Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again
on 19 July 2012
Like many people I first became aware of Anita O'Day from the film Jazz on a Summers Day which I saw sometime in the late 1970s. After exploring some of her recordings from the 1950 and 60s I became a confirmed fan and have remained so ever since. She disliked being called a singer and preferred the title "song stylist" but however she is described Anita O'Day is among the greatest female jazz vocalists of all time and in my view the only white singer worthy to stand alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. Her autobiography is painfully frank, at times harrowing and sometimes laugh out loud funny. It's a real roller-coaster of a book, just like Anita's life, and I could hardly put it down. As well as being Anita's own story, High Times, Hard Times is a fascinating insight into the American jazz scene with dozens of famous musicians from Baby Dodds and Charlie Parker to Judy Garland and Benny Goodman drifting in and out of the picture. Many of them, though not Goodman whom Anita roundly disliked, were afflicted by the same drug addiction which so nearly cost her her life. Anita was mercurial, unpredictable, difficult and for 14 years hopelessly addicted to heroin (she estimates she shot about $400,000 into her arm) but she survived against all the odds, cleaned up and somehow reached the age of 87. This book is a worthy testament to a truly great musician and survivor. Highly recommended.