Being a public school teacher myself, I probably enjoyed this book more than many people may. I only wish I had the resources that Mr. Danza could call on. It would be heavenly to be able to conceive an idea and actually be able to pull it off financially. But even though he had those resources, he was still a first year teacher, facing the challenges that we all face, dealing with the discipline problems we all deal with, wondering how on earth he could impact a kid's life for the better, as we all do, grading papers nights and weekends, taking them with us to family gatherings, parties, or even the movies. But with it all, it is still the most rewarding of professions. Having a student come back and tell you, "You were my favorite teacher" makes it all worth it. I think this is something that Tony Danza learned.
Frank Muller was one of the most versatile narrators of all time. I am convinced he could read the phone book and make it interesting enough that I would have been compelled to listen. What a shame that his life was cut short, but how grateful we should all be that he left such a legacy of narrated books. RIP, Frank. We miss you.
This book is so entertaining! It is funny and clever and very enlightening. The narrator has just the right style, the right mix of humor and seriousness to make it funny and informative. I enjoyed almost all of it. It is written for non-musicians in an effort to help them understand what music is all about. The author does a great job of hitting so many aspects of music, but for me, a professional musician, it was a little elementary. With that said, I did learn a few things that I can use in my classroom, and that made it all worth it. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the workings and meanings of music.
I must add that I am glad the editors did not have the author read his own book. He interjects on several occasions with musical examples that have been discussed by the narrator. He is very hard to understand. I liked his interjections and loved his use of his guitar playing examples, but the narrator, Walter Dixon, brings the book to life.
This narrator has an amazing understated deadpan humor. There are various other voices that come in to read quotes by people other than Bacharach - and those are fine - but the voice of Bacharach himself (about 95% of the book is in the 1st person) is extraordinarily good.
I listen in the car
The time period covered (40s, 50s, 60s) and types of music (early rock & r&b to the Beatles era) are of course very dated, but Bacharach's best work was of timeless genius in terms of pure melodic and harmonic inspiration and originality. I mean - listen to Walk on By - it's pure, unadulterated genius. The lesser stuff like Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head sounds corny after 5 decades, but there are at least 20 Bacharach songs that will always sound like masterpieces - Beatles-level classics. Bacharach was the bridge from the great Tin Pan Alley composers like Kern, Gershwin, Rodgers, Porter and Arlen, and the post-Beatles composers. I don't think Motown and Beatles could have been what they were without Bacharach to show the way. The 32-bar standard had been exhausted. Rock & Roll was fresh and vital but harmonically limited. Bacharach (at his best) showed how the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley (to say nothing of Debussy) could be freed from ii7 V7 I and used in a rock context. He paved the way for Holland Dozier Holland, Lennon & McCartney et al.The book is satisfying in terms of talking about the musical details - although not as good as, say, the Geoff Emerick Beatles book. If you're a musician you might hope for more of a discussion of the technical elements, but there are still valuable insights in that regard. But what makes this book so special is the humor. I see how the negative reviewer in this thread might (inaccurately) consider him narcissistic in that he recounts all his affairs with beautiful women - he would sound like a name-dropper, except for the fact that he really did move in those circles on a continuous basis - but he's also extraordinary self-effacing in the most humorous and endearing way. I'm about 30% of the way through and I've had at least 25 major laughing attacks. I'm not sure if it's the writing or just the narrator's pitch-perfect delivery but I really love this book.My advice is not to be put off by the opening 15 minutes or so. At first, it sounded like he was 1) full of himself and 2) had a chip on his shoulder, but that impression faded very quickly once he started his story chronologically. And, from an audio point of view, this narrator is as good at his job as Bacharach was at his.