British singer-songwriter, known for his hauntingly poetic lyrics, will publish his second collection of actual poetry in early December. Infused with candor, raw emotion and his signature wry humor, Losing My Misery is at once brash, funny and heartbreaking, exposing the writer's foibles as well as his poignant insights into the human condition. It follows 2012's Losing My Brotherhood of which one writer said: "With a few short words, Long brings us into his world, if only for a moment, and shows us exactly what he sees."
In an innovative roll-out, Losing My Misery will initially be offered exclusively for pre-order during Long's PledgeMusic campaign to finance his fourth album, which launched this week. The PledgeMusic offering will include a laminated bookmark and an mp3 recording of Long reading selections from the book and talking about some of the poems specifically. This package will only be available via the PledgeMusic campaign, and the book will become available at retail in December.
Bobby Long, who emerged from London's folk music renaissance and now lives in New York, brought a sharpened focus to writing Losing My Misery. "I've grown older, and I think I've matured a lot, and my priorities have changed," Long explains. "I think I have become a bit more self aware, and I care more about the people I love than myself. I've written about them, which is something this book reflects openly."
One of those focuses is on his family and his childhood, and particularly growing up in rural Wiltshire. "My family was not the most functional, but it was anything but boring," he recalls, "and we seemed to attract a lot of funny situations. When I was a kid, I felt safe thanks to my parents and their hard work, but I was exposed to some really humorous situations so my childhood was great." For a colorful example of funny childhood situations, one need only turn to his epic poem called "South of France" for a rollicking extensive depiction of a family holiday gone awry in oh so many different ways.
"So much to do, so much to see,
but Mam and Dad are desperate for hospitality,
gin and tonics, beer and my sister's on her phone,
I'm too busy scoffing my face with giant Toblerone,
my Dad gets excited
as he leans back to relax, we're finally on the ferry, we're not paying any tax."
--excerpt from "South of France"
Long wrote his first poem when he was 11, an opus about a part-time goalkeeper who scored in the 93rd minute to keep his side in the 3rd division. That was back when he thought he might grow up to play professional football. "It was a school project, and I loved it," he says. "I really started writing thanks to my teacher Mrs. Mills who was a lovely woman. She encouraged me, and I'm really indebted to her." Mrs. Mills gave the struggling student a Dylan Thomas book and inspired his love of reading. A school trip to a poetry reading in Bristol, England cemented his love of poetry. "I had to sit in the front row of the theatre because all the other seats were taken. Up stepped a poet called John Cooper Clarke, and I was spellbound. Clarke rattled off his poems like Eminem and spoke about drugs, poverty in Northern England (where I was born) sprinkled with great comedy and street slang that I could relate to. I was hooked." He rates Clarke's "Majorca" among his all-time favorite poems as well as the work of writers like Simon Armitage, Pablo Neruda and Leonard Cohen.
Poetry transitioned into songwriting and critical acclaim for his affecting lyrics. Now he says poetry has evolved into a creative outlet that effectively improves his songwriting. Some of his songs begin as poems (and vice versa). "If a poem doesn't work with a melody, then I won't sing it. If it does, I will." The poem "Kill Someone," for example, from Losing My Misery, is also a powerful song included on his Compass Records album, ODE TO THINKING.
Losing My Misery was largely written after he finished writing and recording "Ode to Thinking." "I've had a constant thorn in my side most of my life, and I had a moment of clarity in dealing with some obstacles-mainly anxiety and depression-and this book reflects the journey in it and through it. I addressed the problems, and I feel like I've lost my unnecessary misery."
The cover of the book-designed by Jessica Gattone of Sparetire Design- includes a stark illustration of Long on the front cover created by artist Hilary Huckins-Weidner and a black and white photo taken by Long on the back. The new book has also given Long a forum for showcasing his artistic skills by contributing the 10 drawings that illustrate some of the poems. "I like the creative aspect of drawing," he says. "I'm not trying to be good, but I like the expression and my ability to create freely. I love John Lennon's drawings and Leonard Cohen's drawings, and I feel like it's another way of accessing their minds. That's what I'm trying to do. It's another way of handing over more of myself."