31 Songs Paperback – 27 Jan 2011
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There is nothing quite so incomprehensible as love: 31 Songs is Nick Hornby's account of a selection of the music that lives deep in his heart and it is beside the point that most of us would make radically different selections. He makes some useful distinctions--these are not songs he loves for their associations so much as particular songs through which he learned more about his capacity for loving songs in general. Along the way, he talks movingly and intelligently about other matters on which those songs impinge--his relationship with his autistic son, his limited but real capacity for spirituality--but the songs rather than Hornby and his life are his real subject. It would be almost impossible to read this book and not get caught up in at least some of Hornby's enthusiasms--where you read thrillers trying not to cheat by looking at the end, here you spend time hoping the discography will be as good as the rest of it, and of course it is. The book is a serious attempt to define what it is about rock and pop that speaks to us in ways other types of music might not; those who either do not share Hornby's tastes or who have more eclectic ones will find it a useful and enlightening explication of what rock and pop do. --Roz Kaveney -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
"A collection of music-as-metaphor essays...like a diary in mix-tape form."
"That whole subculture, all those mournful guys to whom the sound of record-store bin dividers clicking by is almost music enough, should love Songbook, yet so should anyone interested in great essays, or in the delicate art of being funny, or in how to write about one's feelings in such a way that other people will actually care." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Delivered in a hugely enjoyable, invisible prose that does in words what Hornby s tunesmiths do with sound. He writes good." Time Out London
"Quintessentially Hornby: an idiosyncratic and charming exploration of the meaning of music and how it changes as we grow up and grow old." SeattleWeekly.com
"A book about the joy of listening to great pop songs, about the elusive genius of a catchy chorus...what shines most is Hornby himself his wry self-awareness, his disarming honesty. Effortlessly readable, every chapter reminds us how special an observer of human behavior Hornby is" Heat
A small, singular, delightful collection [about] the power of songs to bind people culturally and to reach deeply into the human spirit, bending the heart into new shapes with new potential. The New York Times Book Review
"When Hornby writes about his enthusiasms and how they intertwine with his life, he's amusing and inspiring." Rolling Stone" -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels. See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The chapters are song titles, but Hornby’s book is less like 31 song reviews, and more like a collection of essays about what music means and has meant to him, and how he has evolved musically. This is a passionate man who makes a lot of sense. As well as exploring a big bag of beautiful, personal, classic tunes that have shaped his musical development & generally made life more enjoyable, he talks about the value of a good pop song, puts musical intellectuals in their place, and admits to all kinds of uncool favourites. Cant really say more except, read it. If you're a happy music addict, you look back fondly at all the stuff you used to like, the stuff you didn’t used to like but now do, and now look forward to all the great stuff you’ve yet to hear and love - this book is for you. Thank you NH.
So began the illustrious gathering of 31 songs – most of them loved, some of them once loved and all of them significant to Nick Hornby. They begin with Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Your Love Is In The Place Where I Come From’, ending with Patti Smith’s ‘Pissing In A River’, and encompassing singers as varied as Van Morrison and Nelly Furtado, songs as different as ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’ (reggae style). He discusses, among other things, guitar solos and singers whose teeth whistle, and the sort of music you hear in ‘The Body Shop’.
The mind of a musician is a difficult one to fathom, that of a music fan is even more so. Hornby lists his favourite songs and albums, by way of anecdotal explanation, and describes just what it is about music that stirs the blood in his trademark succinct and sparse fashion. He reveals intimate details about his family with touching references to his autistic son and his hope and fears for his future.
We might not agree with Hornby’s eclectic song choices, but will be more likely to side with his topography of the musical mind. He is unashamed in his adulation of songwriters, and admits that he writes books because he cannot write music: “Maybe it’s only songwriters who have ever had any inkling of what Jesus felt like on a bad day”. Hornby loves the relationship that anyone has with music: “because there’s something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out”. This is as good an attempt as you’re likely to get. It is at best interesting and informative, as well as entertaining, and will have you humming by the final page. I have to admit I knew only of half the musical material written about. Maybe, and if it ever goes into reprint, a complimentary CD will be supplied. Apparently, some National Sunday newspapers are doing this already…
It's not really a music book, as such - although he says a fair bit about the artists and the songs, what Hornby's really exploring in this book is how particular songs have influenced, evoked and helped him remember particular parts of his life - it's about the assocations music makes with his memories and emotions, and as such is actually more of an autobiography.
The style is light and readable, as you'd expect from Hornby, and the choice of tracks just surprising enough to keep you reading.
There are few shocking insights here, quite a few laughs and a few poignant moments, and a good slice of pop-cultural memories. It's fun, nostalgic, entertaining, and you'll have lots of fun arguing over which tracks you would've put into your own version!
Solid entertainment from a writer who understands just how music can take you back to a particular time, place and mood.
When I used to read the NME in the eighties, I always enjoyed when the reviewer would stop talking about the band or singer and talk about the emotion and feeling that their music stirred up. 31 songs does this beautifully. I started by reading the artists I liked first, thinking I'll save The J. Geills Band for another time (all I knew by them was 'Centrefold'). After a few of the songs though, you dont really care what music it is to a certain degree, he writes so well.
I was becoming too busy to listen to the music I loved, but after reading this I'm going to find a bit more time. It is as engaging as his novels, I found it quite inspiring in parts, 31 musical 'thought for the days' that can be as meaningful or as meaningless as you like, but always passionate and entertaining.
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