A tender memoir of Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins, his catastrophic conflict and his pure fight for restoration. Written by partner, Grace, Falling and Laughing is a blunt account written with struggle and relentless positivity on every page.
We begin with a short flurry through the couple’s first encounters and the slow build towards a relationship far beyond singer/band manager. Grace details their cosy, busy lives with warmth, but like any good story, the perfection abruptly crumbles when Edwyn, at 45, suffers two devastating heart attacks.
Subsequently, Edwyn lost the use of his right arm and suffered from aphasia- unable to read, write or talk- Grace’s feelings of despair for the man who once flaunted a prolific vocabulary, read Russian literature and a regular guitar player, makes for an agonising read- you’re with them, willing his recovery.
For all the sorrow, Maxwell’s entries are not without humour and Collins’ personality shines through; from smirks he gives the nurses, his refusal to wear tracksuit bottoms out of the ward and the jibes he shares with fellow ‘in-mates’.
Never a smooth path to recovery, Collins fought a bout of MRSA and the national press desperate for negative NHS story with a celebrity element. With teenage son, Will getting into scrapes, and numerous break-ins to come home to, Maxwell reveals an intimate family tragedy with vivid reality.
A story so far removed from the steady success of Orange Juice and Collins’ solo career, this is no music biography. Falling and Laughing is a stark account of a harrowing moment in the Collins family and the fight to restore the talent, creativity and wit of Edwyn aided by his resilient partner.
Falling and Laughing is both heart breaking and heart warming. The title, taken from an early Orange Juice track, is filled with deeper, a new life-affirming meaning.
2013: my year to read as many music books as I can. This book 1.