I never wanted to like Amanda Palmer.
As the Dresden Dolls started to break through, their whole schtick reeked to me of pretension. Faux cabaret nonsense, theatre kids run wild. How the hell did they get signed to Roadrunner Records, a label known best for their metal offerings such as Fear Factory and Slipknot? Even when Trent Reznor brought them in as an opening act for my beloved Nine Inch Nails, i cringed. I just couldn’t hang. Elsewhere, things in Amanda Palmer land kept going. She did a ukulele album of Radiohead covers. I was with some friends in a sort of secluded area at Coachella one year when she came and awkwardly sat with us while she tuned up before her set. None of us knew her, I suspect she just didn’t want to be alone. I don’t recall any of us speaking to her. Somewhere in there she hooked up with many fanboys’ favorite author Neil Gaiman. Then they got married. Next the Kickstarter campaign that raised over a million dollars. Nobody in music had done that before. Then there was a TED talk. That was powerful and seemed to take over the internet.
After viewing the video, I thought to myself, maybe i was wrong? Maybe there was something I was missing. Maybe there was something magical hiding in there. At the end of 2014 she fleshed out that TED talk into a full book, “The Art Of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”. I decided to take a chance and read the book. Personally, 2014 had been a hard year of personal growth, struggles and change. A memoir full of artistic struggle was hard for me to read, it took much longer than it should have, i couldn’t go far until I had to set it down. But there was something deeply humanizing in the book, her frank confessions of doubt. Does everyone have these doubts or negative chatter or “The Fraud Police” as she calls it? Is it a phenomena exclusive to artistic types? It struck me as a kind of a self-help book for artists, or at least a how-I-did-it. In turns difficult and inspirational. As I worked through the book I took the time to cruise through the majority of her musical output. It still doesn’t speak to me, but I can see a little bit of what is appealing to people. I may still not get it, but I have no problem recommending this book, especially to those of us with artistic predilections.
Available on Amazon.com