The driven life of an award-winning, hit-producing singer/songwriter.
Sager’s star-studded memoir begins with her personal recollections of growing up an indulgent “sneak eater” in the shadow of an anxious, pragmatic mother and a beloved father who died of heart failure just as her first hit song, “A Groovy Kind of Love,” ascended the pop charts in 1965. Music grounded the author from a young age as she found herself writing songs as a teenager in the early 1960s, then abandoning a teaching career to write lyrics full time. Sager’s treasury of chart-topping music includes “That’s What Friends Are For,” the Academy Award–winning “Arthur’s Theme,” and the book’s title, from a Neil Simon–created 1978 Broadway musical based on the author’s enchanted relationship with Marvin Hamlisch. Sager writes forthrightly about the irrationality of fears haunting her throughout her adolescence and into adulthood. Afraid of contracting polio in childhood, she grew into a successful woman battling a crippling fear of flying. These anxieties, she admits, “led me to my long-standing relationship with sleeping pills.” However, these hurdles take a back seat to Sager’s true passion for music, which comes through in enlightening chapters spotlighting her songwriting efforts for artists like Bette Midler and Carly Simon and, in later years, with Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach, whom she married in the 1980s and adored enough to endure a series of body enhancement surgeries “to look like I belonged with [him].” Socially, Sager nurtured a friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and, for better or worse, wrote career-reviving music for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. While sensitively chronicling her numerous ups and downs, the author is generous in her sharing of the anecdotes behind the music. The narrative is breezy and accessible, with writing that plays to the strengths of her crisp sense of humor, deep attachment to music, and resonant lust for life.
An undemanding yet deeply felt memoir of a life lived through melody, lyrics, and the limelight of hard-won fame.