Amiable memoir by the shorter, quieter partner in the renowned duo Hall & Oates.
In partnership with Daryl Hall, Oates has racked up some impressive chart stats indeed. As he opens his look backward, he rehearses some of them: countless live performances, seven platinum albums, more than 40 million albums sold, and “fame, fortune, freedom.” Though Hall & Oates are remembered as a creature of the mid-1980s, Oates points out that his friendship and collaboration with Hall dates back a decade and a half earlier, in the second generation of rockers, informed by the likes of Bill Haley, Elvis, and the soul sounds of the Philadelphia streets. Oates has reason to boast, but his prose is workmanlike and modest; more than anything else, he comes off as a fan of many artists of the day, from the Beatles to the Temptations and the earliest manifestations of Elton John and David Bowie. There’s some Zelig-like right-place, right-time things happening here, too, such as a residence at LA’s famed Tropicana Motel: as he writes, nicely, “can’t say I wasn’t blown away by the fabulousity of it all because I was.” Oates works quickly over his earliest years, marked by a stint as a high school wrestler and time in journalism school, before settling into the journeyman stuff, where knowing fans will find a wealth of notes on how the hits came into being, from the early “Abandoned Luncheonette” to the later, more polished, but far less engaged “Ooh Yeah!” (“my head and my heart were not into it”). There’s some sex and drugs along with the rock ’n’ roll, but Oates emerges, like Hall, as a pretty sensible guy who recognized when he was going off the rails; in the end, he emerges as a seeker not of pleasure but of wisdom, even as the duo acquires new street cred in the place of being a “Reagan-era punchline.”
Oates’ musical admirers will find much to like here.