Lola Bensky

07.01.2015

I immediately wanted to read Lily Brett’s novel Lola Bensky when I saw the cover. And read the book jacket that mentions the words “London music scene”, “1967” and “rock stars”. The novel is all that but also much more. It is a work of fiction but very autobiographical at that, the author did in fact work as a rock journalist in Australia in the 60s and she did interview many rock legends.

Lola Bensky is an Australian 19-year-old music journalist who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Lola has heard many gruesome stories of the horrors of Auschwitz. These stories Lola recollects in her thoughts and sometimes even shares them with her interviewees. Lola meets and interviews for example Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. And even Paul Jones and The Bee Gees are mentioned. The passage about Paul Jones is brief but it made my day! Lola recounts her interview with Mr. Jones whom she finds very confident and direct in a good way, without false modesty.

The themes of confidence, modesty and self-esteem are very crucial in the novel. Lola Bensky, who is quite content to be a rock journalist, doesn’t know how to enjoy life or to appreciate herself. She feels fat and rather than living the life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll like so many others in music business, she spends her time working and dieting (or planning her cockamamy diets consisting of boiled eggs and watermelon). To Lola’s mother Renia, excess weight is something suspicious, as only the traitors in death camp were allowed enough food to eat, others suffered from severe malnutrition. The Holocaust is Lola’s trauma through her parents, Renia and Edek, even though Lola herself was born after the war and didn’t experience it firsthand. The badly traumatized survivors didn’t know how deal with the fact that they survived while so many others died. To Renia her survival is a constant source of antagonizing guilt which lives on in her daughter. So, The Holocaust continues to be a collective trauma also for the next generation. Everywhere Lola goes she reflects her own Jewish roots to other Jews. How to make peace with a past so dreadful? How to live and go on knowing that humanity is capable of inflicting such horrors?

The novel also brings up gender issues. As Lola talks with Janis Joplin and later Mama Cass, they both reveal the difficulties of working in a very male dominated rock music business especially as women who are not considered to be sexually attractive or beautiful in the traditional sense. However, Lola finds both Mama Cass and Janis Joplin to be happy and content with their lives. Many of the beautiful and thin celebrities Lola meets seem to be more unhappy and troubled despite their perfect appearances.

All in all, Lola Bensky is a novel about making peace with your past and finding self-worth as a woman. And stories about some great rock music personalities whose depictions might be true. Or not.

Lily Brett’s interview in The Sydney Morning Herald. 

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Privileged

08.05.2010

British Film Institute has done a great cultural deed by releasing Peter Watkins’  1967 film Privilege (starring Paul Jones) on region 2 dvd. This film was impossible to see anywhere for decades. If I recall correctly only one copy of the film exists at Universal studios, there’s not even a copy at the BFI archives. Universal studios wasn’t interested in releasing the film but thanks to BFI it is now available to anyone interested. And I truly am, for years I wanted to see this film that launched Paul Jones’ film career and starred also 60’s super model Jean Shrimpton. Privilege tells the story of Steven Shorter, the greatest pop star of all time, whose success is used to control and manipulate fan masses. Steven Shorter is merely a (unwilling) puppet in the government’s scheme to keep UK’s youth in control. Even the Church of England isinvolved in this plan. Truthfully, the film is in places a bit corny and in desperate need of editing. However, Paul Jones and Jean Shrimpton do a good job. The best thing about Privilege is (as I interpreted it) the theme or message which is that people are, as it were, sheep. Too eager to follow the crowd and too lazy to think for themselves. What the world needs is originality and critical thinking. That is a message that never grows old.

Saw The Blues Band at the 100 Club in London. Wow, those guys are just awesome! It’s been two years since I last saw Paul and company perform live. I have grown a lot older but these guys have surely not. It was a really energetic gig and the band sounded good. I was so happy to hear two of my favourite songs, Come On In & Death Letter. Paul’s harmonica solo in Flatfoot Sam was brilliant as always. Thank you guys, you made our trip to London so special!

100club

Paul Jones and Tom McGuinness

High Time

06.07.2009

paul_jonesFinally got my hands on Paul Jones’ new solo album Starting All Over Again. It’s been a long long time since the last solo album from him. Well, he’s been busy with the Blues Band, The Manfreds and his radio show on BBC2. ❤ The two things I adore the most are still there, his voice and the harmonica. Probably the greatest voice and the finest harmonica player ever! With Paul Jones it’s all about the blues. Starting All Over Again comprises some fine (blues) tunes, famous musicians and impressive arrangements. I especially enjoyed the title track as well as Still True and I’m Gone. I can’t exactly put it into words why. It’s just beautiful. And I can only imagine how these songs would sound like live. Maybe I’ll get a chance to hear him again live someday.

It’s good to know that some things never change. Mr. Jones’ music (solo work, with Manfred Mann, The Blues Band etc.) has been with me for a long time. I listened to Manfred Mann when I was a teenager and desperate (for various things). I played Paul Jones’ solo albums nonstop in my stereo when I was in high school. I had a  Blues Band addiction in university. And still his music moves me. I’m lucky.
Paul Jones with the Blues Band in 2007  ©grezilda

Paul Jones with the Blues Band in 2007 ©grezilda