Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop

Category: Book
By (author): Myers, Marc
Subject:  MUSIC / General
  MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Pop Vocal
  MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock
  MUSIC / History & Criticism
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Published: December 2017
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 336
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in
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$ 26.95
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*Writer and music historian Marc Myers brings to life five decades of music inAnatomy of a Song, based on the popular ongoingWall Street Journal column, through oral histories of forty-five transformative songs woven from interviews with the artists who created them. Taking readers inside the making of a hit,Anatomy of a Song includes Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love," Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Joni Mitchell remembers living in a cave on Crete with the "mean old daddy" who inspired her 1971 hit "Carey," while Elvis Costello talks about writing "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" on a train to Liverpool. Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Smokey Robinson, Grace Slick, Mavis Staples, Steven Tyler, the Clash, Merle Haggard, Bonnie Raitt, Debbie Harry, and many other leading artists reveal the inspirations, struggles, and techniques behind their influential works. Covering the history of rock, R&B, country, disco, soul, reggae and pop,Anatomy of a Song is a love letter to the songs that have defined several generations of listeners."
Review Quote*Praise forAnatomy of a Song: An Amazon Best Book of the Month in Nonfiction A finalist for The Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence In these pieces . . . songwriters and performers speak in their own voices, edited from interviews with Myers, about one of their signature songs. Because of Myers's skill as an interviewer, their pride and enthusiasm come blasting through. Each story is a pleasure to read and will deepen your listening experience . . . Myers bears down hard on these songs and the artists rise to the standards he sets." - Anthony DeCurtis,New York Times Book Review "A first-rate playlist . . . A rich history of both the music industry and the baby boomer era." - Los Angeles Times Book Review 'Marc Myers'sAnatomy of a Song [is] a winning look at the stories behind 45 pop, punk, folk, soul and country classics . . . A smart, gracious book. His interviews yield some fascinating details.'-Washington Post "Candid conversations with stars like Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards and Rod Stewart are collected in a new book calledAnatomy of a Song . . . In the pre-digital age of analog recording, Myers discovered some remarkable examples of mechanical ingenuity. Two of my favorites: Kinks guitarist Dave Davies had just learned how to shave when he bought a new amp and decided to use a razor blade to slash the amp's speaker cone. And when the Doors were told to shorten the seven-minute version of Light My Fire for a single that would get more radio play, their producer Paul Rothchild 'wrapped Scotch tape around the spindle holding thepickup reel, so the tape would turn a fraction faster' . . . Myers is particularly good on the competition within bands and between them to produce the best possible songs . . . [A] splendid volume." - Charles Kaiser,Guardian (UK) "A music lover's dream book." - Cleveland Plain Dealer "Anatomy of a Song . . . reads like a dream karaoke playlist. Not a dud in sight." - Huffington Post "Anatomy Of A Song . . . gets the lowdown on about forty years of hits straight from the artists' mouths . . . It's always cool to hear how the musical sausage gets made, especially when it's made by geniuses in the field. But Myers also does an outstanding job of unearthing the moments of humor and heartbreak that accompanied the creation of these songs." - American Songwriter "Who would've ever guessed the inspiration behind Gladys Knight's soul-stirring 'Midnight Train to Georgia' was '70s pinup queen Farrah Fawcett? That's just one of the fascinating song histories revealed in the new bookAnatomy of a Song." - New York Post "Myers . . . uncovers the fascinating backstories behind many legendary songs that changed the trajectory of music . . . Culling together anecdotal revelations about happy accidents, deliberately vague lyrical choices and unexpected lapses of confidence, the book manages to both demystify and humanize so many of its iconic subjects. . . . Filled with surprises for music fans and aspiring songwriters alike." - BMI Music 'Who doesn't like to listen to musicians tell their stories about the genesis of a song? Or to hear them laugh at the deep meaning that listeners often invest in it when for them it was, well, just a song about a breakup? Myers' book has something for everyone.'-No Depression "The short, sharp chapters breeze by like a particularly well-curated jukebox . . . Fast, fun and informative." - Houston Press "The critical ability of Marc Myers shows in his selection of topics and his persistence in hunting down the right people to talk about their songs. But his talent as a writer shows in his willingness to get out of the way and let them talk about their songs . . . Myers pushes his subjects to recollect what had really happened that day in the studio, that moment when the song first came to mind, that instant when the radio began to play it." - Washington Free Beacon "Countless fun facts dotAnatomy of a Song." - Billboard "Myers' book succeeds as a collection because he reveals the paradox of popular music: the magical change that transpires once the personal becomes public . . . Perhaps the greatest gift ofAnatomy of a Song is its range . . . This is a book that encourages you to go back into your record collection, to the hits you think you remember well." - Las Vegas Weekly "Myers' . . . work is archival. It is important. It is illuminating." - Under the Radar 'A detailed look at 45 iconic popular songs . . . This will entice general readers and music lovers alike. In his introduction, Myers calls the book an 'oral history jukebox,' and popular-music fans everywhere will want to be ready with a pocketful of dimes.'-Booklist "A compelling compendium of behind-the-scenes shop talk that will excite even the most casual music geek." - Bookreporter 'A cultural history of the elusive hit single, focused on artists' recollections and studio alchemy . . . The book's strength lies in thoughtful, wry reflections from artists including Elvis Costello, Jimmy Cliff, Stevie Wonder, Booker T. Jones, Dr. John, and Debbie Harry. An entertaining record of the soundtrack of the baby boomer era.'-Kirkus Reviews 'Music fans will enjoy the behind-the-songs stories.'-Publishers Weekly "
Biographical NoteMarc Myers is a regular contributor toThe Wall Street Journal, where he writes about rock, soul, and jazz, as well as the arts. He is the author of the critically acclaimed bookWhy Jazz Happened and posts daily at, a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's award for Blog of the Year.