The Austin Chronicle

Summer Reading

Rock & roll bookends

Reviewed by Margaret Moser, July 15, 2011, Music


Two years ago, Scottish-born singer Susan Boyle wowed Simon Cowell by singing "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent, a genuine diamond in the rough, rising from singing karaoke in her village to "making it" after one YouTube moment. And yet, The Woman I Was Born To Be (Atria, 322 pp., $16, paper) paints Boyle as being as emotionally fragile as her story is ordinary. It doesn't help that she posed like a frumpy toddler for the cover, and if the book is as unremarkable as her life, Boyle probably wouldn't disagree. Rick Beyer's The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 Tales From Music History To Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy (Harper, 214 pp., $19.99) collects 100 footnotes in music history, reaching back to 1400BC. It's packed with charming trivia, much of it hard to ignore: The first music video was in 1892; the first American recording star was black; the oldest recorded human voice is from 1860; the FBI really did investigate the lyrics of "Louie Louie." Gary Golio's When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan (Little, Brown and Company, 36 pp., $17.99) is an illustrated children's book, oversized and hardbound. Golio chose a well-documented subject, but his literary artfulness lies within spare words and Dylan's youthful determination to meet his hero, Woody Guthrie, dying in a hospital bed. Noted Austin artist Marc Burckhardt brings unaffected illustrations in colorful acrylic and oil with a Renaissance-style glaze. This combination of author and painter would make a magnificent series.

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