Songs that sell the most copies become hits, but some of those hits become something more—iconic recordings that not only inspire a generation but also change the direction of music. In ANATOMY OF A SONG: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop, journalist and music historian Marc Myers tells the stories behind five decades of rock, pop and R&B hits through intimate interviews with the artists and creators who wrote and recorded them. Based on his ongoing column for The Wall Street Journal, the book features new chapter introductions detailing the drama that caused R&B and rock to evolve over five decades. Many chapters include new material from fresh reporting or Myers’ original interview tapes.
The songs in ANATOMY OF A SONG range from Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” one of rock ’n’ roll’s first hits, to Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,” Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” and R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” Mick Jagger demystifies the eclectic ballad “Moonlight Mile,” a song he says wasn’t about drugs but about loneliness on a grueling European tour. Joni Mitchell remembers arriving brokenhearted in the village of Matala on the Greek island of Crete and living in a cave with the “mean old daddy” who went on to inspire her 1971 hit “Carey.” And Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Jimmy Cliff, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, John Fogerty, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper, and many others reveal for the first time the emotions and technique behind their influential works.
ANATOMY OF A SONG reads like a literary jukebox, allowing readers to jump in anywhere to learn the story behind their favorite songs. Or it can be read linearly as a history of popular music in the second half of the twentieth century. Songs are presented in chronological order, each is framed by an introduction bringing that moment in music history to life: the cultural context, evolving technology, and larger trends in music. An absorbing song-by-song analysis of transformative hits spanning forty years. ANATOMY OF A SONG provides a sweeping look at the evolution of pop music through the artists’ own words. This book will change how readers listen to rock and R&B hits and view the artists who created them.
Marc Myers is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, where he writes about rock, soul, pop and jazz, as well as the arts. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Why Jazz Happened and posts daily at JazzWax.com, a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Blog of the Year “award.