A wonderful read, written with vivid detail, straight from the heart. She has had an extraordinary life being born in London at the end of the 2nd. World War and going on, despite all the odds stacked against her, to become a professional singer working across the globe. Her writing engrosses you and is enlightening about the struggles of a girl growing up in post war Britain going on to become a renowned singer and, just as importantly for her, a mother. You feel almost a part of her personal struggles and joys - the different voices showing her insight, tenacity and humanity. She weaves a wonderful tale, and the book shows her talent as both a writer as well as a singer. An amazing journey!
Anyone who’s ever witnessed Carol Grimes in concert will testify to the fact she possesses a raw emotional power, tempered with the shading of experience and the passing of time. Those lucky enough to have heard her simple yet devastating renditions of Fran Landesman’s “Scars”, or Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy” resonating in packed rooms, or jazz stages, will want to read her back story, to find out more.
And now, not before time, Grimes has finally produced her autobiography. Titled “The Singer’s Tale” (after Chaucer) it is a wild, candid, sometimes unsparing journey. At times wise-after-the-event and other times laugh-out-loud funny (the Kafkaesque trials of reclaiming a pension once you’ve had several surnames) ~ Carol Grimes is a vivid character one instinctively warms to in the intimacy of these pages. A childhood adrift amongst ration books and bomb-damaged London ~ a quest for identity when significant family members are but faint sketches, old sepia photographs ~ eventually finding her voice and her way.
The early albums, musical travels to Memphis and Nashville ~ the firm belief that singing for her supper was the only way forward ~ even with its accompanying pitfalls, safety nets and occasional tragedies. The competing voices in her head, all given free rein here ~ constructing a complex persona ~ sometimes vulnerable, sometimes wayward; always human. I warmly recommend “The Singer’s Tale” if you want to eavesdrop on the REAL story of women making music in the sixties and seventies ~ the deals, the dodgy managers (“We can market you as a British Janis Joplin…”) ~ the highs, the lows, the hangers-on, the true friends ~ above all the music, the vital spark of humanity. Buy this book.
What an incredible book! So cleverly and vividly written, not only about Carol Grimes’ life & career, but also the story of London from the war years in the 40’s through to the hippy & punk years to the 80’s. Could not put this book down. Absolutely fascinating.
Carol Grimes transfers the reader into a time capsule of post WW2 England. She is stranded in the reality of broken and shattered London, where to say the least, life is challenging. The Singers Tale takes the reader from a time of greyness to a time of great colour , the 1960s' and beyond. It was during this period of great hedonistic behaviour she came across and played with many of the iconic musicians and their managers who we know so well. A gripping read about who she met and how she struggled with life as a single mum. Chaucer would have been proud and hopefully there is a part 2 coming ?
I am a lifelong fan of Carol Grimes' music so I couldn't wait to read her story, and what a story it is. It reads like a fast paced novel that could have been written by someone like Kate Atkinson but is all the more poignant for being entirely true. She writes brilliantly, straight from the heart, with a raw, warts and all honesty tinged with irrepressible humour. The book hauntingly evokes past London, especially the Ladbroke Grove area of the 1960s and 70s, a crucial moment in Britain's social and cultural history. As warm-blooded as her singing. I can't wait for the next instalment!
I wanted to read this because I knew a bit about Carols life and work and had lived in London when we were all fighting the far right. I have to say that I was completely unprepared for how beautiful the writing is - so poetic and richly descriptive. In places it was reminiscent of Pynchon. The style is unconventional and jumps about a bit but this adds to the feeling that it’s absolutely real. This is much more than a memoir, it’s an immersion into the mind and world of a resourceful and courageous woman. I found it utterly compelling.