Book Review: This Book Is Broken [Stuart Berman, 2009]

I moved to Toronto in 2001 and quickly got wrapped up in the Broken Social Scene story by going to their shows and following their side projects. I made some good friends who shared my BSS passion who I am still good buds to this day. I still get a bit star struck when I see Kevin Drew or Jason Collett walking around my neighbourhood.

This Book Is Broken is written for kids who are into the Twitter and Facebook. It is a series of quotes and excerpt from interviews with the band, that when chronologically placed together, tell the story of the band, from the bands point of view.

The book starts out with a really good snap shot of the Canadian music industry in the late 90’s and follows the bands progression through the 2000’s up to 2008. Within the book there are tones of, facts and interesting tidbidts that will make you glad that you chose to read it.

Within the interviews, there is a strong focus on the collaborative nature of the band. When people speak of BSS they envision this picture of a big spider web, where every band member is connected to other band members. BSS totes the line of just doing what you love. The BSS story is typically seen as a bunch of musicians within a music community just playing music for the love of it, and it was this love of music and collaborative spirit which took them to the top. Sure that is part of their story, but after reading this book I no longer believe that it was so simple.

The more I read, the more I realized that the BSS story is not a unique one. Within any arts community you could draw a similar web of connectivity be it theatre, film or poetry. In any given city there are communities of musicians who play and support each other. Lots of people do things for the love of it, and lots of people are still poor and go relatively unrecognized by the general public. So what was so special about the BSS community that allowed them to be propelled to the top? Were they better musicians? Were they cooler than everybody else? Did they work harder than everybody else? I don’t necessarily think so.

After reading this book I believe that the story of BSS starts and ends with Jeffrey Remedios. Let me explain.

I used to believe in the theory that if you were talented and better than everybody else, that this special talent of yours would be enough for you to make a name for yourself and you would rise to the top in whatever you strived to be. However, as I get older I realize that I was wrong. I know lot of talented hard working artists and professionals who are still struggling, while their less talented associates rise to the top. I have since changed my theory to include an additional factor necessary to be successful…luck. I call it luck, others call it being in the right place at the right time, whatever.

So where does Jeffrey Remedois fit into all of this? In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Jeffrey was working for Virgin Music Canada as their director of promotions when he got a new roommate named Kevin Drew. They met, things started to happen, and long story short, Jeffrey left Virgin Music, and in 2002 he started Arts & Crafts with Kevin Drew just a few doors down the hall from his old office at Virgin. Boom, there you go. BSS is famous. Well, not quite, but this connection was a major factor in the making of the band and launching them internationally.

This video by Kirby at Goodiebag sums up my theory:

There is no doubt that BSS is talented and hard working, but that alone wont get you everywhere in this world. You need something else. After reading this book I concluded that had Kevin Drew and Jeffrey Remedois not been roommates, BSS would not have broken onto the international music scene like they did. Overall, this book has made me hopeful that there is potentially a Jeffrey Remedois out there for each of us. We just need to keep busitng our ass off until we find him. Buy this book.

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Posted on by Wade in Everything

About Wade

Transplanted east coaster now in Toronto. Lover of Canadian music and comedy

One Response to Book Review: This Book Is Broken [Stuart Berman, 2009]

  1. Mark

    Interesting… The luck factor certainly does contribute to who gets propelled to the top.

    And then once there, the humble ones struggle with the “Why Me Syndrome?”, when they know that deep down they know so many other talented individuals that are just as, or even more, deserving than they.

    To the victor go the spoils.

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