12th February 2013

Huffington Post meets author of Bowie: Album by Album, Paolo Hewitt

"I also grew up with David Bowie. He was a hero of mine in the Seventies. There's a perception that I'm interested in a certain kind of music, Modernism and the associated R 'n' B, which I am, but my interests extend to a great variety of things,' he says, sipping a limonata.

As a journalist and  author of over 20 books, inlcuding The Looked After Kid, The Small Faces: The Young Mod's Forgotten Story and Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis, Hewitt is a writer who has long immersed himself in the worlds of music, fashion and sport.

Born in Redhill in Surrey in 1958, he grew up in nearby Woking. 'I took upon Woking as my home town,' he says. 'The first mosque in Britain, the Shah Jahan Mosque, was built there in 1889. It's an interesting place, Woking. But I haven't been back for a long while. I consider myself a Londoner now.'

Having tried Woking for a living, he found he was in need of a move to London where he began his writing career in earnest at NME and Melody Maker, going on to document the history of The Jam with the 1984 book The Jam: A Beat Concerto.

Quite incredibly, Hewitt currently has out three books and a feature film, Outside Bet, which he wrote with Mark Baxter... 'I've also just had published Bowie: Album by Album. Robert Elms has written the introduction.

'It's the 40th anniversary of Bowie's groundbreaking album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and is a look at each of his albums and the era in which they were made.'

Though identifiable as a music writer, Paolo is also very much a social historian. 'The thing about the internet these days, and home recording, is that music has become so much more accessible, but to be honest with you, I can't keep up with it all. Every week I read reviews of bands I've never heard of, and they've all made classic albums, and they're all on their fourth classic album as well!' he laughs.

'So I'm interested in the phenomenon that popular music was 50 years ago. The fascination people have with The Beatles is centered around the immense and sudden popularity that they enjoyed. As they got bigger and bigger, they got more interesting...

...Paolo's writings are prolific and very accessible. 'Because my work reads easily, people think writing is easy. But as any writer will tell you, the writer's skill lies in making the reader think that they, the reader, can write as well as the writer that they are enjoying!'

Of his respect for Bowie's unique place in the music world, he's adament. 'Bowie doesn't do any interviews. He's been very clever since his health scare in 2003, and has realised, for example, that standing in a field on a February night singing to 30,000 Germans is not for him anymore. And he's also kept whatever he is currently working on a close secret, so every year the myth that is Bowie grows.

'Songwriters tend to define themselves as being songwriters by constantly writing and producing, adding to their body of work. But Bowie has transcended that with his filmwork and art.'...

... He agrees that Britain is a country replete with creative individuals. 'People always come up to me and say "I want to write a book". And though they're unaware of the effort and dediation required to actually writer one, the fact that they want to write one is evidence of the respect people have in this country for creativity. Writing a book is seen as lending a person a certain cachet that they wouldn't ordinarily have.'... The way the publishing industry works now is that marketing departments have the final say so, in that if a book is considered unmarketable, it'll not see the light of day. But that isn't to say that all publishing companies are the same. These days, to get a deal, you have to produce much much more than you ever did in the past. It's the nature of the trade these days.

'All I can do is come up with ideas. What never changes for a writer is the formulation of ideas. In mywriting I've always been disciplined. I've never not been. It's the most important thing. I'm always looking to improve. I'm a voracious reader. The funny thing is, I sometimes crave a day off, but when I get it, all I can do is think about getting back to work!'

- Article by Jason Holmes, The Huffington Post, 23rd October 2012

Read the full article by Jason Holmes at the Huffington Post.

Find out more about Bowie: Album by Album by Paolo Hewitt, available now.

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