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  • Published: 15 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9780099554332
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $27.99

The Train in the Night

A Story of Music and Loss

An account of one man’s struggle to recover from the loss of his greatest passion in life - and a hymn to music.

How do you lose music? Then having lost it, what do you do next? Nick Coleman found out the morning he woke up to a world changed forever by Sudden Neursosensory Hearing Loss.

The Train in the Night is an account of one man’s struggle to recover from the loss of his greatest passion in life – and to go one step further than that: to restore his ability not only to hear but to think about and feel music.

Of all our relationships with art, the one we enjoy with music is the most complex, the most mysterious and, for reasons that cannot be explained by science alone, the most emotionally charged. Nothing about that relationship is simple. And yet it is perhaps through music that we make the most intimate contact with our sense of who we really are, at our most naked, unsophisticated, honest, simplified. Through psalms, symphonies, love songs, ballads, boogie…

Where to start, though, for the newly deaf? Well, you can start, suggested a famous neurologist, by trying to remember every beautiful piece of music you’ve ever heard and then by thinking about that music over and over again until it begins to assume a new kind of form in your brain. You never know what might happen after that. And so that’s what the author did. He went back to the origins of his passion – the series of big bangs which kicked off his musical universe – and then worked his way forwards through the back catalogue.

The Train in the Night is a memoir not quite like any other. It is about growing up, obviously. But it is also about becoming young again and trying to see the world for what it is, whether through the eyes of a teenage punk or those of a middle-aged music critic and father of two. It is about taste and love and suffering and delusion. It is about longing to be Keith Richards. It is funny, heartbreaking and, above all, true.

It is a hymn to music.

  • Published: 15 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9780099554332
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Nick Coleman

Following a brief spell as a stringer at NME in the mid-1980s, Nick Coleman was Music Editor of Time Out for seven years, then Arts and Features Editor at the Independent and the Independent on Sunday. He has also written on music for The Times, Guardian,Telegraph, New Statesman, Intelligent Life, GQ and The Wire. He is the author of The Train in the Night, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Wellcome Book Prize.

Also by Nick Coleman

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Praise for The Train in the Night

This is a book for anyone who grew up with pop music, listens to it still and has spent too much time thinking about it and talking about it. But it’s also a book about love and loss and middle age and looming mortality, written with grace and the driest imaginable humour. I’m not sure I can recommend it highly enough


A deft and heartfelt exploration of music, silence, adolescence, English pop and the emotional consequences of serious illness, and above all a discussion of something modern culture has very nearly lost touch with - the idea, and the desirability, of taste.

D. J. Taylor

In a story told with warmth, wit, candour and dry, self-deprecating humour and without a whiff of self-pity... Coleman is insightful and convincing in his musings on music's emotional impact, funny in his recollections of the pains of growing up and sharp in his analysis of the thorny issue of musical 'taste'

Time Out

Coleman is a spirited person, who writes with an irresistible Hornby-esque skip in his style... funny and admirable

Andrew Motion, Guardian

A beautiful, elegiac ballad. Coleman writes elegantly and movingly of his youth, of growing up and of his intimate relationship with an art form that has shaped his memories

Financial Times


Nick Hornby

A rites-of-passage memoir refracted through key sonic experiences...a de profundis roar of anger and bafflement as the randomness of what has befallen Coleman prompts fundamental questions: Who am I? How am I? What the hell happens now?

The Times

A smart, witty and gentle memoir of music and adolescence and beyond

Sunday Herald

Fascinating book... It’s beautifully written, moving and, coming from 1970s, Yes-loving prog-rocker, surprisingly moving.

John Walsh, Independent

Congratulations to Coleman: his private hell is now a tribute to the things he loves the most

Sunday Times

Really a story about listening and love. Brilliant.


If The Train in the Night went no further than the list of life-changing music that drops in at the end, like an index, it would be just another retread of High Fidelity, but Nick Hornby's book is a boy's train-set in comparison to this


An autobiography through sound...a broad meditation on mortality and the resourceful defences of memory


Emotional and resonant… Sharp, funny and sad in equal measure

Sally Morris, Daily Mail

Written with the same passion and wit that punctuated his reviews for the likes of NME, Coleman shares his journey to reconnecting with the soundtrack of his life

Big Issue in the North

I can’t tell you how good it is but I’ll try… It’s a superb analysis

William Leith, Evening Standard

A warm, witty and very candid book

Natasha Harding, Sun

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