This was the first book I read in 2010, and it's going to be hard to top. Bob Greene, who's written a couple of books I've enjoyed, especially Be True to Your School, got a letter in 1992 from Gary Griffin, who was part of the group touring with Jan and Dean, mentioned in the book. Greene was a fan of the duo, and Griffin made him the dream offer of a lifetime. He invited Greene to tour with the group, not just as an observer but as a participant in the stage show.
If you grew up when I did, you'd respond just like Greene. He wasn't a singer or a guitar player, but he jumped at the chance. Every summer for 15 years, he was a part of Jan and Dean's back-up group when he could make the gigs. When We Get to Surf City is his account of those gigs. It's not a glamorous life, but Greene found it wonderful. You'll just have to read the book to find out why because I can't explain it. In a sense it's as simple as this: Guys never want to grow up, and Greene got to live his teenage dream when he was middle-aged. But there's a lot more to it than that. Every page or so, Greene comes up with an observation that really resonated with me. Here's one of them:
Who could have known it at the time - who could have known how long this would endure? On the loneliest nights, on the most joyful afternoons, during the sultriest summers and frigid winters, the music, since it was new, has been so profoundly and consistently welcome. In the very worst of times, and in the very best, this music - structurally uncomplicated, four chords in most of the songs, lyrics usually basic and bare - has been like a friend, something to be counted on and treasured. Magic: just guitars and drums and vocals, yet it has always been, without my even having to think about it, the most loyal and steadfast of companions. Wherever I have been, I have needed only to hear three or four seconds of any of hundreds of these songs, coming out of a radio or a loudspeaker or merely out an window on a city street, and I'm instantly somewhere I've been before, somewhere I want to be, familiar and somehow safe.
If that doesn't mean anything to you, you wouldn't like the book. If it strikes you as exactly right, then you should read the book ASAP.