Simon’s star-studded debutmemoir doubles as a history of some of the 20th century’s most popular musical acts.
Over the span of his lengthy career as a music producer, the author worked with some legendary artists, including Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, and The Band. In this remembrance, he details his lifelong engagement with music, which follows the trajectory of American popular music as a whole, from jazz to Broadway musicals to rock ’n’ roll. Simon moves quickly through his early musical experiences to his time as an undergraduate at Princeton University, where he wrote for a musical-theater group called the Triangle Club and took classes with composer Milton Babbitt. After college, he landed a job at Columbia Records in 1963 in its special-projects division, where he helped produce Broadway recordings (“I was the new guy, fresh meat, to do all the grunt work on those projects”). Later, Simon was assigned to produce the duo of Paul Simon (no relation) and Art Garfunkel. Of his work with the famed folk musicians, he writes, “They were smart, hip, a little neurotic...I was familiar with that combination.” Throughout, he populates this memoir with humorous details and matter-of-fact commentary. Along the way, he offers windows into the economics of the music business and the recording process; in an account of his recordings with Cohen, for instance, Simon explains that “instead of using horns or strings for the musical lines that accompanied his vocals, I used wordless female voices, mostly sung by Nancy Priddy, my girlfriend at the time, who was uncredited—until now.” Simply by virtue of his producing resume, Simon’s memoir is incredibly readable, with plenty of quote-worthy anecdotes. That said, some aspects of the book feel underexplained, such as how he got that initial job at Columbia that launched his career.
An intriguing memoir about an unusual career involving some celebrated musical figures.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)