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NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT by Michael Feinstein


My Life in Rhythm and Rhyme

By Michael Feinstein

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7868-6093-6
Publisher: Hyperion

 Memoirs, gossip, music history, and a little New Age philosophy from this noted cabaret star. Feinstein has made his mark on the musical world as a champion of the ``Golden Age'' of pop song. Here he traces his life from childhood in Columbus, Ohio, through a series of fortuitous accidents that led him to be employed as archivist/companion to Ira Gershwin during the last six years of the famed lyricist's life. Gershwin provided Feinstein with a deep understanding of the process of popular songwriting, and Feinstein was able to use his position as a building block in his subsequent career. The book has many amusing anecdotes about Gershwin in his semi-bedridden state, along with his ``barracuda'' of a wife, who lavished gifts on the young Feinstein while plotting his downfall. As Gershwin's representative, he helped oversee Tommy Tune's revival of My One and Only, although Feinstein's purist tendencies annoyed both the star and the producers, who were more interested in scoring a hit than honoring the exact intentions of the music's creators. In between recounting his ``life with Ira,'' Feinstein gives a thumbnail history of popular song, telling anecdotes about other notable composers, including Harry Warren (whom he also knew) and Irving Berlin (whom he did not). A bizarre undercurrent based on Feinstein's belief in ``the healing power of music'' reaches its nadir in his interpretation of Ira Gershwin's rather lame song ``Sunny Disposish'' as a philosophical treatise on the powers of ``natural healing [as espoused by] Norman Cousins [and] Deepak Chopra.'' Although Feinstein makes no bones about the singers he dislikes (including Frank Sinatra and Mel TormÇ, whom he calls ``Melismatic Torment''), he does not have the courage to let his criticisms stand unamended, often apologizing after smearing the offending crooner. S'readable and and fans will think that s'enjoyable, if not exactly that s'wonderful. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)