An illuminating and detailed account for music fans.

MUSIC IN MY LIFE

NOTES FROM A LONGTIME FAN

This memoir focuses on the great age of rock ’n’ roll, right up to the present.

In 1993, Wightman was a very successful corporate lawyer. But early on—Dion was his first hero—he fell in love with rock, a passion that persists today. Sometime after graduating from Ohio State University law school and settling in Columbus, he almost by accident fell into engaging and promoting—he would probably resist the term impresario—rock acts in and around that city. This venture, officially begun in 1995, was Zeppelin Productions, and it continues to this day. When an act was successful, he would ask the “Artistes”—his respectful term—who else they might recommend, and so the list of acts grew and so did the audience, the “tree,” as he calls it. At roughly the same time, he became associated with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, aka “Rock Hall,” eventually heading up the whole enterprise. To call Wightman a mover and shaker is an understatement. He also comes across in this volume as a very likable guy and a world-class schmoozer. For the record, he considers Neil Young his favorite musician of all time, and Young’s Tonight’s the Night his all-time favorite album. And Jimmy Webb is “arguably the finest songwriter to ever grace a Zeppelin stage.” 

The book is a veritable treasure trove of rich details and anecdotes about rock Artistes and their performances over the years with Zeppelin. To say that Wightman knew everybody would also be an understatement. And that is a problem. Unless readers are hardcore aficionados, the names and venues and whatnot begin to blur early on. There are too many names to keep straight, for example. Some, of course, are well known, but others not so much. There are also sobering reminders of how many of those rock stars finally beat their addictions or didn’t (see the “27 Club”). Readers who grew up with this music will find a very strong nostalgic element in these pages (Hot Tuna; Blood, Sweat, & Tears). That rock nostalgia will also bring back memories of many readers’ youths, which is part of the volume’s charm. The inclusion of Gordon Lightfoot (“If You Could Read My Mind”) shows that the line between rock and other genres is fuzzy. But in this memoir, everyone seems to be welcomed: Lightfoot, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, and many others. That said, a strong editor should have reined in Wightman somewhat. The author simply cannot resist telling one more anecdote about one more wonderful concert or describing one more venue or one more road trip, including hotel and roadie tidbits. But readers will find it hard to resist Wightman’s enthusiasm; they will end up admiring this impressive volume from a venerable fan. A generous selection of historical photographs is included.

An illuminating and detailed account for music fans.

Pub Date: March 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-95-156812-2

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Small Batch Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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