Rock's Backpages Ep. 106: Jennifer Otter Bickerdike on Nico + Jackson Browne + Britney Spears


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In this week's podcast, Mark and Jasper are joined by the excellent Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike to talk about her new Nico book, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico. Jennifer shares the story of where the idea for the book came from and contemplates comparisons of Nico with Marianne Faithfull. The three of them also consider her remarkable music from Chelsea Girl to Camera Obscura and her time in the Velvet Underground that led to long-lasting collaboration with John Cale.

They then listen to two excerpts from the week's audio interview with Jackson Browne, in which he reminisces about cheap rents in Los Angeles and learning the piano, plus why he often doesn't write political songs. Following the sad news of rapper Biz Markie's death, the trio pay tribute to his infectious humour and joyful singing.

Talk then turns to what's new in the library, with Mark highlighting pieces about Bob Dylan, Debbie Harry and M People's Mercury Prize success among others and Jasper selecting David Kamp's oral history of the Brill Building and an early Britney Spears review, which sparks discussion of Jennifer's upcoming book Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon and the horrors of Britney's guardianship.

Many thanks to special guest Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico is published by Faber and available now. Visit Jennifer's website at

Pieces discussed: Nico by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, Nico by Peter Jones, Nico by Clinton Walker, Nico by Geoffrey Cannon, Jackson Browne audio, Cold Chillin' Records/Biz Markie, Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, John Lennon, Sex Pistols, Radiohead, Young Bob Dylan, The Tremeloes, Blondie, M People, Lyrics not poetry, Britney Spears, The Brill Building, Grime, Lavine Hudson and Women music journalists in America 1920–1960.

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