The Ballad of Speedball Baby : A Memoir

Ali Smith

Ali Smith (Narrator)

01-16-24

6hrs 32min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

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Play Audio Sample

01-16-24

6hrs 32min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

Description

“Ali Smith’s The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a sometimes-harrowing ride poetically described in neon prose. Ali takes me to places I’ve been myself as a fellow ‘woman of the road’ and rocked and rolled. She brings it all back home so vividly with humor, originality, and love—and ‘oh-yeah-that-happened-to-me-too’ truthfulness. Like the touring band’s rite of passage: crashing in a stranger’s house in Where-am-I? USA and barely escaping with your life and bass guitar…or bartending in an East Village dive bar. It’s a special experience being a Woman in Rock, and as Ali’s story unfolds, she’ll bring you along for the trip of your life.”  Kate Pierson, the B-52’s

A Stylist Magazine (UK) Pick of Best New Nonfiction
A Kobo Pick of Best Book of the Month in Biographies & Memoirs

The Ballad of Speedball Baby is the thrilling, darkly hilarious, and heart-wrenchingly vulnerable story of Ali Smith’s coming-of-age in ’90s New York as she commits to the messy, exhilarating life of a musician and must survive the slings and arrows society reserves for women who refuse to comply.

As an only child reeling from the demolition of her parents’ toxic marriage, the New York City underground music scene offers a young Ali a different family of misfits and talented outsiders to belong to.

She becomes the bass player for edgy band Speedball Baby, a decision that will take her around the world—from onstage at the legendary CBGBs to the red-light district of Amsterdam. She’s often the only girl in a broken-down tour van, being strip-searched at the Croatian border, chased by lunatics, and navigating the seedy underbelly of a male-dominated music scene full of addiction, violence, and misogyny—all while keeping her sharp wit and dark humor intact.

Rimmed with heavy black eyeliner and smelling faintly of cheap booze, The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a pulse-quickening, unpredictable ride through the ’90s music scene—alternately terrifying, hilarious, and painfully evocative—as well as a love letter to the power of female solidarity.

Praise

“Ali Smith’s The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a sometimes-harrowing ride poetically described in neon prose. Ali takes me to places I’ve been myself as a fellow ‘woman of the road’ and rocked and rolled. She brings it all back home so vividly with humor, originality, and love—and ‘oh-yeah-that-happened-to-me-too’ truthfulness. Like the touring band’s rite of passage: crashing in a stranger’s house in Where-am-I? USA and barely escaping with your life and bass guitar…or bartending in an East Village dive bar. It’s a special experience being a Woman in Rock, and as Ali’s story unfolds, she’ll bring you along for the trip of your life.”  Kate Pierson, the B-52’s

“I loved reading this book about a punk world I didn’t get to experience in New York City. I don’t think I could have survived this dark, crazy, happy place. I’m not as tough as Ali Smith.” Exene Cervenka, X

“Beautifully written tales of grim outsider rock ’n’ roll, the ups and downs, and the subterranean…Ali Smith writes of a completely different New York City, a dirtier time I just missed, and the fragile band bond very few have gotten right.” Nick Zinner, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“Ali Smith is one of my all-time favorite crackpots—like Zelda Fitzgerald!” Karen “Duff” Duffy, MTV VJ and author of Wise Up

“By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, The Ballad of Speedball Baby isn’t just a vivid account of mid-’90s Lower East Side bohemia and an unsparing portrait of what it’s really like to be in a band. It’s also a ripping read.” Michael Azerrad, author of The Amplified Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana

“A winning and moody memoir…Smith vividly captures the era’s grit and glamour without glossing over its uglier attributes, including sexism, physical assault, and skinheads. Aspiring musicians and punk fans will eat this up.” Publishers Weekly

“To me personally, no band has personified the sound of New York better than Speedball Baby since Lou Reed or Suicide.”  Larry Hardy, founder of In the Red Records

“Ali Smith writes artfully, with harrowingly honest vision. An unflinching look at being a female punk rock musician searching for a place to belong in a scummy man’s rock world. A wild ride. I could not stop reading it.” Kid Congo Powers, guitarist for the Gun Club, the Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and author of Some New Kind of Kick

“Conversational and engaging…An appealing book for punk fans and those interested in 1990s women musicians.” Kirkus Reviews

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Details
More Information
Language English
Release Day Jan 15, 2024
Release Date January 16, 2024
Release Date Machine 1705363200
Imprint Blackstone Publishing
Provider Blackstone Publishing
Categories Arts & Entertainment, Biographies & Memoirs, Women, Art, Music, Entertainment & Celebrities, New Releases
Author Bio
Ali Smith

The vibrant style Ali Smith has brought to her writing and photography—featured regularly in the New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications internationally—was forged in New York’s underground music scene where she played bass in the seminal punk / blues / avant-garde band Speedball Baby. After touring worldwide and recording nine albums, Ali released two books of photography about women’s lives. The first, Laws of the Bandit Queens, led to a feature on OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s television network. The second, Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives, won a Silver IPPY and an International Book Awards prize, was praised by the New York Times, and Gloria Steinem called it “a gift to moms.” With a passion for telling women’s stories, Ali’s memoir, The Ballad of Speedball Baby, is her literary debut. Learn more at AliSmith.com and @mommaloveAli on Instagram.

Narrator Bio
Ali Smith

The vibrant style Ali Smith has brought to her writing and photography—featured regularly in the New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications internationally—was forged in New York’s underground music scene where she played bass in the seminal punk / blues / avant-garde band Speedball Baby. After touring worldwide and recording nine albums, Ali released two books of photography about women’s lives. The first, Laws of the Bandit Queens, led to a feature on OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s television network. The second, Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives, won a Silver IPPY and an International Book Awards prize, was praised by the New York Times, and Gloria Steinem called it “a gift to moms.” With a passion for telling women’s stories, Ali’s memoir, The Ballad of Speedball Baby, is her literary debut. Learn more at AliSmith.com and @mommaloveAli on Instagram.

Overview

A Stylist Magazine (UK) Pick of Best New Nonfiction
A Kobo Pick of Best Book of the Month in Biographies & Memoirs

The Ballad of Speedball Baby is the thrilling, darkly hilarious, and heart-wrenchingly vulnerable story of Ali Smith’s coming-of-age in ’90s New York as she commits to the messy, exhilarating life of a musician and must survive the slings and arrows society reserves for women who refuse to comply.

As an only child reeling from the demolition of her parents’ toxic marriage, the New York City underground music scene offers a young Ali a different family of misfits and talented outsiders to belong to.

She becomes the bass player for edgy band Speedball Baby, a decision that will take her around the world—from onstage at the legendary CBGBs to the red-light district of Amsterdam. She’s often the only girl in a broken-down tour van, being strip-searched at the Croatian border, chased by lunatics, and navigating the seedy underbelly of a male-dominated music scene full of addiction, violence, and misogyny—all while keeping her sharp wit and dark humor intact.

Rimmed with heavy black eyeliner and smelling faintly of cheap booze, The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a pulse-quickening, unpredictable ride through the ’90s music scene—alternately terrifying, hilarious, and painfully evocative—as well as a love letter to the power of female solidarity.