cover image Life in Double Time

Life in Double Time

Chronicle Books, Mike Lankford. Chronicle Books, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0683-1

Lankford, who was born in Oklahoma in 1951, isn't famous, nor does he know anyone who is. Like legions of teenagers before him, he fell in love with rock and roll and chose to play the drums. He pestered his mother for a kit, practiced in his garage, dealt with kids of disparate ego and ability and eventually toured the country with two weirdly charismatic black musicians from Chicago in a dilapidated truck, playing anything and everything the audience requested. Then he quit for 15 years. He recently returned to pound the bass pedal behind all kind of musicians and to write this memoir, which has an off-kilter kind of charm. The chronology occasionally falters, the prose veers alarmingly from lyrical to workmanlike and Lankford, when he isn't being droll, isn't shy about touching on drug use or terminal boredom. At the end of the book, he deals in a frustratingly truncated manner with his decade and a half of exile--graduate school in Iowa plus years spent ""making friends"" with Shakespeare, Faulkner et al.--and his sudden return to drumming. Before that Lankford is far more expansive. There are choice moments of panic, fear, elation and abject terror. There are a few stabs at romance along the way, and one memorable night when his crash cymbal took on a life of its own as a burst of gunfire prematurely ended one set. (Feb.)