Sonic Seducer: A Unique Book About Connecting The Past, The Present, and The Future of Rock Music

Sunil Singh
16 min readNov 26, 2022

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(The photos used here are just for the purpose of this blog. Sonic Seducer will be released in Late Summer 2024. Below is a rough draft of The Introduction.)

Some of the last words I wrote in this book are right here in these opening paragraphs. I wanted to meet myself back at the beginning, and see how the start of the book might be affected by the

32-month journey of completing it. The main thing was, that the years in which the book was written in, also happened to be the years in which I have enjoyed listening to rock music–especially new music–the most in my entire life. I didn’t see that coming, or the journey that writing the book took me on.

Most? That sure is a bold statement from this baby boomer, and one that should be rightfully audited for potential exaggeration from all of you. So, the only proof I have for making such a potentially audacious claim are the 80 000 words that lie ahead. But, to correctly communicate the enrapturing detail of my relationship with the present state of rock music–much of which will be foreign to some of you–I had to honour the past with fresh deference. Rock music has been a spiralling and sprawling continuum of our wildest and most raw emotions for over half a century. Sonic Seducer is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual mosh pit for that idea. If this sounds like great sex, that’s because the greatest rock and roll–and its charged intensity of unbridled and uncompromising expression–is communion of the highest pleasurable order. Rock and roll is not an accompaniment to sex. It is sex on its own. Equally wild, and only limited by its own creativity and curiosity.

The real beginning of this book starts below this italicized interception of it. It’s a deep, lustful plunge into an updated story of rock and roll. It also comes as advertised–heavy. But not any cliche, societal, and industry definition of heavy relating to volume or taxing mood. Fuck that. Heavy is beautiful. Heavy is celebratory. Heavy is love. Heavy is being vigorously alive. When the book gets musically heavy, it’s unbridled and unapologetic. When the book gets musically light, it’s also unbridled and unapologetic. Heavy is the abundance of all rock’s expressions and emotions. It’s the entire spectrum of sound, oscillating with frequencies that will soon become wonderfully unpredictable here. Questions like is my head going to implode with crushing doom or is my heart going to explode with transcending love will mud wrestle throughout this book.

It’s a story that will hopefully leave you breathless, astonished, and grateful about how rock and roll can be a trusted advisor, confidant, and soulmate in our lives. This is especially so when the story will get examined through a dauntingly large collection of lingering musical moments–through the seconds of our lives. Allow me now to informally share many of mine…

Seconds

If I am really lucky, I have a few billion seconds left on this planet. That’s about 32 years. Statistically though, on the precipice of turning 60 next year, I should expect to shave off a couple hundred million of them, right? No matter. The key is that my happiest intervals of time are now seconds. I thankfully lost interest in measuring life in revolutions around the Sun many moons ago. And, over the last few years it has been, whenever possible, about moments, organically calibrated by seconds. It’s all that we ever have had. Music reminded me of that.

But specifically for me, it has been rock and roll that has wisely engineered me to live, love, and laugh through those fleeting seconds. I am hardly alone on this. The uptick on so many different rock festivals over the last twenty years is the data set for the spiritual bliss that rock music has always been a provider of. It’s just more heightened now–which is completely related to my obsession with current rock music. That’s the only reason this book was written.

Rock and roll has also cradled and comforted our darkness, helping us to mourn, cry, and scream with soul-nourishing catharsis. Rock and roll’s alchemy of sound, ageless desire for connection, and appetite for fearless expression has created something that is, honestly, bigger than life itself. It has consumed me, and to a depth that could have only been revealed through the process of writing not just any music book. It had to be this one. Sonic Seducer emptied my tank. I am now done with books. I am also more happy than I have ever been in my entire life–and I was plenty happy before. Life and music just pulsate better when we splice them into smaller and smaller fragments, worming our way down to moments that surprise us with their anchoring and levitating power.

Savoring seconds in life with the aid of rock music came, however, via slow seduction. That’s a philosophical mind-bender on time and our own mortality, right? What better song to christen this book with than Time(1973) by Pink Floyd, a song that only amplifies the currency of our lives through capitalizing on our moments–which don’t have to be dull.

There’s a lot of songs mentioned in Sonic Seducer–723 to be exact. Each one has some role to play in writing the larger and more surprising narrative of this book–which by the way will be, at first, only cryptically revealed.

Alright then, since rock music has been this sacred and seductive place of restorative energy, meditation, and soulful reflection for me and so many others, we might as well get comfy with even a deeper philosophical dive about those precious seconds–the lens of measurement that defines this book. Hopefully, yours too.

“Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal. For the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it persists forever.”

Become What You Are, Alan Watts

We–as in the whole world–began a heavy audit in early 2020 of what elements of our lives truly have meaning, purpose, and value to our wellness and health. The global pandemic created a crisis that was emotionally and mentally draining, even if we managed to escape the deadly virus. But, generally speaking, there was a toll taken on our mental health, which itself was a combination of various stresses on our mind, body, and soul. All establishments dealing with entertainment shut down, including live concerts. Music, unsurprisingly, in all its form, became an even more important balm of tending to our exhaustion and frailty, as its live element shuttered down.

As someone who has seen hundreds of shows–spanning six decades–this had the potential to numb a critical part of my soul and identity. That didn’t happen. Quite the opposite. The pandemic became an inflection point for recharging my whole life through my library of rock music. That is the short explanation. The long one? You’ve started reading it!

Music insulated me from succumbing to the depression that fell on so many. I didn’t even have to listen to it. I merely had to know that it was available 24/7. To the extent that what was truly available, was why I needed to write Sonic Seducer, and drill down to collect thousands of deposits of diamond, micro-memories of rock and roll. The mere action of doing that, to be in the intellectual transit of searching–no coincidence that Searching(1976) is my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song–was enough to start releasing dopamine and oxytocin. In straight-forward rock vernacular, I was stoned out of my mind to not just the musical world that I had created, but the one that I was still purposefully and passionately creating. That is why 2022 became my favorite year of listening to music. Alas, the devil is always in the details, right? Searching and finding those mysterious elements needs a book, not a blog.

That intersection of music’s heightened currency the last few years with living in pointed moments is where there is this warming, glowing, and affirming spectrum of rock and roll’s colors. Our lifeblood for deep connection exists–has always existed–here. Bursts of human expression that warrant poetic and philosophical analysis. Each capturing a mood/feeling that colors our lives with either pointed precision or a hazy splatter. The beautiful part is we don’t know which one it will be until that moment happens. Regardless, these moments–these sonic flashes– are the ancient home of immeasurable bliss.

That is why 2022 became my favorite year of listening to music. Bold and audacious statement, right? Alas, the devil is always in the details. In this case, those details are slowly and carefully revealed for you as you read this book.

That intersection of music’s heightened currency the last few years with living in pointed moments is where there is this warming, glowing, and affirming spectrum of rock and roll’s colors. Our lifeblood for deep connection exists–has always existed–here. Bursts of human expression that warrant poetic and philosophical analysis. Each capturing a mood/feeling that colors our lives with either pointed precision or a hazy splatter. The beautiful part is we don’t know which one it will be until that moment happens. Regardless, these moments–these sonic flashes– are the ancient home of immeasurable bliss.

Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments. In connection. It flashes across time.

~Victoria Erickson

I might be leaving my fifties next year, but I am not leaving my youth because of these seconds. Sacred seconds. I’m eighteen. Always now. And guess what? I like it….

Rock and roll is the fountain of youth. These divine seconds that I just teased out above with culturally critical lyrics of the early 70’s, have been available to everyone. Now you might be rightfully thinking that the absorption of listening to music and evaluating artists/bands in seconds is an odd, unrealistic measurement of time to absorb and appreciate rock and roll. Far from it. Seconds are where the magic lies. But, realizing that — and hence, the concept of this book — didn’t come to me at the age of 18. It also didn’t come to me at 28, 38, or 48. Remember I just talked about “slow seduction”? It came at 58, with most of my life behind me. It wasn’t late. It was right on fuckin’ time.

I believe one needs lots of time–and having an exhausting pandemic to act as a catalyst for a spiritual/existential reckoning didn’t hurt matters–to fully contemplate the transcending influence of rock music. I think there are two classic rock songs that sum up this reflection–Closer To The Edge(1972) by Yes and Closer To The Heart(1977) by Rush. You need both vectors–external and internal–pushing and probing you. You also need a pretty massive collection of music that soothes and slays. In this book, Supertramp to Slayer is even too narrow of a bandwidth to fully describe all of the rejuvenating, unicorn juice of rock and roll.

You also need stories of seeing several hundred live shows. Without the totality of this, I am not punching away at the keyboard to write this book. An absence of it would have left me rudderless, with no musical purpose or direction in life. You then need all this to marinate a long time with the truths and bullshit of life. You need to be old on the outside but young on the inside. And, maybe most critically of all, you need to be–or at least fantasizing about–listening to music on high volume as much as possible. Yeah. I am advocating for loudness. With zero subtlety, that was conveyed on the front cover of this book.

Volume

That’s a key point of assumption that needs to be front-loaded in Sonic Seducer–that rock music must be played loud whenever possible. This entire book was written with me listening to music on high volume most of the time. Right now, for example, my Mac Pro’s sound level is maxed out. What am I listening to? You would think I would come right out and share it, right? But, I am not going to. Well, and I apologize in advance for being annoyingly cryptic, but I simply cannot. The meandering story of Sonic Seducer, with a surprising and satisfying ending, lands at a distant shore of immense musical treasure. It is where you would find this gem of a song–and hundreds others like it.

Not only will you find out the actual song in the last chapter, but, more importantly as to the why of its delayed placement in this winding narrative. I can however offer a clue to this ostensible absurdity. The band is from Sweden and the song came out in 2015. It is a majestic piece that weaves in the most towering moments of Rainbow’s Stargazer(1976), Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb(1979), Rush’s La Villa Strangiato(1978), and Metallica’s Fade To Black(1984). I think I actually said more than I wanted to. Oh well, more seasoning to be thrown in the mystery stew of this book. So please, bookmark this paragraph. A long story has to be told, namely how did rock and roll’s American past migrate well beyond the British Invasion, so that a Swedish band could pen a song–a song that over 99% of the population have never heard of–that is epic as fuck. Sweden has been exporting some of the best rock and roll for over…50 years.

Hey, we all love ABBA, but what the Swedes have collectively delivered in rhythm and blues, rock, punk, and metal is equally important. If we wanted to talk about album sales and radio play–commercial metrics, arbiters, and gatekeepers of music–then many of the artists, bands, and stories would just never show up. The wealth of rock and roll is in its community and the organic movements that created them. This book is the story of connecting the magnified ones with the marginalized ones, where the only commonality is irrefutable seduction of rock and roll passion–especially when socially unacceptable levels of volume are involved. Nowhere is this better conveyed than the social media jabs at people who frown upon “cranking it up”.

I am listening to (fill in the blank), and so are my neighbours.

My neighbour called the police on my loud music. They arrested her/him.

Seriously though, we need to discard the humour. When rock music is played loud, it can often seem like the sound waves are having sex with you, a relentless pounding of the flesh and the mind. After all, sound is energy. More energy just ensures the stories of rock and roll leave you wholly satisfied, smoking, proverbially at least, a Marlboro of primal content.

So, all the music referenced in this book will need to be imagined with the volume knob turned up–rock concerts are loud for a reason, right! Led Zeppelin’s How Many More Times(1968), for example, is a song I only listen to on high volume–or I don’t listen to it all. Bonham’s drums coming in at the 33-second mark to usher in the sexy strut that is the song’s riff, just bloody well demands loudness. Don’t even get me started on When The Levee Breaks(1971), and the sonic boom of Bonzo’s kit that resulted from being recorded in the expansive hallway of Headley Grange. Music and Sex. Zero separation in terms of being indulgent and tethered to loudness.

A New Lust

Once this “need” list has been thoroughly attended to, only then did a natural writing process of distilling out my experiences begin, obviously uncertain to the worth of these words in this embryonic stage. However, once I began purposely framing them in the tiny window of seconds, yielding and pausing almost every time to this melancholic microscope that I was putting music and myself under, a new awareness, poignancy, and seduction blossomed. I quickly became enchanted with my new found lust. The writing l did the same.

Not to my surprise, I understood that my seduction with rock and roll was not capable of being over-romanticized. Lingering and mooning over every single detail of a song, album artist, and time period, trying to assemble them all like a massive jigsaw puzzle as one connected story of musical magic, would be the bar that needed to be set for such ambitious writing. Only then could I hope that a unique story was told to everyone–including the most seasoned audiophiles and music critics.

Savouring and welcoming this “density” of thought, only sharpens your love for music, which sharpens your thoughts–creating this endless, iterative loop of addictive detail. You feel like you are free-falling down a psychedelic rabbit hole of rock music, seeing more color and better resolution as you effortlessly descend deeper into musical memories and moments — deeper into yourself. Paradoxically, well maybe not, you feel a lightness/buoyancy that makes you feel like you are ascending as well to the clouds. Or maybe, it is a kind of music causing that spiritual elevation. More on that later. Way more

But, let’s be honest, most of my life–and, I am guessing yours as well– rock and roll, as passionately absorbed by it I have been, was measured by the length of a song or a concert. Minutes and hours, hardly discussed and rather inert descriptors, were the generally unremarkable units of time. But, like a good scotch, a long fermentation period is required to capture the lasting essence of a song’s subtleties–a small but satisfying teaspoon of musical nectar. I think for rock and roll, the lush observations for its transcending musical notes takes much longer than even the best scotch, somewhat cruelly entangling with a time period when one is coming to grips with life’s fragility and their own mortality. And yet, this almost ridiculous acuity for micro-bursts of sound that has resulted–organically and affectionately–easily trumps the tardy deliverance of this, dare I say it, spiritual fragmentation of time. This philosophy was supposed to be delivered late. But, I couldn’t have known that. The lateness is not only the medium, but it is also the message.

Rock and roll’s value of seconds — seconds, dammit — is a gift that can really be only opened much later in life. And luck. You need luck. Lots of it. The best stories involve some ridiculous rolls of life’s dice. We wouldn’t have Black Sabbath if Tony Iommi hadn’t lost the tips of his fingers in an industrial accident at the age of 17. The limitations forced him to adjust and relearn how to play the guitar. The result was that signature heavy and fat Sabbath sound. A sound rightfully revered by millions and proudly plagiarized by hundreds of bands. What if he didn’t suffer that accident? Who knows? But, these kinds of stories add to the seductive nature of rock and roll–that its creativity and myth is often linked to rolling snake eyes

I have had countless fortuitous meetings and conversations with people who added to my library at the right moment of this still wonderfully meandering journey. The only compass has been a love for things like riffs, screams, delicate acoustic plucks, and airy vocals. It has guided me to musical terrain and landscapes that have been both familiar and foreign. Without savoring both — the past and the present — no way would I be the appreciative and grateful human I am today. Nowhere close. Savoring both in some cosmic balance is also the best elixir life has offered me. As much as I love Pink Floyd, I didn’t set the controls for the heart of the sun. There are no controls or boundaries in rock and roll. That’s why it is both loved and hated. And those that love it, get off on society’s general disfavor of rock music that can’t get cleared up for something like The Grammys.

As such I have been drifting and seeing many suns in rock and roll. Not just the ones that are the biggest or the brightest, but also with ones that are distant, shining modestly in their own galaxy — waiting to be cataloged for the rest of the world to take notice. That’s my comfort zone. That’s the zone of proximal pleasure for Sonic Seducer. Making this zone yours is the essence of Sonic Seducer. You won’t be just leaving with a laundry list of new bands to listen to, you will be leaving with hopefully a new mindset to explore music and, corny as it sounds, the hope and humanity that resides in each one of us.

Fearless and boundless curiosity to explore the edges of our world and ourselves allowed me to write three math books. It has now given me permission to write a music one.

You see, rock and roll is not just a form of music. It’s not just a culture relegated to the 70’s. Rock and roll is charged, communal, sexual energy. An energy that constantly and consistently desires for its always receding past to be amplified and redrawn for a new generation. Especially since we will continue to lose our rock icons at a rate that will only increase with time. Their stories and importance in the lore of rock and roll must be picked up by artists and musicians with even more gravitas now. Thankfully they are. You will find many of them in this book.

Like any good story, there will be slight diversions and deviations from time to time in terms of music. I always find it strange when people say something like “sorry…I digress”. You are telling a good story. I’m not here for a linear powerpoint presentation from you. I am here for some meandering, well-placed expletives, and sometimes losing the bloody plot! As such, pop, country, jazz, classical, world, and hardcore will bob up and down in this book. But, when all is said and done, the principle idea of centering raw, emotionally intense, and heavy rock and roll, will endure. Everything else will be secondary.

Each chapter in this book is a song title, most cryptically constructed to varying degrees, to describe the ideas in that chapter. While my editor, JJ Koczan, was tasked with standard responsibilities that are part of the publishing process, he was already aware that repetition–specifically, the repetition of dwelling on the seconds of rock and roll–was going to be a purposeful and powerful element in this book. To be reduced to a moment through music is really to enlarge our presence in the connectedness of our universe. To be entangled in its mystery with sporadic but satisfying intimacy. All this demands constant reminding.

Sonic Seducer attempts to transcend time and genres to illuminate the beautiful moments and memories of rock and roll — old and new. And, with a rebranding of the word “heavy” to encompass the spectrum of human pleasure and pain.

The magic lies in looking back while always moving forward. Never to turn back. We were Born To Go(1971). Allow me to be your guide to bring back not only old feelings of old music, but also new feelings as well. More important than even that is to bring new feelings for new music. To persist forever in the now.

We were born to go,
We’re never turning back
We were born to go,
And leave a burning track
We were born to go,
And leave no star unturned
We were born to grow,
We were born to learn

Born To Go, Hawkwind

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