Life isn't easy. But for some folks, it's easier than it is for others. Mark Oliver Everett, aka E of the rock band Eels, has a lengthy catalogue of albums, resulting in some serious success as a musician across the world. But what you might not know about the rock star is that he has had one heck of a life, with lots of ups and downs. From the deaths of his entire immediate family to his struggles and accomplishments in the music industry, Everett details it all in his autobiography Things the Grandchildren Should Know.
The book starts with Everett's youthful years and travels all around through his present life, where, despite hardships and a ride on a sinking ship (so to speak), he ended up taking refuge right on top -- of the charts, birthing albums like Beautiful Freak, Electro-Shock Blues, Daisies of the Galaxy ... the list goes on and on, including his most recent collection, Useless Trinkets: B Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2007, and a greatest-hits package, Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1.
"It's definitely a combination of hard work and luck," Everett tells CL regarding his career breakthrough. "You can be the hardest worker in the world and still be unlucky. I've had a lot of unlucky moments and a lot of really lucky moments and I worked hard the whole time too."
In Things the Grandchildren Should Know, Everett delves into the nitty-gritty of his most tragic moments, including when he found his father dead from a heart attack. Shortly after his father's death, Everett took a big move to California in hopes of a music career. He had contemplated moving to New York, or he could have just stayed in Virginia.
"I'm really glad I didn't stay in Virginia," he confesses. "That certainly wouldn't have turned out well. In New York, I have no idea what would have happened there. It's really amazing how much things can be different based on the paths you take. According to my father's theory, there is a version of me that did go to New York and there's a version of me that stayed in Virginia."
Oh, yeah. Did I forget to mention just who Everett's father was? Hugh Everett III was a physicist who's praised today in the world of physics. During his lifetime, he proposed the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. But it wasn't until after his death that he would be seriously recognized for his work.
The 2007 BBC documentary Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives examines Everett's journey to learn about Hugh Everett III. By the documentary's end, Everett has delved into deep waters, coming out with a better understanding of his father. Everett describes being unsure and nervous about the production. "It turned out to be -- other than the shooting of it, which was a little difficult for me at times -- pretty easy, because it was the BBC's idea and they had it all mapped out," he says.
His autobiography, on the other hand, was a different story. "I'm used to working in music where there's all sorts of things to cushion what you're doing. Writing a book is so exacting. There's just words and paper and that's it. It was a lot harder than I ever imagined. Ironically I was working hard to make it sound as simple and unpretentious as possible. That was my goal. I was working hard writing it so that it wouldn't sound written; that's the ironic part. I wanted it to sound spoken, like I was just sitting there at a kitchen table talking to you."
Everett achieved this goal. Throughout the book, whether he is describing his father's death, his sister's suicide or his mother's defeat from cancer, Everett tells a story. He tracks his go in the music industry and other events, but he doesn't glamorize the experiences with purple prose. Instead, he keeps straight to the point, using words for fuel and not for pleasure.
The book was published under Everett's real name as opposed to his stage name, E. Everett jokes about the author byline. "It would be kind of awkward to say, 'Written by E,' although then I'd have a whole section dedicated to me in the library. Just file it under E."
Everett didn't want for Things the Grandchildren Should Know to be a rock star-type autobiography. "I didn't write it for Eels fans, I wrote it for anybody. I felt like on one level, it could be an inspirational tale for a clueless kid to see that this clueless kid made something of himself. I would have loved to have read something like that when I was younger. It would have given me some hope."
As far as his future in the literary world goes, Everett hopes to write another book when he is 80 years old -- and he hopes it'll be boring. "That's my goal. I've had so much drama in my life. I think that might be something that makes Things the Grandchildren Should Know unique, is that I'm someone who does not enjoy drama in any aspect and there's so much drama in the book. It gives it an interesting slant.
"But I'm done with the drama as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I don't have much control over that. I would just like to have no more drama from this point on, please."