Sunday 4 December 2016

Review: It's Lovely To Be Here by James Yorkston

Domino Press, €12.20, Paperback

Published 12/02/2011 | 05:00

James Yorkston is a folk singer/songwriter from East Neuk, Fife, who has been releasing acclaimed albums for the last decade on the indie label Domino.

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Now Domino marks the launch of their publishing imprint, The Domino Press, with Yorkston's gentle memoir, It's Lovely To Be Here: The Touring Diaries Of A Scottish Gent (a new way for the music industry to tackle declining music sales).

The book chronicles life on the road, from Yorkston's small beginnings in Scotland to his tours of North America and Europe, and reveals that a rock and roll lifestyle is not all it's cracked up to be.

According to Yorkston, life as a touring musician is surreal, lonely and isolating. Yorkston is mostly obsessed with finding vegan-friendly food as he docks in each town, and when in Toronto, one of the most exciting things -- nay, the only thing -- he does one day is go to the hotel shop to buy deodorant.

It may not sound very interesting but there is a certain poignancy to be found in his efforts to get through his tours and back to his wife and child in Scotland.

The book certainly feels like an authentic diary, including lots of amusing, charming and absurd little details.

There's plenty to appeal to Irish readers too, as Yorkston regularly plays around this country. His comments on how Dublin has changed over the last 10 years, however, will strike a familiar pang in most readers' hearts.

"I have seen it change, slowly throughout those years. From the run down, with smoking dull blue ancient cars; great pubs, with interesting little record and music shops dotted about -- which let's face it, are my areas of interest -- to yet another shiny city with identikit shops and identikit silver, shiny cars. Less smoke, though aye.

"From here to Bruges, New York to Milan, it's all the same brands, same shops, same prices, give or take."

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