Almost nothing upsets the metronomic pace Dean Wareham maintains as he narrates his years as the frontman of Galaxie 500 and Luna in Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance. Running chronologically from 1977, when Wareham met future Galaxie 500 bandmates Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang at Manhattan’s Dalton School, to Luna’s final show at the Bowery Ballroom in 2004, the memoir offers a cornucopia of detail and moments of dry humor about the not-as-glamorous-as-it-looks life of any cult band unlikely to break into the mainstream. Only rarely—as when he describes the recording of Luna’s Pup Tent, or the dissolution of his first marriage after Britta Phillips joined that band—does the narrative zoom in to show details (the lack of which Wareham chalks up to typical New Zealand reticence). While he offers observations on the hotels he stayed in and clubs he played, too little space is given to discussing broader issues and trends in the music business.
Devoted fans will be grateful for the intimate look at the groups’ interpersonal dynamics and anecdotes about the music (like the fact that Galaxie 500’s song “Spook” was secretly known by the band as “Spock” because it’s about a Star Trek episode). Other readers familiar with the indie scene in the 1980s and 1990s will enjoy the minor flutters of nostalgia occasioned by the litany of horrible band names (Death by Milkfloat? Jennyanykind?) and mention of long-gone dives like Boston’s the Rat and Avenue A’s Brownies. The author thanks his father for “insisting that I take notes on my travels in music,” and one can intuit these origins when such disparate subjects as the destruction of Dresden, meeting Flavor Flav on an airplane, and the birth of his son Jack receive the same two-paragraph gloss. In an age of overnight success for MySpace sensations, though, Wareham’s compendium goes some way toward mapping a disappearing world.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 11, 2008