Paul Collins’ New Book: I Don’t Fit In
Paul Collins has used this pandemic time wisely. He’s been dusting off some old tapes, the result of which will be released at a future date on Alive Records. As if that weren’t enough, Paul and Chuck Nolan have completed the definitive Paul Collins career retrospective. One of the most interesting reads I’ve had in a long time, the book is a must for the power pop connoisseur – or anyone with an appreciation for pop history.
I Don’t Fit In is a candid account of a rock n roll life well lived – the good, the bad and the ugly. Chronicling his career with The Nerves, The Beat and beyond, Paul shares some great stories and sheds light in some previously dark corners. His deep appreciation for his former bandmates is evident throughout as Jack Lee in particular is never far from his thoughts.
Instead of a typical review (because this is not a typical book), I thought I’d get the skinny right from the author himself. After some quick catching up, here’s what Paul and I talked about:
PPN: Hey Paul. There’s some candid stuff here. Direct and to the point. What made this the right time to talk about them? After all, people have lawyers.
PC: It’s been a work in progress for some time. I started writing it back in Spain when I was 48. There was an original burst of creativity and then it sat around for a while. I’d pitch it here and there from time to time. Then roughly 2 years ago, Todd (at Hozac Books) suggested getting together with Chuck Nolan. We worked on it together for a year and a half, getting it into the shape it needed to be in for a proper book.
That was the value of working with Chuck. He’s made it the definitive reference book on my career. It includes a complete and accurate discography, who played on each record and it gets into the meat and potatoes of the glory years. It’s a great coffee table book.
PPN: You’re followed by the ever present aura of Jack Lee throughout the book – a really nice touch that ties everything together. Is he the angel on your shoulder – or the devil?
PC: Jack was pivotal to me. There’s the good and the bad. I think I showed people how much I care for him. Peter, too. I think I made that clear. So if anyone has a problem….
PPN: From the stories in I Don’t Fit In, it’s easy to see that you’ve taken more than your share of body blows. One comes away intrigued by the tenacity with which you approach life. What do you credit that to?
PC: I’m sure my ex wives and girlfriends would like to answer that question! Maybe it came to me while in The Nerves. “No” was not an acceptable answer back then. Whatever they said we couldn’t do, we did.
I guess it’s two equal halves. Part of it was that we didn’t know how to do anything else. If I had to, I might have become a booking agent or promoter I suppose. But then I didn’t want to be on the sideline and watch someone else get all the glory.
The other part of it comes from getting just close enough. It’s the curse that keeps you in the game. The trick is to – when all is said and done – come to peace with where you’ve been and get up each morning with renewed purpose.
PPN: You’ve had more than your fair share of victories. Which one do you most want to be remembered for?
PC: The Nerves and The Beat. We were able to put a lasting stamp on the music scene. I made music on my own terms. We were ground breaking. We inspired people. Our heart was in the right place and we did it against all odds – and through hard work. That made us successful in all the ways that are important.
If you read one rock ‘n’ roll book this year, make it Paul Collins’ I Don’t Fit In. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I couldn’t put it down. You can pre-order your copy of Paul Collins’ I Don’t Fit In from Hozac Books.