Been So Long: My Life and Music (Hardcover)
This most personable of rock biographies reveals Jorma to have been one of the more sensible members of Jefferson Airplane (or that he'd like to be thought of as such). It's not the best-written of its ilk, but it's comprehensive and diary-based, so if it happened, here it is: no picking and choosing. The years of Hot Tuna are covered extensively, as is his recent life, and I'm surprised at the clarity with which the entire affair is recalled. Includes extensive lyrics and photos. -Matt— From Recent Staff Picks
"A modern parable." —from the foreword by Grace Slick
“Jorma Kaukonen is a force in American music, equally adept at fingerpicked acoustic folk and blues as he is at wailing on an electric.” – Acoustic Guitar
“Jorma Kaukonen lit a fuse and transformed his electric guitar into a firework.” – Live For Live Music
Includes a CD of live music as a companion to the book!
From the man who made a name for himself as a founding member and lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane comes a memoir that offers a rare glimpse into the heart and soul of a musical genius—and a vivid journey through the psychedelic era in America.
“Music is the reward for being alive,” writes Jorma Kaukonen in this candid and emotional account of his life and work. “It stirs memory in a singular way that is unmatched.” In a career that has already spanned a half century—one that has earned him induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among other honors—Jorma is best known for his legendary bands Jefferson Airplane and the still-touring Hot Tuna. But before he won worldwide recognition he was just a young man with a passion and a dream.
Been So Long is the story of how Jorma found his place in the world of music and beyond. The grandson of Finnish and Russian-Jewish immigrants whose formative years were spent abroad with his American-born diplomat father, Jorma channeled his life experiences—from his coming-of-age in Pakistan and the Philippines to his early gigs with Jack Casady in D.C. to his jam sessions in San Francisco with Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and other contemporaries—into his art in unique and revelatory ways. Been So Long charts not only Jorma’s association with the bands that made him famous but goes into never-before-told details about his addiction and recovery, his troubled first marriage and still-thriving second, and more. Interspersed with diary entries, personal correspondence, and song lyrics, this memoir is as unforgettable and inspiring as Jorma’s music itself.
About the Author
JORMA KAUKONEN has been one of the most highly respected interpreters of American roots music, blues, and Americana, and at the forefront of popular rock 'n roll. He is the founding member and guitarist of two legendary bands, Jefferson Airplane and the still touring Hot Tuna. He is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy nominee. In addition to his work with Hot Tuna, Jorma has recorded more than a dozen solo albums. Jorma and his wife Vanessa operate Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, one of the world's most unique centers for the study of guitar and other instruments.
Praise for Been So Long:
"A quick, engaging read..." —Associated Press
"Been So Long is a survivor’s tale, well told and sprinkled with a bit of 1960s fairy dust." —Wall Street Journal
"Jefferson Airplane guitarist Kaukonen’s candid and affectionate memoir resembles the rambling and free-flowing road trips he enjoys.... A mesmerizing storyteller, Kaukonen delivers a memoir as intricate and dazzling as his music." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"At a time when many rock stars are releasing memoirs, Jorma Kaukonen's Been So Long: My Life and Music stands apart.... an incredibly insightful look inside the life of a musician who was not only influenced by some of America’s greatest music but who also left an indelible mark on that very same musical landscape." —AXS
"Been So Long could be considered a text that reveals not only the musical heart of Jorma Kaukonen, but his heart in and of itself. It is a memoir of a man who has lived an eventful life and has decided to take advantage of his later years to consider his past and his legacy both as an artist and as a human being." —Counterpunch
"Kaukonen’s ingenuity, his creativity, his desire to follow a story wherever it takes him, and his crisp writing permeate his new autobiography Been So Long: My Life and Music; his writing is as smooth and intricate as his fingerstyle blues, and he’s a rattling good raconteur, drawing us in with tales of his days in the Airplane and Hot Tuna, and always candid about his own battles with alcoholism and drug use and his failed first marriage.... Kaukonen’s illuminating stories and lilting prose warm us with this glow, too, and the book carries us on a lyrical journey through the hills and valleys of a man who is one of the five best guitarists playing today." —No Depression journal
"A sweeping span of a life well lived and should be a cornerstone to any library, personal or public, that deals with American history, musical history or a range of disparate perspectives on human nature." —Stomp and Stammer
"But just as Jorma Kaukonen has followed whatever path in his life musically he feels at any given time, his book likewise travels roads you many not expect to go down, but still create a unique portrait of the artist." —Houston Press
"Reflective and insightful...an intriguing picture of a man for whom music is not merely a vocation but, rather, the source of life itself. Entertaining and emotional, alternately exhilarating and depressing, this is a special musician’s memoir, and it will strike a resounding chord with fans of classic rock." —Booklist
"Amiable and informative... An honest personal portrait." —Kirkus Reviews
"Kaukonen writes with narrative flair..." —Library Journal
"A modern parable." —from the foreword by Grace Slick
"Jorma comes across as a real guy ...saying what he really did ...and how he actually feels ....kind of what you’d expect if you knew him ...but very unusual for a book ...they are seldom this honest or this good." —David Crosby
"Jorma Kaukonen has produced an enduring body of original music, and devoted a lifetime to introducing a broad audience to blues, roots and Americana. Been So Long is an important read for anyone who loves music. It is thoughtful, insightful and downright fun. In Japan, artists who have made the greatest contributions are designated as Living National Treasures. For many reasons, Jorma is a truly Living National Treasure. I learned a lot from Been So Long, and I highly recommend it." —Jesse Finkelstein, Blues Radio International
"Meet Jorma Kaukonen – genius guitarist of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, speed skater, diarist, lyricist, husband, father, teacher and storyteller. His Been So Long reads like his guitar playing sounds – sharp, and stinging mixed with sweet and gentle. Reading this book was like having him sitting next to you, whispering the story of his life in your ear." —Joel Selvin, Music Journalist and Author of Altamont:The Rolling Stones, The Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day
Praise for Jorma Kaukonen:
“Kaukonen's brilliant acoustic guitar work results in an aural feast.” —Raleigh News & Observer
“Kaukonen doing what he does involves playing folk/blues-derived guitar with skill and dexterity few can match.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Nobody does the acoustic blues better these days than the founder of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna guitarist, Jorma Kaukonen.” —Popmatters
“With early Tuna, there was a bit of respectful distance; they were playing an older generation's music and giving it a few psychedelic tweaks. Today, Kaukonen plays that music like it's his own; the hard-lived sentiments are those he has experienced firsthand.” —Sound & Vision Magazine
“The playing is quietly astounding, but it’s the sincere love for these songs that pushes the plow.” —Detroit Free Press