‘You can tell a lot about someone in a minute, if you choose the right minute…‘
Too often, an interview or an artist profile or a movie press junket are just meaningless words and empty gestures. Token, throw away conversations that exist only to sell a product. There is an art to a good interview. A skill to casually influencing someone to let their guard down without even realising they have been manipulated. As a prominent journalist for both the Rolling Stone and Spin among others, Neil Strauss has interviewed everyone. And I mean everyone. Big stars, rock ‘n’ roll legends and starving artists have all found themselves at the other end of Strauss’ pen. Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead attempts to collate those interviews in a way that offers life advice from some of the biggest stars on the planet.
While it is the celebrity quotes that make Everyone Loves You… so compelling, Strauss is always present, whether it be through a brief explanation of context for whichever mega star he is talking to that day, or through his often hilarious asides, there are times when this almost feels like gonzo journalism. What makes the book so compelling is that Strauss seems so reluctant to become part of the story, but he inevitably does anyway. This speaks to his warmth and authenticity as an interviewer, often encouraging guarded personalities such as Chuck Berry to open up and be themselves. This does have occasional unfortunate consequences (such as Paris Hilton freely stating “I can’t stand black guys”), but for the most part, Everyone Loves You… veers between being laugh out loud funny and incredibly touching – often in the same breath.
While the style of this book, many different interviews spliced together into a narrative, won’t be for everybody, if you’re as obsessed with pop culture as I am, there is a lot to enjoy here. The fact that I wrote down the names of a bunch of musicians to check out after reading is an added bonus.