“Should be considered as more than a rock memoir” – Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands by Will Carruthers

ptbwthwcIf you’re the kind of reader that is immediately put off by the idea of a ‘celebrity’ memoir, then let me start by assuring you that Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands couldn’t be further away from the standard fare of the genre. If Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, the bands Carruthers played bass in, never really appealed to you, then let me promise that there will still be much here for you to enjoy. In fact, I’d confidently say that if you’re a fan of guitar based music, particularly from the 80s and 90s, then this book will give you a fair amount of pleasure. It will also make you laugh. And shake your head. And make shocked faces and all that kind of stuff. Although it should also come with a warning; this book is not for the easily offended.

What makes Carruthers’s ‘rock memoir’ stand out from so many that have come before it is the fact that it’s not an over the top celebration of excesses and money and women. In fact, it’s an exploration of the darker side of the industry. Because Carruthers, a key part of two much adored bands, barely made it above the poverty line during his touring days. Carruthers, more than being an example of the lavish lifestyle a musical career can create, is evidence of all the pitfalls that can stop that dream from coming true. Perhaps most importantly, though, he is also an example of carrying on regardless because you just love music so much. The most emotional moments in the book are those when the author discusses how their songs made him feel, how being part of a band helped him through his struggles.

Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands should also be considered as more than a rock memoir because of the other things it discusses. It’s an honest assessment of addiction. It’s an intelligent and believable criticism of government policies and failing drug laws. And it’s a true life account of life on the poverty line. Most amazingly of all, it does all this at the same time as being hilariously funny.

Any Cop?: Carruthers has one more important difference when compared to other celebrity memoirists. He can really write. No need for a ghost-writer here. In fact, Carruthers’s comfortable prose style is so inviting that it often feels like you’re sitting with a friend and they’re telling you a story over a pint. Which would probably turn into several pints and a stinking hangover. But you’d have a lot of fun.


Fran Slater

About this entry