Who knew that Paul McCartney originally referred to Yesterday as 'Scrambled Eggs' because he couldn't think of any lyrics for his heart-breaking tune? Or that Patti LaBelle didn't know what 'Voulez-vous couches avec moi ce soir?' actually meant?These and countless other fascinating back stories of some of our best-known and best-loved songs fill this book, a collection of the highly successful weekly The Life of a Song columns that appear in the FT Weekend every Saturday.Each 600-word piece gives a mini-biography of a single song, from its earliest form (often a spiritual, or a jazz number), through the various covers and changes, often morphing from one genre to another, always focusing on the 'biography' of the song itself while including the many famous artists who have performed or recorded it.The selection covers a wide spectrum of the songs we all know and love - rock, pop, folk, jazz and more. Each piece is pithy, sparkily written, knowledgeable, entertaining, full of anecdotes and surprises. They combine deep musical knowledge with the vivid background of the performers and musicians, and of course the often intriguing social and political background against which the songs were created.
a true hit Oi'll give it five . The title says it all , a couple of pages about a very wide range of stories with sometimes extraordinary tales , replete with recommended surprise versions and warnings about cover versions that are , alas , impossible to "unhear" . Read one entry and you will not stop , promise !
Worth getting if you are 'into' music Some of the "Life of a Song" articles published more recently are better than anything in this book. A friend who is something of a musicologist loved it. Myself less so.
Great gift for a music buff. Bought this for my father in law as he is a music buff. I was half way down the M1 after our visit when he texted me say ‘great choice I’m 1/4 through it already’.
A very good read Excellent book amazing stories regarding each song well worth a visit for anyone interested in popular music
Songbook Not many popular songs, but still informative
Given the price they could have done better! Very interesting book fully of fascinating ancedotes. Just a shame about the quality of the paper it is printed on - feels cheap and nasty. Given the price they could have done better!
Five Stars A highly informative read
Great songs, great stories This is a fascinating book, with often unexpected stories behind the songs, and many of the revelations surprise and delight! The longevity and transformations of early gospel or jazz songs as they weave their way through the years make compelling tales, well researched and written. I loved these stories when they were in the FT Weekend, and it was a great idea to collect them together. One good dinner party game is to compile a list of the songs whose lives you want to read next: we were convinced there were enough for a second volume.
I think this book would work for either fans who know their stuff or a complete musical novice Do you ever wonder when you are enjoying a song what its really about? I know I do, I know too that the copies of music magazines (from the days of NME before it became a free, give away rag) which I treasured and kept were the ones with interviews with bands or musicians which did more the discuss their trials of life but the lyrics in their songs and what they are about. I especially liked to hear if the public had been totally mistaken about songs, such as Sting's "Every Move You Make" (not a love song but a chronicle of a stalker) or Dido's revealing that one of her songs which people had thought was about getting back into the dating game was really about someone fighting addiction and drugs. Which is really what has spurred my interest in this book. The style and pace of narrative is very good, it does not become dull or dip, it would be something I would think is fair to expect from any book which is a sort of anthology that chapters would be uneven and Cheal has ably avoided this. Everyone will have their favourites, I liked reading about "Yesterday" for instance, but if you are anything like me you will find the descriptions and narrative about the other songs, which you may not even know about to be honest, Cheal does a great job in that respect. Reading the book was great as a fan of desert island discs too, it made me think and rethink what books I would take with me to a desert island now that I understood them and could think or feel differently about them, there are also songs which I mean to check out to see if they are actually good tunes besides because its all very well knowing what they mean sometimes it does not make them any the more easy on the ears/pleasant a listening experience. If you are fan of music you may know some of the background to tunes already but I think this book would work for either fans who know their stuff or a complete musical novice. Recommended.
Great book Great book
Rating : 4.2 of 366 Reviewers
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Rating : 4.7 of 337 Reviewers