Pros: Inspiring and talks a lot about willpower, memorable for inspirational moments
Cons: Can be too preachy at times
The Bottom Line: Fieldy is a cool nickname.
I just read Got the Life by Korn bassist Fieldy. And I can tell you for certain that it truly is a shocking book. There are shockers all over the place in Got the Life, and I'd like to share a few of them with you. Are you ready? Okay.... Shocker the first: There apparently are some people on this planet who actually LIKE Limp Bizkit. Korn discovered the Limpsters and their debut album went platinum. Second shocker: Fieldy did lots of drugs, but he never actually snorted any due to severe allergies. My third and most shocking shocker requires a little bit of background. I was going through the last leg of my adolescence during the boy band craze in the late 90's. I remember getting home from school and flipping on MTV's Total Request Live and getting annoyed that the latest teen icon was in first. Shocker number three is that Korn's "Got the Life" video was the first one retired from TRL rotation due to how long it spent at number one. "Freak on a Leash" followed.
I generally like Korn's music, but it was an acquired taste for me. As I mentioned, they hit it big during my formative years and while I liked it and owned their album Follow the Leader, I never made Korn my voice of rebellious teenage angst. Although I did know a real windbag in high school who claimed one of the members of Korn was his cousin. (He later switched his bogus famlial affiliation to some guy from Silverchair.) After graduating from high school, I parted ways with Korn for lack of a better phrase and let them fall off the face of the Earth, not keeping track of what they were doing. My curiosity about Got the Life was ignited after spotting it in a bookstore while looking for something fun.
Korn is a Los Angeles-based metal outfit so you can pretty much guess Got the Life by the numbers. Poor upbringing, developing a passion for music, getting into drugs, forming a band, hitting it big, doing even more drugs, nearly killing himself, women, multiple violent marriages, trashed hotel rooms, revelation, getting sober, enjoying the life he would have had earlier if he had never done those things. All shock jokes from the first paragraph aside, there are some very shocking points and aspects of Got the Life, but not in the way you're thinking. The true shocking things about Got the Life is that Fieldy writes it somewhat candidly, pulls punches, and gets a little bit preachy toward the end.
That isn't to say there aren't a few of unique, fun rock star anecdotes in Got the Life. There are a few; one of my favorites was about the way Korn lived in a cabin in the woods while recording their first album, another is that Fieldy blew through his advance money from Korn's first album so quickly, he ended up taking a day job as a carpet cleaner while recording their second album even though the first went platinum, and yet another is how the man legally known as Reggie Arvizu picked up the odd nickname "Fieldy." It's just that there aren't as many of them as you would expect, and Got the Life will lose points for that because those anecdotes are why people enjoy rock biographies. Fieldy confesses that Korn grew sick of each other, but he doesn't give us sequence for the way it happened. There are no details about fights, anger, or rivalries. But Fieldy admits he was drunk most of the time and so a few missing scenes from his memory are entirely possible. And he also admits he was a jerk and a bully.
By most objective standards, Got the Life is not a great book even by the airline nugget standards of rock autobiographies. But Fieldy has a very endearing quality to him that I can't quite pinpoint. Maybe it was his earnestness or his to-you-face honest style of telling the story. But Fieldy isn't writing his autobiography to shock you, like Motley Crue, or to give you a generic, apologetic healing process like LL Cool J. Fieldy only wants to tell you his full story in the best way he knows how. Although there is a definite vein of apology which runs through much of the book, Fieldy likes to remember the good times through rose goggles even as he admits that he was an idiot for acting the way he did.
A LOT of rock star biographies go through a revelatory phase, but Fieldy actually goes all the way and becomes a devout, born-again Christian. It's around this point that his writing begins to get inspiring, and just plain old happier. Fieldy is a guy who, when it comes to religion, gets it more than a lot of so-called religious people. Fieldy states that being a good Christian isn't about religion, but about following the words of Jesus Christ, a point which I can definitely agree with him on despite my atheism. He also talks a good game about will and how it affects peoples' abilities to give up destructive habits. The tale of how and why he was able to give up drugs and alcohol are very positive, and I was impressed by the fact that he was able to give up his overeating.
Fieldy talks a little about his father in the beginning of the book, almost to the point where you worry that his father will hover over it like a specter. Fortunately, that doesn't happen. Even though his father's last wish was that Fieldy accept Jesus as his savior, Fieldy never lets the ghost of his old man dominate his story or even the motivations for his becoming a Christian. In fact, he states that he had a lot of reasons for never becoming a Christian and never believed God would accept him. There's a point added to this at the very beginning of the book when he writes up a short list of rules that he used to live by.
Got the Life is a short read, but there are some memorable scenes in it. Incredibly, the most memorable scenes and quotes come after his turning to Christianity. This probably means that he did what he set out to do when he decided to write Got the Life. When I finished and found that I remembered the new Fieldy better than the old Fieldy, I thought to myself "now this is a truly changed and happy man." There's not a whole lot of material in Got the Life, and Fieldy's method of writing is simplistic and will make it speed by even faster. But you can't help but feel happy for Fieldy as well as everyone who knows him and had to put up with his jerk phase. Fieldy mentions that he seriously considered becoming a minister. I hope he does that. Minister Fieldy would be a pretty cool guy.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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A bassist and founding member of the hard-core metal band Korn describes how the group was nearly destroyed by drugs and alcohol, his own struggles through addiction and recovery, and his redemptive spiritual transformation after the mysterious death of his born-again Christian father.