Suburban Songbook is almost sold out of its first print-run – almost but not quite; you can can still buy copies here – and it’s been a rewarding experience, to get such a great reaction to my eleventh book and the first fruit of the new Goldentone imprint…
Even despite the fact that the book got very little media coverage, it still seems to have found its people. Of course, I don’t expect much from the bland-out mainstream media at the best of times (I mean, I never see any of the contemporary local acts/music I like getting reviewed in the papers), but it’s disappointing that with the exception of Rhythms and Rolling Stone, the independent music media doesn’t seem interested in independent music media. But I shouldn’t be emphasizing the negative, I should be celebrating and grateful for the enthusiasm the book has stirred up. Most of that is due that very old yet concept that’s still alive and still the most trustworthy form of recommendation: word of mouth.
I’m chuffed by the sort of comments people are making, like: Loving Suburban Songbook, picking up the backstories to the songs I loved as a kid… So great, as you would expect… A fabulous and engrossing read… Forensic detail and so many memories – got me back to playing Blackfeather’s “Seasons of Change”!... Magnificently researched! Now listening to Autumn, Sven Libaek, John Sangster – thanks for opening my eyes and ears to more interesting music… On fire!... Packed with delightful trivia and deep insights, with gorgeous illustrations and photos – fantastic!
But how could I not like the entry my good mate and true believer Donat Tahiraj put in his 2021 Top 10, which gives props to not only SS but also Stranded, which came out just a bit earlier in the year: "How other non-fiction authors are allowed to update and/or correct content in their books after an initial print run and not Clinton Walker is one of Australian literature’s great mysteries. Not only did his 2018 work Deadly Woman Blues get stripped from bookshelves nationwide and copies pulped, it seems that his previous book on indigenous music history, Buried Country too has disappeared from assorted state and national libraries without a word.
"Despite it all, Walker has released two new books: an expanded and revised (as the front cover explains) version of 1996 work Stranded and an entirely new, self-published work – Suburban Songbook via his Goldentone imprint.
"Stranded essentially covers the bands he saw and loved and doesn’t pretend to promise anything more. Out of these experiences sprang Walker’s easy and not-so-easy decades'-long friendships with the musicians involved - from the Saints at point zero to when grunge really dug its heels into inner-city ‘indy’ (his spelling) music in the early 90s. He’s there at ground level and interviewing them, always knowing what to ask though not always remembering what not to print.
"Suburban Songbook, on the other hand, takes the reader to a time before the kid from Kenmore picked up a typewriter and was still just a spectator. It functions as a work on the familiar and the unfamiliar where Pip Proud’s songs are just as important as those of Ross Wilson – only in a different way. Walker shows that it took a little time for Australian musicians to write their own songs and to break away from sounding like cheap copies of what was successful and happening elsewhere. Without giving away the end, we got there in time, and TV shows like Countdown were ready for it."