The Wire


Epiphanies: Life-changing Encounters With Music ed. Tony Herrington

Epiphanies: Life-changing Encounters With Music ed. Tony Herrington

Published by Strange Attractor, 2015 (192 pages; paperback)

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The monthly Epiphanies column has been running in The Wire since issue 167 (January 1998). Now more than 50 of the most evocative Epiphanies essays have been anthologised in this new book, in which a cast of musicians, authors and critics detail their personal experiences of music’s transformative powers.

Contributors include Little Annie, Jerry Dammers, Geeta Dayal, Paul Gilroy, Michael Gira, Kenneth Goldsmith, Jonny Greenwood, David Grubbs, Adam Harper, Stewart Lee, Lydia Lunch, Momus, Ian Penman, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Nina Power, Simon Reynolds, Sukhdev Sandhu, Robert Wyatt and more.

Subjects covered range from Sun Ra to Kate Bush; Fugazi to Ligeti; South Africa’s World Cup vuvuzelas to Hungarian prog rock; noisy street protests to the deathly silence inside an anechoic chamber.

The book has been edited by The Wire's Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Tony Herrington and designed by the magazine's art director Ben Weaver, with illustrations by Sculpture’s Reuben Sutherland.

Full list of chapters:

"Little Annie Bandez on the rhythms and blues of New York"

"Ed Baxter on the crepuscular blues of Nehemiah ‘Skip’ James"

"Clive Bell on Henry Cow’s chamber music"

"Marcus Boon on the contagious sounds of the global South"

"Philip Brophy on the problem with John Cage"

"Samantha Brown on the lesson Bob Dylan learned from a song by a girl from the North country"

"Byron Coley on the DIY cut-ups of Orchid Spangiafora"

"Matthew Collin on the sounds of resistance in war-torn Serbia"

"Richard Cook on a compulsive jones for collecting records"

"Cathal Coughlan on the war songs of Slapp Happy and Art Bears"

"Jerry Dammers on his appreciation of Sun Ra and his cosmic music"

"Erik Davis on how Ligeti’s Requiem turned his body into a giant ear"

"Laina Dawes on black women who rock"

"Geeta Dayal on the drones that bridged a generation gap"

"Brian Dillon on the feelings unleashed by Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love"

"Michel Faber on a spontaneous music ensemble encountered in the back streets of Budapest"

"Paul Gilroy on two electrifying performances by The Voices Of East Harlem"

"Michael Gira on the sounds of fear and loathing"

"Kenneth Goldsmith on the joy of acquiring music via file sharing networks"

"Jonny Greenwood on the irreconcilable musical differences between live and recorded sound"

"David Grubbs on the seismic shock of short performances"

"Adam Harper on the infinite music contained within a Cornelius Cardew graphic score"

"Richard Henderson on the mind-expanding texture-sound of David Bowie’s Low"

"Ken Hollings on the alien beauty of Martin Denny’s exotica"

"Matthew Ingram on meeting his classic rock heroes"

"Vijay Iyer on a single mystical chord played by the pianist Cecil Taylor"

"David Keenan on how The Pastels messed up his hair for good"

"Stewart Lee on the common ability of great humour and great music to surprise"

"Alan Licht on Eddie Van Halen’s guitar pyrotechnics"

"Lydia Lunch on the industrial opera of a New York race riot and the music that soundtracked it"

"Ian McMillan on the education of his ears"

"Howard Mandel on a Soviet rock star who never was"

"Brian Marley on an unhealthy obsession with the composer Charles Ives"

"Barry Miles on experiencing The Beatles’ group mind and studio smarts firsthand"

"Momus on the sheer intensity of quiet music"

"Alex Neilson on the nocturnal solitude evoked by Frank Sinatra’s saddest songs"

"Anne Hilde Neset on the empowering swagger of Run DMC"

"Genesis Breyer P-orridge on the psychedelic designs of Hapshash And The Coloured Coat"

"Ian Penman on the hieroglyphic beyond of Jimi Hendrix’s "Voodoo Chile""

"Chris Petit on the fleeting pleasures of the single evocative songline"

"Edwin Pouncey on Todd Rundgren’s sweet soul music"

"Nina Power on the revolutionary dialectics of Fugazi’s Red Medicine"

"Simon Reynolds on the sound, image and idea of Scritti Politti"

"Sukhdev Sandhu on the eloquent passions of a long forgotten Bristol fanzine"

"Mike Shallcross on being scorched by the fire of The Gun Club’s atavistic Americana"

"Adrian Shaughnessy on being drummed out of school by The Tony Williams Lifetime"

"Philip Sherburne on the pleasure of parting with half his record collection"

"Mark Wastell on finding himself over dressed and under prepared for a night of avant garde jazz"

"Hugo Wilcken on Joy Division’s exotic existentialism"

"Luke Williams on how an anechoic chamber cured his writer’s block"

"Robert Wyatt on the genius of Ray Charles"

"Rob Young on encountering a bunch of nuts at the Edinburgh Festival"