I just finished reading Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy and Other Lies. If a book doesn’t capture me within the first chapter, I never finish it. After reading the prologue — I was hooked! (Pun intended.) I found myself smiling when I read how he accidentally caught two teens kissing at his daughter’s birthday party and didn’t know what to do. This is the Duff McKagan who, along with Guns N’ Roses, ruled the music world, sold millions of records and played sold-out stadiums around the world. Really? He didn’t know what to do? Apparently, he’s just like every other parent out there who accidentally catches two kids making out — mind races about what to do, but instead all you can say is an awkward “sorry” and quickly get the hell out of the area.
Duff talks about his addictions and the low points in his life. He also talks about how he beat those demons. Instead of going into rehab or joining an AA program, he started mountain biking, running, and practicing martial arts to help him fight his demons. He literally found another way to get high that was actually beneficial for him.
The fact that he used working out as a way to beat his demons, I find very inspirational. I am a firm believer in working out. That natural high you feel when you’re done kickin’ ass — it’s a big deal. The power of mind over body. Duff gets it. In his book, he’s honest, and tells his side of the story.
One of the things that sets Duff’s story apart from so many others in the rock memoir genre is the way his writing shows a clear love of language and the way his own voice comes through on the page. The acknowledgements and author credits name Tim Mohr, Duff’s editor at Playboy, as his editor and daily collaborator on this project. Duff’s gigs as a columnist for Playboy, ESPN.com, and Seattle Weekly bear out his own proficiency as a writer.
That proficiency doesn’t come from nowhere. The rediscovery of his academic roots and interests plays another major part in Duff’s narrative. Books about history and the works of Ernest Hemingway captured his interest early in his recovery process, and these interests eventually led him to return to college for a business degree. The balance between physical challenges of the dojo, road races, and mountain-climbing combine with a natural intellectual curiosity that leads him to becoming a Renaissance man in every sense of the phrase.
You’re probably wondering if he mentions anything about his musical career. Of course he does. He describes how he got his start in the punk scene in Seattle as a teenager, his move to LA, and eventual part in Guns N’ Roses. I loved the part about a tweaked-out truck driver who gave Guns a lift after their car broke down during their first tour. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened.) He also talks about his post-Guns musical career and relationships with so many heavy-hitters in the industry. He even provides a few recipes for dishes that sustained him and the band in the early days — even the culinary-challenged spandexpanda was able to successfully prepare his “Prep-chef Chicken” and pronounce it delicious.
Duff comes across as a very likeable guy. He is such a great storyteller. There were a few times throughout the book where I felt the pain that he was going through and rooted for him to get through it.
Both Fleur and I had the pleasure of meeting Duff in December. (I had my back turned to him and she punched my arm to get my attention. I almost punched back, but turned around and saw Duff standing there). I wish I had read this book before meeting him. I would have told him in person that I loved his book so much, I read it twice!
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