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A Memoir

by Shawn Colvin

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-175959-8
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

A chatty, but only occasionally enlightening, life story from the confessional singer-songwriter.

Three-time Grammy winner Colvin’s life has long been a source for her songs, but it wears thin in her memoir. She’s frank about the many ups and downs of her personal life and career, where the slow climb to commercial and critical success meant overcoming a series of personal disasters: alcoholism, anorexia, clinical depression, panic disorder and numerous broken romances. In perspective, it’s an inspiring story, as Colvin spent years of paying dues and saw her first album, Steady On, win a Grammy. She has overcome a lot, and is apparently content with her life as a respected singer and devoted mother. Unfortunately, the book too often bogs down into the territory of many numbing addiction chronicles, padded with daily affirmations, mad shopping binges and the usual dreary details of life on the road. At times, the book feels like a therapeutic chore. For patient readers and close listeners of her music, there is some payoff when Colvin discusses her songs and the writing process: how “Diamond in the Rough” put her in the odd position of co-writing “a song with someone about breaking up with that someone” or how “if you can get one good line or verse right at the beginning, the song will be set up well for you.” Also: “the act of performing a new song in front of people is the ultimate bullshit detector.”

Ultimately, there’s too much "Of Meds and Men" and too little of the music that made Colvin popular.