Sunday 30 October 2016

Book ~ "Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop" (2016) Marc Myers

From Goodreads ~ Every great song has a fascinating backstory. In "Anatomy of a Song", based on the ongoing Wall Street Journal column, writer and music historian Marc Myers brings to life five decades of music through oral histories of forty-five transformative songs woven from interviews with the artists who created them. 

 Bringing readers inside the making of a hit, "Anatomy of a Song" includes the Isley Brothers' memorable song "Shout," Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," and R.E.M's "Losing My Religion." 

After receiving his discharge from the army in 1968, John Fogerty does a handstand and reworks Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to come up with "Proud Mary." Joni Mitchell remembers living in a cave on Crete with the "mean old daddy" who inspired her 1971 hit "Carey." Elvis Costello talks about writing "(The Angels Wanna War My) Red Shoes" in ten minutes on the train to Liverpool. And Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, the Clash, Jimmy Cliff, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper, and many other leading artists reveal the emotions, inspirations, and techniques behind their influential works. "Anatomy of a Song" is a love letter to the songs that have defined generations of listeners. 

This is an interesting book if you are a music lover.  The author has a column in the Wall Street Journal and this is a collection of some of the interviews he has done.  The 45 songs are a subjective collection of music milestones the author believes provides us with a greater understanding of the songs, the artists and the music's history.  They are stand-ins for the music's major turning points.

Each song has an introduction to explain its historical significance.  The interviews are with the singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, etc.  The songs are in chronological order starting with Lloyd Price's Lawdy Miss Clawdy from 1952 and ending with R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion in 1991.  The author stopped at 1991 because he feels a song isn't iconic until it has stood the test of time of a generation, which is 25 years.

It was interesting to get the background on how and why the song was written and what was going on at that time in the world and also in the lives of those involved.

Did you know that Midnight Train to Georgia was originally based on Farah Fawcett telling the song's composer that she was catching a midnight flight to Houston?  Read this book and you'll learn lots more!

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