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But He Doesn't Know The Territory
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But He Doesn't Know The Territory

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
From the jacket:

"One million Happy Theatre-goers have seen Meredith Wilson's 'The Music Man' at the MAjestic Theatre in New York since it opened on December 19th, 1957. Hundreds of thousands more have enjoyed the National Company as it played Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Chicago.Meredith Wilson wrote the music t
Hardcover, 1st, 190 pages
Published 1959 by Putnam
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(showing 1-30)
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V. Briceland
This short, swift read chronicles the birth of the classic musical, The Music Man, from conception to its opening night on Broadway in 1957. The book's most interesting parts are those that highlight Wilson's ethic at work in the show's genesis. It's pleasant, for example, to see borne out his staunch belief in the appeal of non-rhyming, rhythmic lyrics such as those in show standouts like "Rock Island" or "Trouble", as well as his conviction that an old-fashioned, real barbershop quartet could ...more
Karen GoatKeeper
Jan 20, 2015 Karen GoatKeeper rated it liked it
Shelves: read2015, nonfiction
Remember "76 Trombones," "Goodnight, My Someone," and "Til There Was You"? The Music Man was a different kind of musical and is still unique in some ways. This book is how the musical came to be and why it is different from other musicals.
Meredith Willson wrote lyrics for various things. He had never done a musical. No one thought anyone could write a successful musical about Iowa, his home state. He took up the challenge.
The book is slow reading in some ways. For anyone who writes, especially s
Aug 28, 2016 Sallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the musical Music Man, and I'm looking forward to reading all about it from the horse's mouth, or I should say author's. 8/27/16 - finished reading this ebook, loved every minute of it, and even knowing Robert Preston played Harold Hill on Broadway as well as the movie, I anxiously awaited their finally figuring that out!

Then, last night, I watched my dvd of the movie Music Man. I can sing right along with all the songs in this movie.
Jim Kelsh
Aug 08, 2015 Jim Kelsh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I've read: This is a delightful little find. Meredith Wilson...the creator of "The Music Man"...wrote a book in 1958 about the making of this great musical. What gem, funny, self deprecating, and full of cool notes on the writing and rehearsals. I saw a production this week on Minneapolis at the was great and this book was in the gift shop. If you love theater or just "The Music Man" try and find this. Four and half Jimmys out of five
Oct 28, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remembering the creation of a classic

I love musical theater and The Music Man is one of a handful of shows that abide in a certain corner of my heart where I go when the real world gets dark and stormy. Meredith Willson's vivid story of its creation is a great read for those who love theater in general and The Music Man in particular.
Brian Saul
Jul 08, 2009 Brian Saul rated it it was amazing
Actually, I was looking for a biography of Meredith Willson, but none were available in the library at the time. This filled is as a great 2nd choice.

A fun, easy, quickly read account from the author's point of view in a down-home, Iowan folksy style on the making of his biggest moneymaker, THE MUSIC MAN from its conception to opening night on Broadway. I've been interested in Meredith Willson ever since I read the liner notes he wrote for the original cast recording back in 1963, which I bought
Sep 19, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love The Music Man and this is the story of how it came to be. I read this a long time ago and it's even better than I remembered.
David Earle
Oct 12, 2013 David Earle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love stories about Broadway! I especially love autobiographical books written by Broadway’s greats! “But He Doesn’t Know the Territory” is one such novel that doesn’t disappoint, written by composer and playwright, Meredith Wilson, who chronicles his creation of one of America’s most beloved musicals, “The Music Man.” His lighthearted and whimsical writing details how the idea for such a play came to be (Wilson once described “The Music Man” as “an Iowan’s attempt to pay tribute to his home st ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love "The Music Man," if lines like "She advocates dirty books," "How can there be any sin in sincere?' and "I hope and I pray for Hester to win just one more A," make you laugh every time you hear them, if you can't keep your toes from tapping when those seventy-six trombones lead the big parade, AND if you've wondered how this miracle of a musical made it to Broadway, read this.

I first read a library copy and longed to own the book but back then it was out of print and copies were going
Dec 14, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it
I REALLY enjoyed this biography of Meredith Willson that chronicles the writing and performing of The Music Man. (The broadway show, The Music Man, not the movie, the book was released several years before the show was adapted to film.) The book provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the writing and rewriting of the musical--the lyrics to the songs, the music, the dialogue, etc. There were around 40 drafts of this musical before he got it just right! There is quite a bit of difference between h ...more
May 22, 2014 Richard rated it liked it
I'm getting ready to work on a production of THE MUSIC MAN, so this book was a timely choice for me. Willson's "aw-shucks" style was his stock-in-trade, and he lays it on pretty thick in this glossy telling of the gestation of MUSIC MAN. He tells us that the script went through "40-odd" revisions and that there was a sub-plot about a spastic child that ended up turning into Winthrop, but most of the details of the revisions are pretty vague. He says he cut 22 songs, but mentions very very few of ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Talia rated it really liked it
Considering that I’ve been waiting to read this out-of-print book since I was 11, you can imagine the thrill I experienced when I realized it been printed again. This insightful look into how “The Music Man” came to be is charming and sheds light on one of (in my opinion) the greatest musicals ever made. I got it thinking I’d read about the Broadway play during its run and the movie. Instead, I got a history on Meredith Willson’s background and how he developed the idea for the play that origina ...more
Jul 10, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun, light read in which Meredith Willson writes about the process of writing THE MUSIC MAN, including the many, many drafts, the search for someone to produce and direct, etc. It's an interesting look at the way Broadway musicals were created back in the 50s, with cameos from many theatre legends of the day. Willson writes (as he says in the foreword) as he talks, which I imagine is off-putting to some (he writes "overt" instead of "over to," "set" instead of "sit," etc) but it didn't really ...more
Jun 22, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
A quick and charming memoir about the making of The Music Man, which isn't my favorite musical of all time, but I have a soft spot for it, having played a Pick-a-Little lady in high school. There's no pretension here, just Willson and the raw truth about 40 drafts, and the absurdity of the fact that the songs are more rhythmic dialogue than modern music. I loved the tone of this book, but wish I didn't know from other books that the success of Music Man made Mr. Willson a diva. I like him here, ...more
Feb 14, 2011 Allan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After rediscovering an earlier Willson book this past Christmas, I searched for and found this one. Willson, of "The Music Man" fame, wrote this delightful book to tell how the music,. book, and production of the perennial stage favorite came to life. Since it's about my favorite musical, it's obvious I liked the book. Willson's Iowa-stubborn style and memories of an earlier time in America join to warm your heart and his description of how to produce a major musical is funny and enlightening. I ...more
Joe Gaspard
Sep 16, 2014 Joe Gaspard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining remembrance of everything that went into writing The Music Man. This musical usually gets my vote for shows that seem to perfectly integrate the music with the story. While the show seems like it came fully formed out of Willson's head, the real story shows the persistence that it took to get it to the final form. Written in a deliberately folksy, down home style which could have gotten old (but didn't). Recommended for any fans of musical theater.
Aug 25, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, showbiz
Meredith Willson tells the story of the process of writing the incredibly successful musical "The Music Man". Mr. Willson's tale was very interesting and lightly written; he's very personable and fills us non-theatrical people in on how the business works and his trials and tribulations getting the show written and produced. A very fun read. I love that show and now I'm a big fan of Mr. Willson's as well.
Kim Martin
Meredith Willson is a writer with an unusual voice, and it took a bit to get used to it, but Music Man is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and Willson's story of its origins is fun, funny, personal, and engaging. He shares some really nice tidbits. Like, as familiar as I am with the music, it never occurred to me that 76 Trombones and Good Night, My Someone are the same song in different rhythms (even though they are sung together in Act 2. I really enjoyed this quick read.
Jan 21, 2015 Therese rated it liked it
2.5 stars. I lOVE The Music Man. I found the writing style hard to follow and wish there had been more about the Broadway production (and especially about Robert Preston) but it was interesting to read how the play developed. Am glad I saw Phantom in the Majestic - cool to think that this play I love so much was once performed there.
Jul 30, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of "The Music Man"
I wish I had read this before seeing the most recent production of "The Music Man." After reading it, there are certainly elements of the production that I will pay more attention to in the future. Willson has a small-town, enjoyable writing style. Fans of "The Music Man" will probably enjoy this book.
Eric Peterson
Jun 13, 2014 Eric Peterson rated it really liked it
Anyone who has an interest in how a Broadway show gets made should take a look at this - also anyone who likes The Music Man, as most people do. Willson's voice is sometimes too self-consciously folksy, but it's mostly really funny and I really want to get his earlier book about playing piccolo with Sousa.
Apr 21, 2015 Viktor rated it it was amazing
An heartfelt romp through his years of work and strife in bringing "The Music Man" to the Broadway stage.

Lot's a of great anecdotes. And lots of priceless asides -- 2 pages about barbershop quartets!

And a great closing line.
Jan 04, 2014 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, humorous and candid look at the creation of a musical theatre classic. Meredith Willson was a genius. I just wish there were more stories of auditions, rehearsals etc. I guess Mere couldn't be everywhere at once. A delight to read.
Timothy J. McDonald

Wanna know how a smash Broadway show gets painstakingly built? Read this. A delight. Hated that the ending was so abrupt, but ... we all know how it ended. Sorry I finished it. It could have gone on for a couple more chapters.
Aug 28, 2016 Sallie rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why GoodReads puts this in two places, but I started this last night, and had to force myself to put it down and go to bed. He had me laughing out loud many times, and I'm only up to chapter 3!
Jul 06, 2013 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
entertaining autobiography from the creator of the MUSIC MAN -- this book focuses on the creation and production of that classic musical over years of writing and tinkering through its opening night.
Oct 17, 2011 Debra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute read about the writing and mounting of "The Music Man" by Meredith Willson. Always one of my favorite movies and musical scores, it was interesting to learn how the show came about. Written in 1959 this was before the movie so no indication of what that was like.
Feb 22, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: musical fans
I'd completely forgotten reading this book about one of my favorite musicals, The Music Man, until I saw this has been reissued as an ebook.
Norm Deplume
Mar 23, 2016 Norm Deplume rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A slight little memoir, filled with fun. A great lighthearted read about a great bit of musical theater.

Interesting, if disjointed, book about the creating of The Music Man. It took a very long time, but it is a near perfect musical!
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