The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw
This book is a love letter to music and childhood, and how the two are so intersected. Lavinia is a 60s English baby, and her story is one of the changing musical genres, how music helped form and transform her life as it went through the different stages.
While I appreciate the concept and the ode to the recklessness of youth and growing up, I didn’t love this. I don’t know if it was because I was not in the right mood to read it, or that I was rushing through it, or if those things were affected by the book itself. I found myself skimming entire sections of the book, and I didn’t particularly care for Lavinia either. Not because she wasn’t likable or realistic, because obviously, she is, just because I didn’t feel like I really connected with her.
Each chapter was short, introduced with a high brow quote that somehow related to it, and spoke about a particular moment or song or theme. But it didn’t seem to really flow all that well for me. Why the quotes from Dickens, Hardy, Shakespeare and not song lyrics? It seemed to me she was just trying to prove herself well-read despite her lack of care towards school and her poor grades, or to make deeper connections about the state of music and it’s importance. I didn’t think they were needed and it tore me away from her own narrative.
While I agree that music is important, Greenlaw almost insults the casual listener, particularly girls, who aren’t obsessed with music. It’s almost like she’s trying to make herself seem edgier and forward-thinking because of her love and passion for music. Numerous times she makes shocked statements like “Sophie and Julia each had a few records but they didn’t get upset or excited about bands,” because record stores were teeming with males and girls weren’t supposed to feel so strongly, especially about music.
Music helps shape the lives of many of us, and I totally get where Greenlaw is coming from, and the brief history of music in England in the 60s and 70s was interesting and a cultural lesson, but it didn’t intrigue me. Give me some Beatles and “Let it Be.”