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.
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 ... Which is saying something. If you’re a serious music fan you might initially wonder what’s left for you to learn about such chestnuts as the Isley Brothers’ 'Shout,' the Allman Brothers’ 'Ramblin’ Man' or Pink Floyd’s 'Another Brick in the Wall.' Turns out to be plenty — not so much in terms of eye-popping new information (though there’s some of that), but in the depth and feeling of the tales of artistic inspiration ... The magic happens when the artists themselves speak, and they deftly — and movingly — cover a range of issues, from the technical to the emotional.
...a treasure trove of music trivia between hard covers ... Myers is particularly good on the competition within bands and between them to produce the best possible songs ... the unlikely cross-pollination at the heart of so many of the classics [is] so rightly celebrated in this splendid volume.
Myers shows us how these songwriters artfully, purposefully and sometimes accidentally tap into our secret yearning with their own. There’s all kinds of fun stuff here ... Perhaps the greatest gift of Anatomy of a Song is its range. Myers considers widely the definitions of rock, R&B and pop, including their influences from a variety of sources. Most tender, perhaps, is his depiction of Joni Mitchell’s inspiration for 'Carey,' and he covers everything from the big sounds of 'Proud Mary' to the TV glitz of Elvis’ 'Suspicious Minds' comeback. This is a book that encourages you to go back into your record collection, to the hits you think you remember well.