Reviewed: March 2021
Published: 2010, Indie
2021 is the year where I gave up. I have the lost the war. I had been holding out reviewing only real books, actual printed on real paper books, but the digital wave has all but drowned traditional publishing. In the past If I saw a book was ‘digital-only’ it lacked legitimacy in my eyes and I’d ignore it and wait for a ‘real’ copy to come out. As time goes that is happening less and less, as more books are ‘digital only’ and so my only recourse if I want to read the book badly enough is to read the digital copy. Enter LONELINESS OF A THOUSAND YEARS.
Being a big Stratovarius fan I sort of vaguely aware this ‘digital only’ book existed when it came out, but I thought to myself, I’ll get it one day!” Time passed and I totally forgot about it until recently. Here we are over 10 years later and I’ve finally read and enjoyed Timo Tolkki’s first book.
LONELINESS is a pretty low-budget independent affair with no fills. There is no celebrity endorsements, no big name publisher, no photos, no Table of Contents, Discography, Foreword or Afterword…just the book. It is pretty short too, 129 pages but that is not a criticism. I sat down one afternoon and read it on one shot…on my mobile device. How horrible an experience that was squinting at a tiny screen! Welcome to my first world problems!
In case you are not familiar, Tolkki, the guitarist of Stratovarius for a couple of decades has a very public and much-talked about struggle with mental health issues. In or around 2004, the band fell apart, fighting, alcohol, fatigue, people coming and going and even the announcement of a new singer, Katrina K’ complete with press publicity photos of her smeared with ‘blood’! These were strange and frightening times for fans of Stratovarius but, much less selfishly, strange and frightening times for Timo Tolkki as well. It was no coincidence that in 2004 Tolkki was first diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
LONELINESS OF A THOUSAND YEARS is Tolkki’s cathartic and therapeutic retelling of his mental health journey. This is not truly a full story of Stratovarius, or even his full-fledged autobiography, those are yet to be written. This is a very intimate and personal look into the mind of Tolkki; his decent from a pleasant childhood, tragedy, descent into severe depression, alcoholism, bouts of manic-depressive behaviour, institutionalization, therapy, recovery and now, at the very least, stability and some sense of normalcy.
Tolkki does not spare any detail, he shares vivid memories in graphic details, very graphic, about the tragic events in his young life, that led to his prolonged mental health issues. Tolkki also shares his personal philosophies about life, religion, the state of mankind, the environment, human behavior and more. He is a deep thinker. If you want drunken tales from Stratovarius tours you will not find it in this book.
This is not an easy or, in all honesty, not a very ‘fun’ book to read. It is a deeply personal piece of work, it is almost like reading someones diary. It is very brave of him, especially a public figure of his stature, to bear his soul like that. I hope it helped him in his recovery and it certainly gave me an insight into his suffering. I hope he continues his journey and maybe one day writes a second book, perhaps a more conventional telling of his life and the story of his musical career. I look forward to that day. In the meantime, this book can certainly help people who maybe are suffering with their own issues, to let us know they are not alone and even those people we put on a pedestal (like Tolkki) have very real and very human issues as well. LONELINESS OF A THOUSAND YEARS is probably the most unique and intimate autobiography of a rockstar I have ever read. I’m glad I did.