armchair.

Let’s focus on the coffee table

Having been sent one such book this week, I thought I might persuade you to focus less on portability and more on your coffee table, at least for the duration of this post.  Besides, this particular tome would make an EXCELLENT gift…

the tome in question

But first I need to ask you a question: have you ever listened to a song and wondered how the songwriter came up with the lyrics?  I mean, d’you reckon they were drunk, half-asleep or ‘otherwise engaged’ when that killer line just flew into their head?

It’s all really a bit of wordplay but seeing as it has us singing in the shower, I suppose we ought to give these artists a little more credibility.  The author and interviewer, Daniel Rachel thought so.

Noel Gallagher explains his Look Back In Anger

Later this week his book, Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters, will be published.  Lucky enough to be sent a preview copy, I’m now in-the-know about many a secret harboured by the UK’s most-renowned musicians, many of which are exclusive and pretty intimate.

The contributors include: Ray Davies, Robin Gibb, Jimmy Page, Bryan Ferry, Joan Armatrading, Chas Jankel, John Lydon, Mick Jones, Paul Weller, Sting, Andy Partridge, Difford and Tilbrook, Madness, Johnny Marr, Billy Bragg, Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant, Lee Mavers, Damon Albarn, Noel Gallagher, Lily Allen, and Laura Marling. And from what I have heard, this is considered the definitive word on classic British songwriting, as told by the songwriters themselves.

Documenting fifty years of British songwriting through unique personal insights and an impressive wealth of knowledge, this is a beautiful book – well worth building up your biceps for.

‘Isle of Noises: Conversations With Great British Songwriters’ by Daniel Rachel, published by Picador on September 12, £25. (£16 on Amazon)

Emma Parlons
lifeofyablon.com