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Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir by Lita Ford

Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir

by Lita Ford

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    Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways by Evelyn McDonnell (ijustgetbored)
    ijustgetbored: McDonnell does her best to provide a balanced account of the days of The Runaways, something Ford does not do. If what you're looking for is an account of that band, I suggest starting with this one.

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Initial disclosure: my primary interest in a Lita Ford autobiography stems from her time with The Runaways; my interest in her solo career is tangential. The title, of course, certainly suggests ample Runaways material.

It would not be fair to limit a guitarist as talented as Ford to her teenage career, but, in this book, she does herself a disservice by writing as if she were still a teenager: she is the center of every event. Nothing that has ever happened is/was her fault. She is always the good guy. She is misunderstood. Doubtless, these claims are sometimes true, but they're made so often, it becomes impossible to tell when she's telling the truth and when she's not. In the end, it all seems overblown and dubious.

Speaking specifically of The Runaways, there is so much that is a mixture of truth and legend: who knows what really happened? However, she tells many stories I have never seen in any other context and which I am extremely tempted to cast as Ford-fables. A primary reason for this, which I will address again, is that Ford tends to be either the hero or the victim in these stories. I admire her for admitting that she first quit the band in 1975 because realizing that some bandmates were gay or bisexual "fucked with [her] head" (p. 29). She does not sugarcoat this reason, and she does attempt to place her ignorance in the context of the what a teenager in 1975 knew. However, on the next page she refers to "[coming] to terms with their behavior" (p. 30), which is not precisely the way I would have hoped she would have phrased this as an adult in 2016.

In final Runaways issues, the memoir is truly notable for what it does and does not discuss. I will not parse individual events in a review, but I would suggest comparing this with Queens of Noise by Evelyn McDonnell.

I was hoping for a memoir that focused on music and what it has been like to evolve as a female musician from the 70s to the present. This book doesn't even scratch the surface of that. Ford's only refrain is that she wanted to show men she could also play guitar, no matter what anyone said or believed. Potential topics of interest that go unexplored are the role that the presentation/packaging of female sexuality has played in her career, relationships and collaborations with other female musicians (unless I miscounted, she gives unqualified thanks to exactly one other female musician in the book), gender dynamics on- and off-stage-- I could go on. I am not saying that this should have been a theoretical manifesto; my issue is that it's 262 pages of name-dropping, celebrity gossip, and grievances about who has done her wrong.

A very specific complaint is that she outs several people in the text, something that I cannot condone. At the same time, she drops a cloth over much of her married life. That's her right if she does not feel safe discussing it, but she is apparently unaware that the same right to privacy extends to other people (in multiple situations involving multiple disclosures).

I do not feel like I know any more about Ford as a musician after reading this. I tried to imagine what it would be like for someone entirely unfamiliar with her to read this book, and I'm fairly certain that reader would not even be able to figure out such basic things as which albums were commercial successes. It's as if Ford wrote this book in order to present a very specific picture of herself for some agenda completely unrelated to fans and music lovers. As such, it's extraordinarily alienating. ( )
1 vote ijustgetbored | Mar 5, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062270648, Hardcover)

The legendary former lead guitarist of The Runaways—“heavy metal’s leading female rocker” (Rolling Stone)—opens up about the ’70s and ’80s music scene and her extraordinary life and career in this long-awaited, emotionally powerful memoir.

Lita Ford lived her dreams, until her life turned into a nightmare. She left home at age sixteen to join the world’s first all-female rock group, the Runaways—a band whose legend was sealed by the 2010 hit movie starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning—and went on to become the first woman hard rock guitarist, a platinum-selling star who gave Ozzy Osbourne his first Top Ten hit, a bare-ass, leather-clad sexy babe whose hair was bigger and guitar licks were hotter than any of the guys. She is also the mother of two sons whose harrowing tale of her catastrophic marriage to a metal rocker makes Ike and Tina Turner sound like life at the country club.

But in the end, Lita’s story changes from a music story to a woman’s story—a wrenching, desperate drama of human bondage and a mother’s love, a life-and-death struggle over her own soul. Trapped in an increasingly terrifying marriage, systematically stripped of her connections to the outside world, Lita Ford became a prisoner in her own life, a slave to her husband’s demands, living like a captive. She plotted her escape and her freedom cost her the boys she stayed in the marriage to protect. Her graphic, explicit story will terrify and horrify readers, but they won’t be able to put it down.

Living Like a Runaway will shock people with the candor that Lita Ford shines on her dramatic life story. At ease as a woman in the previously all-male world of rock, Lita shares with her male counterparts an unvarnished directness when it comes to topics such as sex, drugs, money or fame. No female rock star of Lita’s stature has ever before told the real story of women in rock. With unprecedented rawness and honesty, Living Like a Runaway reminds us that Lita Ford is not only one of music’s greatest pioneers, but also one of its fiercest survivors.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:48 -0400)

The legendary lead guitarist of The Runaways presents a brutally honest memoir in which she opens up about her violently abusive marriage to a metal rocker and how her escape and freedom cost her the sons she stayed in the marriage to protect.

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