avoiding road rage one book at a time...
I absolutely loved everything about this book, including Janis's awesome and honest narration. She uses her stunning voice to sing the listener in to each new life chapter. Her words paint pictures, her voice sounds heavenly. GREAT story of a hard-working optimist.
Being a few years older than the cast, I was never a fan of 90210, which appealed to a younger sect. Nor do I consider myself a fan of Jennie Garth, having never followed her career. I am however, a voracious reader (listener) of autobiographies and found myself without something to listen to when this book popped into my 'we thought you'd like’ list. Really? Aren’t I out of her demographic? Even the title of the book made me wince a little. I grappled with myself, considering the purchase and listened to the free preview provided. She sounded really interesting and she did have a story to tell… desperation for material won and with a guilty conscious I clicked ‘purchase’.
Guess what? I AM a fan of Jennie Garth; the person. This book is great and skillfully read by the author. She is candid, funny, a great story teller (or received excellent advice/assistance on how to tell her story) and extremely likable.
This book tells of Jennie’s life, from start to present: her idyllic childhood as the youngest member of an alternate version of the Brady Bunch, her painful adolescent years, her accidental career path, her relationships and how she dealt with all that she encountered, with grace and humility. What is revealed is a fiercely-loyal, hard-working, genuine, real person. I’m here to tell you not to consider this book a guilty pleasure, it is worth every penny.
I enjoyed this book so much, I listened to it twice. I've never done that before. Scott Shepherd sounds just like Sammy - INCREDIBLE narration. What a life, Sammy! He is the living representation of what a can-do attitude can accomplish.
I took a long time listening to this because I didn't want it to end. I also wanted to listen to the music chronologically as Jonathan Gould worked his way through each album and single; so I kept taking breaks from the audiobook to catch up on the songs.
The Beatles are THE band for me and always have been, since my brother and I took the bus into Richmond in 1964 to see the first run of "Hard Day's Night." I won't go so far as to say this is THE book about the group, but it's a fine one, and is well narrated by Richard Aspel. To the standard question, would you read / listen to another book by this writer / narrator - yes, definitely, on both counts.
It's not the most gossipy book about the Beatles. Gould doesn't have any ground-breaking new research or exclusive interviews to offer. What he has, in abundance, are two things: a rich sense of the political and cultural context in which the Beatles' career took place; and a detailed analysis, musical and lyrical, of every released single and every track on every album. His discussions of the songs are what impelled me to go back and listen to them yet again, this time with a handful of specific things to listen for in each one. (I didn't always understand the terminology Gould uses: at one point, he refers to "the elemental subdominant cadent in A-major" - at least I think that's what he said - but his descriptions are more often concrete and illuminating than over-my-head baffling.)
Gould sets the Beatles firmly against the backdrop of Elvis, Les Paul, Brian Wilson, the Stones, Dylan, and the Goon Show on the one hand; and Vietnam, assassinations, student rebellions, the Prague Spring, the Chicago riots, the Profumo affair, and the political rivalry of Edward Heath and Harold Wilson on the other. If you didn't live through those times, the book will give you a better sense of the wider world than any other Beatles book I know. If you did live through those times, it will remind you of how glorious (and sometimes gloriously awful) they were. Woodstock makes an appearance, even though the Beatles didn't show up there: they were putting the finishing touches on the "Abbey Road" album. But Woodstock was an important part of the cultural background; it's impossible to understand the Beatles' place in popular culture without taking it into account.
I haven't listened to all the Beatles-related audiobooks on Audible. Of the ones I have listened to, the only one in the same league is the book by Bob Spitz - unfortunately only available here in abridged format. (The Hunter Davies account is on my list, but even though it has a 1996 update, it's mainly focused on the period ending in 1968.) Until someone offers Spitz unabridged, or Philip Norman's Shout!, or Hunter Davies writes a fuller account of the later years, this is the audiobook I would recommend to anyone wanting an introduction to the history of the band. Gould presents the story with admirable objectivity; it's obvious that the band, and the band's music, fascinate him; but he's willing to call baloney when he sees it, and some of the Beatles tracks, especially as he moves into the troubled territory of The White Album and the Let It Be sessions, come in for particularly harsh criticism. ("Shapeless" and "gormless" are two of the adjectives employed in Gould's discussion of one of the tracks on the White Album. "A parody of a travesty" is his verdict on another.)
The only thing that could make the audiobook better, in my opinion, would be an edition that integrates the songs themselves into the narrative. But you can always do that on your own, like I did.