Monday, October 9, 2023

Book Review: World Within a Song

What makes us fall in love with a song? What makes us want to write our own songs? Do songs help? Do songs help us live better lives? And do the lives we live help us write better songs?

After two New York Times bestsellers that cemented and expanded his legacy as one of America’s best-loved performers and songwriters, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) and How to Write One Song, Jeff Tweedy is back with another disarming, beautiful, and inspirational book about why we listen to music, why we love songs, and how music can connect us to each other and to ourselves. Featuring fifty songs that have both changed Jeff’s life and influenced his music—including songs by the Replacements, Mavis Staples, the Velvet Underground, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding, Dolly Parton, and Billie Eilish—as well as Jeff’s “Rememories,” dream-like short pieces that related key moments from Jeff’s life, this book is a mix of the musical, the emotional, and the inspirational in the best possible way.

World Within a Song will be published on November 7, 2023. Penguin Group has provided an early galley for review.

Looking back, I was on the groundfloor when Tweedy's band Wilco released their first album in the mid-90's. I really enjoyed those early releases. So, given this book's author and subject, I was definitely interested in hearing him tell about some of the many songs that inspire him.

The approach of using songs to reflect on events in one's life is logical; music often triggers memories of where and when you were at a time that song was playing. Some of Tweedy's choices are integral to the moment while others come across as very tangential. With fifty chapters, averaging one to two pages, each is a quick moment in time recollection. Still, each one reveals a bit more about this musician, his life and how he got to where he is today.

Fans of Jeff Tweedy will likely get the most out of this book.

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