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Anatomy of a Song

The Inside Stories Behind 45 Iconic Hits

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Songs that sell the most copies become hits, but some of those hits transcend commercial value, touching a generation of listeners and altering the direction of music. In Anatomy of a Song, writer and music historian Marc Myers tells the stories behind fifty rock, pop, R&B, country and reggae hits through intimate interviews with the artists who wrote and recorded them.

Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, the Clash, Smokey Robinson, Grace Slick, Roger Waters, Joni Mitchell, Steven Tyler, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello and many other leading artists reveal the inspirations, struggles and techniques behind their influential works.

From Publishers Weekly

08 August 2016 – Four years ago, Myers launched his "Anatomy of a Song" column in the Wall Street Journal, and he offers this mostly interesting but hardly hit-making collection of previously published columns. Like many pop songs, the structure is pretty simple. Myers (Why Jazz Happened) provides a new introduction to the songs, which were written between 1952 and 1991, setting each in its cultural context, as well as indicating its historical significance. For example, according to Myers, in the late 1980s R.E.M. thrived in a growing alternative music scene in which listeners developed deep personal attachments to bands that were singing about issues that concerned them. Following these introductions, Myers then turns the mike over to the artists, writers, musicians, and producers behind each song, who tell us about the stories behind it. Many artists are reflective: Bonnie Raitt says that writing her hit "Nick of Time" gave her a "sense of confidence and self-awareness that helped break through some stifling self-doubt." Some point out that we can invest too much meaning in simple lyrics, as when Mick Jagger reminds us that his song "Moonlight Mile" is "definitely not about cocaine." Some, like the Marvelettes' lead singer, Katherine "Kat" Anderson Schaffner, reveal a song's origins: "Please Mr. Postman" was an unfinished blues song written by William Garrett about a "nice postman in our projects" that the group finished and then recorded. Music fans will enjoy the behind-the-songs stories, but the book would have been even more compelling if Myers had provided a clearer sense of why he selected these songs and not others, and why songwriters such as Bob Dylan are glaringly absent from the collection.
Anatomy of a Song
View in iTunes
  • £5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Music
  • Published: 03 November 2016
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Print Length: 349 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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