30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: Songwriters on Songwriting (Paperback)
Predictably, this book starts with several of the better interviews. Old-timers Pete Seeger, Mose Allison and Willie Dixon, for example, have been around a bit, seen a thing or two, and it shows. The unfortunate effect is to encourage the reader to tackle 'Songwriters on Songwriting' as they would any other book and try to read it through from cover to cover. Bad mistake. I got to the Californian hippy witterings of the late Laura Nyro (who, according to Mr Zollo, didn't die in April 1997 but 'departed from this earth'), before I gave up and started the much more rewarding 'dipping in'. There's more than a little of that peculiarly American schmaltz in these interviews, too, contributed in no small measure by the author himself, and UK purchasers who enjoy an after dinner read are strongly advised to allow a reasonable period to elapse before doing so. There is also a marked absence of other than US writers, except for the few who, by a happy coincidence, were resident in the US at the time of interview. There are many regrettable omissions; Tom Waits, Scott Walker, Elvis Costello and the incomparable Joni Mitchell spring to mind, all of whom could have brought some much needed additional intelligence to this collection and perhaps given Mr Zollo a definitive answer to his almost constant pursuit of the 'divine' source of the popular song. Nevertheless, this 640 page tome is well worth the asking price for those who want some background on their CD collection and songwriters will take comfort in learning that even some of the great names struggle sometimes and, on the evidence of this book, talk a load of b******s, too. Three stars, then, for the good bits (look out for Zappa and Cohen for instance) and one extra for being, as far as I know, unique, no matter how flawed. Ian Nicol, UK.