At a time when many rock stars are releasing memoirs, Jorma Kaukonen's “Been So Long: My Life and Music” stands apart, most notably because it doesn’t read like it was handed down on high by some inaccessible rock god. “Jorma comes across as a real guy...very unusual for a book...they are seldom this honest or this good,” Jorma’s friend and contemporary David Crosby said of “Been So Long.”
Of course, “Been So Long” contains wild stories from Jorma’s time as lead guitarist with psychedelic rock pioneers Jefferson Airplane as well as tales of the seminal blues band Hot Tuna, the group Kaukonen founded along with lifelong friend and bandmate Jack Casady. There are also anecdotes about jamming and making music with some of the 1960’s most iconic figures including Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan.
But what many readers will find most interesting--and perhaps surprising--are Kaukonen’s candid stories and intimate journal entries about his Finnish and Russian-Jewish immigrant heritage as well as his early days living in Pakistan and the Philippines as the son of an American diplomat. Also intriguing is Jorma’s lifelong love affair with the rambling road and anything that has an engine, whether it be the Triumph motorcycle he had as a teenager or a college friend’s “1958 Chevy Impala convertible with three deuces and a pair of glasspacks.”
Ultimately, however, “Been So Long” is an intimate telling of Jorma’s other lifelong love affair with music. Jorma’s journey comes full circle from his early days learning American roots music on his trusty Gibson J-45 in the late 1950s to establishing the Fur Peace Ranch in the early 1990s, an educational bastion for American roots music.
Overall, “Been So Long” is an incredibly insightful look inside the life of a musician who was not only influenced by some of America’s greatest music but who also left an indelible mark on that very same musical landscape. In her foreword to the book, Jorma’s Jefferson Airplane bandmate Grace Slick rightly calls the memoir “A modern parable,” and Jack Casady succinctly sums up the alluring essence of Kaukonen’s tale in his afterword:
“I have always been drawn to Jorma’s ability to tell a story,” Casady writes. Any reader who picks up “Been So Long” will feel the same way.
You can order a copy “Been So Long” via Jorma Kaukonen’s official website. Jorma and Jack are currently on tour with Hot Tuna to celebrate the release of “Been So Long.” Click here to browse AXS for tickets to select Hot Tuna dates.