Punk Paradox: A Memoir

Hachette. Nov. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780306924583. $30. MUSIC
Graffin recalls his nearly singular double life as a singer/songwriter and an academic. The son of two university-level educators, he begins with his childhood and emphasizes the disturbing, confusing, and wrenching effects of his parents’ divorce on him. The author moves to the early 1980s in Southern California, where he and his teenage friends formed the hardcore punk band, Bad Religion, which grafted Graffin’s socially conscious lyrics onto the buzz-saw attack of L.A. punk. Eschewing the violent, drug-filled punk lifestyle, Graffin both persisted with Bad Religion amid changing personnel and an increasingly poppy, harmony-heavy sound and forged ahead with his academic pursuits. By the ’90s, Graffin temporarily quit graduate school and went through a painful divorce, when he encountered the nonstop, crushing commitments of commercial success with Bad Religion, which signed to a major label and climbed the charts alongside such power-pop punkers as Green Day and Blink-182. He concludes with his continued role as a singer/lyricist in the long-lasting Bad Religion and his university-level teaching after earning a PhD in zoology.
VERDICT The hard-driven Gaffin compellingly and eloquently describes the rewards and pitfalls of a career as successful musician and academic that will fascinate general readers.
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