Sign up for newsletter
 

Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock

By Steve Forbert with Therese Boyd

PRP, 266 pages, $16.95 paperback

Reviewed by Jeff Burger, September 2018

Find it on Amazon
Particularly if you've been listening to Steve Forbert's music for many years, you're bound to have some fun with his new memoir, "Big City Cat." The book, which lifts its title from that of a track on "Alive on Arrival," his 1978 debut LP, offers lots of commentary on the inspiration for Forbert's songs and the making of his albums. You'll also discover mentions of many of the artists he admires - some predictable (assorted folkies), some rather surprising (Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones).

Musical references aside, however, this memoir disappoints. You'd have to be quite a fan - or perhaps even a member of Forbert's entourage - to care about all the minutiae here regarding the ups and downs of his relationships with record companies, producers and managers.

And don't go looking for the kind of introspection that imbued Springsteen's recent autobiography: there's virtually nothing in this book that sheds light on anything in Forbert's life aside from music. He makes clear that he had a drinking problem for many years, for example, but never suggests why. There's almost no mention in the memoir of his parents or childhood, and his adult milestones come and go with only the briefest of mentions.

Typical is the way he talks about his marriage. One minute he's telling us that he fell in love with and wed a woman named Jill and that they had twin boys. The next, he's saying that stress between him and his wife - stress he has not previously even mentioned - "kept getting worse" and then that the marriage was in trouble. But then we learn that he and Jill had another baby. And the next thing we know after that is that he was getting divorced and had a new companion. There's nothing here about what made the marriage work initially and - aside from references to drinking and constant touring - no hint as to why it ultimately failed.