Book Review: Verse, Chorus, Monster!

‘There are monsters out there. And some may even be lurking inside yourself…’

Graham Coxon has always been my favourite member of Blur. Dave Rowntree is too quiet. Damon is too cocky. And Alex James… well, Alex James is a bit of a cunt. And I don’t say that lightly. Coxon always seemed to carry himself a little differently from the others. It turns out that’s probably because he isn’t actually a southerner (he was born on a military base in Germany and raised in Derbyshire before moving to Colchester where he eventually met Albarn – the rest, as they say, is history). Verse, Chorus, Monster!, Coxon’s raw and deeply personal autobiography, only confirmed that he is indeed the most likeable member of Blur…

Charting his rise from receiving a toy guitar for Christmas to headlining Glastonbury and playing sold-out shows at Hyde Park, plus forging an impressive solo career, Verse, Chorus, Monster! explores Coxon’s twin obsessions, music and alcohol, in a way that is matter-of-fact but also incredibly honest, sometimes painfully so. The stuff about the early days of Blur, when they were still called Seymour, is, of course, fascinating, but so are Coxon’s vivid descriptions of the effect of his alcoholism and how that manifested itself over the course of his career. Crucially, he never resorts to bitterness or sentimentality which ensures that this autobiography remains eminently readable (or listenable – I went for the audiobook read by Coxon himself) throughout.

For those interested in Blur, or the inner machinations of being in a world-famous band, or just for anyone with an interest in addiction, Verse, Chorus, Monster! is an insightful and compelling book that resulted in me considering my own relationship with alcohol and how that has affected my life. Any book that has the power to force us to look inwards is ok by me, and I genuinely loved every moment of Coxon’s dulcet tones revealing his life story, especially on the cold January nights that we have all endured over the last few weeks.

Verse, Chorus, Monster! might not be the usual sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll tell-all that you would expect from a guitar hero, but it is one of the best musician autobiographies I’ve ever read. A thoroughly enjoyable piece of work.