Peter Furlong

Singer as Perceived: New Billie Holiday Biography

Sep 30, 2015

With this book, “Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth,” John Szwed gives us an intelligent analysis of both the music of Billie Holiday and the life she and co-author William Dufty described in the memoir, “Lady Sings the Blues.” This is not “just another” Holiday biography, so expect serious unearthing of documented achievement in artistic settings; the accounts of poverty, prostitution, racism, and addiction are to be found elsewhere.

In his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life, Willie Nelson portrays himself as Texas outlaw, rebel, and anti-establishment musician with an enduring professional integrity. He began as a country blues guitar picker and aspiring songwriter. His singing was applauded by the locals in the Texas roadhouses and juke joints, and his friends said he had written some great songs. However, Nashville record companies rejected him.

Book Review: Herbie Hancock - In the Moment

Apr 9, 2015

In this book, Possibilities, by Herbie Hancock, the words seem to flow as the author’s music career has evolved—smoothly and naturally. Herbie’s musical talent was apparent at age eleven, when he won a contest right to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. An early aptitude for understanding technical material and analysis, plus joy in taking things apart, foretold a career in engineering. His practical parents used an uncle’s South Chicago address in the Hyde Park High School district to qualify him a place at a desired school. His classes were easy.

Book Review: Santana - Pioneering Latin Rock

Feb 27, 2015

As I work through the autobiography of any rock guitarist, (e.g. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and now Carlos Santana), I speculate on the actual writing involvement of the subject.

In this memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light, journalist Ashley Kahn and tour companion/musician Hal Miller headline the “Acknowledgements” page.

Gil Scott-Heron: Is That Jazz? A book review

Dec 31, 2014

Chroniclers of the life of Gil-Scot Heron (GSH) describe him as a contradiction—the lead evidence is his self-destructive drug use while musically preaching the dangers of drugs to others. Critics also cite parent Gil’s neglect of his children despite having been pained by the absence of his own father. These and other tales of failings and accomplishments are here—the compassion and neglect, the engagement and denial, the creativity and ambivalence.