Strange Beautiful Music

I don’t write a lot of book reviews here, but I just wrapped up Joe Satriani’s “Strange Beautiful Music” and I feel like it’s worth a post.

I was first exposed to Satch during the last Golden Age of Guitar Heroes. I had probably first read about him in Guitar Player and when I finally got my hands on a copy of Not of This Earth I was totally blown away. It was so weird, but strangely engaging.

His two follow-ups Surfing With The Alien and Flying In a Blue Dream are still two of my favorite guitar records of all time. I finally got see Joe live in Portland Oregon on the Flying tour, and it was a pretty magical experience. I was still in high-school, without a driver’s license (I went with my dad) and I remember being completely in awe the entire time. Not just awe in the face of incredible talent and musicianship, but being awed by the music itself as it was being performed. It was a performance I will never forget.

Now here we are, twenty-some years later, and reading this book instantly took me back to how I felt about those records and what they meant to me in the infancy of my guitar-playing career.

The scope of the book is pretty large as he tries to boil his career to-date down into a manageable read. He veers in all sorts of directions ranging from highly technical gear-talk, to music theory and composition, to much more ethereal statements about artistry.

For me personally, the first third of the book was my favorite. It was a treat to learn the ins and outs of Joe’s career as he rose from local guitar-hero to international promninence. That’s not to say the book drops off afterward. His struggles with career and evolving artistically in the face of severe disruption in the music industry are a great insider’s look to the state of “the biz”.

If you’re looking for guitar lessons in this book, you won’t find them here. What you will find is a very honest story of a man who has had is share of ups and downs and how he’s managed to carve a place out for himself in this world when most people didn’t think it was possible.

Inspiring? Yes. Informative? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Even you aren’t a huge Satch fan, the book is worth a read for any guitarist.