A Letter from Author Nile Rodgers: The Reason I Wrote Le Freak
I started writing Le Freak to answer some questions I had about my life. Not the big existential ones, just the facts. I’d asked my mother a question about our early years and her answer would ignite another spark of curiosity rather than provide closure. In no time at all we were off and running like a couple of dog-track greyhounds. The more I wanted to know the more she wanted to tell-- like it was some sort of absolution ritual. Mom didn’t need to apologize for anything--nor did I--we’d already done that countless times throughout the years. When I started interviewing doctors, institutional historians, family members, and friends I noticed there was a real pattern to this process of rediscovery. Everybody wanted to contribute. My inquiries reminded them that we were all a part of an amazing period in American history. My early childhood was fascinating in the fifties; my teens were quasi-suicidal in the sixties; young adulthood was sexy in the seventies, and the edginess of the eighties lasted into the mid-nineties. Then that edgy life caught up with me. I only turned away from it when it finally threatened to take away my world’s most precious gift--music. This isn’t literally a book about music--maybe writing about music really is like dancing about architecture, as the old saying goes. But if music takes the jumble of life--the love and loss, the excitement and pain--and neatly arranges it into notes and chords and verses and choruses that somehow capture it all, then what I’ve done is a little reverse engineering by recovering all the stuff that got packed into those records, a story that trails around the world and back to a newborn leaving his teenaged mother’s arms on Welfare Island in 1952. So in a way this is a book about music because music is about, well, everything, isn’t it?