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4.0 out of 5 stars Susannah, born at the wrong time, 4 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Haunted Heart: A Biography of Susannah McCorkle (Paperback)
The book concentrates on the personality this great but distsressed singer. The author's diagnosis of Bi-polar disease, which ultimately resulted in Susannah's own defenestration from her 16th floor apartment in New York, seems accurate. Very thoroughly researched (not all the facts are quite right, an odd wrong spelling for a name etc. but the mistakes are trivial) using Sussanah's writings and interviews with her closest companions, gives a thorough but not happy view of her life.
She was a jazz singer who concentrated mostly on the great American composers and some Brazilian touches. Her style was to caress the lyrics with clear diction and tremendous lyrical interpretation. More Peggy Lee than Sarah Vaughan, more Billie than Bessie.
By the time she had come to singing, Rock and Roll had taken the audiences and the money. So she did not benefit from the great arrangers that supported Sinatra, Ella, and their contemporaries, but was she was too early for the American Songbook revival and the intimate sounds succesful today of Norah Jones and her like. With small jazz groups she found sympathetic accompaniments and often brought lesser songs from the great American songwriters back into focus. She also translated some lyrics herself especially from Portuguese
The book covers thoroughly Susannah McCorkle's short story writings, language abilty (she nearly became a four language translator for the EU), personal life, difficult mental issues and singing. It is a readable and engrossing biography of this talented but tragic singer. It does not indulge in 'what ifs'. For instance 'Could she have had a better career/life if she have had proper business management rather than a string of musicians/lovers/married partners she was emotionly close to but then parted from?'
The one area I found disappointing was the coverage of her singing. It was treated extensively but mostly from the viewpoint of the people that she had emotional entanglements with or musicians or promotors she had irritated in her quest for the perfect treatment of a song. A retrospective independent view of her records would have been enlightening and have been a good illumination of her talent and a vauble addition to the book. I guess the author, who was not a personal friend but seemed very emotionally synpathetic, would have had to call upon a third party to do this and finance and book authorship may then have been an issue.
If you are taken by Susannah's talent or just like gentle jazz singing of the Great American Songbook with superb lyrical expression, the book is a good read. It also shows that it is not just rock stars and painters who are doomed by their desire to express themselves in a way perfect to themselves.
Buy the records too they really are some of the best of this singing style.
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Haunted Heart: A Biography of Susannah McCorkle
Haunted Heart: A Biography of Susannah McCorkle by Linda Dahl (Paperback - 15 Feb. 2008)
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