I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, HighBridge Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What’s a song that changed your life? One that moved you, inspired you, broke down a wall within you and helped you grow? What song can bring back a memory as sharp as a snapshot, bringing you back to a time and place and smell and one prismatic moment any time you hear the first notes playing through a speaker? I don’t think any other art form on the planet can so deeply evoke sense memories and wildly variant emotions that music. While I love books with every fiber of my being, it’s music that has the most power to move me. And I think this is true for far more people than realize it. Music is the language of the soul, and it’s fascinating to see what speaks to the hearts of different people. Especially those who move others with their own music.
It was interesting to hear how wildly different these artists approached discussing the music that shaped them. Some took a cerebral approach, others verged on spiritual, and some were just brimming with so much enthusiasm and joy that you couldn’t help but smile with them. Some of these artists, both those being interviewed and those whose records were the albums that changed the interviewed artists’ lives, I had at least a passing familiarity with. Some I had never heard of. But my knowledge of these artists and that art that moved them didn’t really matter in the slightest. Hearing any person, even a total stranger, talk about the music that matters to them, even if I’ve never heard of it, always feels valuable to me. The music that is important to us and the reasons it matters can be deeply personal, and I think any sharing of that is something special.
You can tell that Spitznagel, the author and interviewer behind this book, is incredibly passionate about music. Rock in particular. There is so much love and care in the way he approaches these interviews. It’s evident that he was truly invested in learning how all of these artists he approached would answer the question of what album changed their life. This book could have somehow ended up becoming about him. That didn’t happen here. He was a facilitator, not the star of the show, and that mentality made all the difference in making this book feel honest and authentic.
While I love the concept of this book, there were some failings in the audiobook format. This is a series of interviews, but both sides of every single interview are narrated by the same person, Michael Bulter Murray. While he did a great job, this could have been so much more had there been clips of the real interviews, or at least one additional narrator. The narrator did the best he could to ensure you could tell who was talking, interviewer or artist, but it would have been much easier to follow with two voices. However, I adjusted to having only one voice covering both ends of these interviews after a while, and I think the audio format was a very fitting way to ingest this book. By the time I reached the end, my complaints felt very minor.
I was intrigued by the title and premise of this book when I stumbled across it on NetGalley, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Honestly, I could have happily read twice as many such interviews without ever feeling bored. I had never heard of Spitznagel, but now I want to dig into his back catalogue. Anyone who loves music this deeply is someone whose work I want in my life.
Expected release: February 23, 2021 (US)
March 11, 2021 (UK)
You can order this book from: Bookshop.org (Support independent bookstores!) | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Libro.fm (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)