The first and only Miles Davis album that I ever bought was Bitches Brew in 1970. I later used the music on the album to jar students in a training cl...moreThe first and only Miles Davis album that I ever bought was Bitches Brew in 1970. I later used the music on the album to jar students in a training class to think creativity, but have not listened to the album in years. So I did not know what to expect when I decided to listen to the autobiography of Miles Davis. The original book came out in 1989. The audio recording that I listened to came out in 2012. I have since listened to the Kind of Blue which many consider his magnum opus. I loved it.
Miles Davis was born in southern Illinois in 1926 the year after my father was born in central Illinois. They grew up in two very different worlds. He died a year after my father in 1991. So he was clearly of my father's generation. Miles was the son of a dentist and even considered going into medicine himself, but soon found that jazz was his true love. My father was the son of a farmer and spent his life building houses for people.
Miles Davis tells his story in his own words and in his own way. Quincy Troupe interviewed and recorded Miles and transcribed and organized the powerful story. I must warn anyone who is offended by swear words not to even consider reading the book. Almost every paragraph has language that will be offensive to some.
Miles began playing with some of the great jazz players when he was seventeen. He played with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker and was a member of Parker's band for several years. He enrolled in Juilliard but later dropped out. One of the things that surprised me was how often musicians moved in and out of bands. Bands did not stay together very long and would substitute players. John Coltrane played in Miles band from 1955 - 1960. Later in the 1960s, Herbie Hancock was a member of his band. Miles mentored and influenced many younger musicians.
Miles Davis was continually changing and innovating his music. He did not sit still and play the same songs. He was always on the cutting edge, looking for something new. He was a creative genius, adapting and changing with the times. Once he finished with one style of music, he did not like to go back and play it again. In the late 60's he was influenced and inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Sly Stone, which led to Davis using electric instruments in his band. Davis and Hendrix wanted to record an album together but Hendrix's death derailed the idea. Davis in the 1980's was inspired by the music of Prince.
Like Charlie Parker and other musicians, Davis became addicted to heroin. He was eventually able to kick the habit, but found other drugs like cocaine and sex to take its place.
In 1955, Davis had an operation to remove polyps from his larynx. He was not supposed to speak for 10 days but had an argument with someone and permanently damaged his voice, resulting in a raspy, whispery tone to his voice. The actor, Dion Graham, who read the book for the recording, did a phenomenal job imitating Miles' whispery voice. I had the feeling that I was actually listening to Miles Davis tell his story.
This book is not for everyone. You will need an open mind and a willingness to listen to a the opinions of a creative genius. You will need to be willing to step into his world view and if you do you will be richly rewarded. I would recommend the book to jazz lovers and those interested in understanding the world of music. I also recommend that you listen to the Dion Graham recording rather than reading the book. I think you will find it a lot more entertaining.(less)
This is not a book I would have bought for myself since I have never been a fan of Alan Alda, but since it was a gift I read it and liked it. The reas...moreThis is not a book I would have bought for myself since I have never been a fan of Alan Alda, but since it was a gift I read it and liked it. The reason I have never been a fan of Alda is because I never liked the TV show, MASH. I have never believed in war and usually don't like anything about it, even satire. This book has almost nothing to do with the TV show.
This book taught me to like and appreciate Alan Alda. It is loosely structured around speeches he has given — mostly commencement speeches. He discusses the lessons he has learned in life and wants to share with others.
I would recommend this book to speakers and wanna-be speakers as well as anyone who likes or does not like Alan Alda. It gives you a different picture of the man.(less)
Don't read the book; listen to the CD. This is a memoir of Ed McMahon's time with Johnny Carson. It is full of jokes that on the written page much of...moreDon't read the book; listen to the CD. This is a memoir of Ed McMahon's time with Johnny Carson. It is full of jokes that on the written page much of the humor is lost. Get the CD and enjoy the laughs.(less)
This book contains the childhood memories of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who grew up in West Virginia during the 1950s and 1960s. He tells the story of wh...moreThis book contains the childhood memories of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who grew up in West Virginia during the 1950s and 1960s. He tells the story of what it was to be black in West Virginia. (less)
The book is subtitled: Selected Haibun. I would not classify most of these writings as haibun. This book reminds me more of a journal or an author's n...moreThe book is subtitled: Selected Haibun. I would not classify most of these writings as haibun. This book reminds me more of a journal or an author's notes. The author raises questions about what makes a haiku. Unfortunately, his answers are not always satisfactory or complete. For example, he discusses rhyme in haiku and considers it okay because someone translated Japanese haiku and made them rhyme. Haiku should not rhyme. One of the most important aspects of haiku is the season word which Bremson never discusses.
In the book, the author introduces us to some of his haiku and he explains what inspired the haiku. I did find some of his inspiration interesting to read about.
For me the strongest and most interesting part of the book was when Bremson writes about his two wives, one of whom killed herself. I would have enjoyed reading a memoir of his marriages with senryu tucked between the paragraphs, but I will have to wait until that book is written.
Here are two of the haiku that I liked:
after the storm - from the wet grass evening fireflies rise
full moon tangled up in a spider web
Many of these poems I consider to be senryu. Here are a few I liked.
all those spring blossoms and she could not see a single reason to live
woman in a t-shirt — across her chest the words "rub here for good luck"(less)
For the record, this is the first ebook that I have read on my Kindle Fire which has been a different experience in and of itself. I heard an intervie...moreFor the record, this is the first ebook that I have read on my Kindle Fire which has been a different experience in and of itself. I heard an interview with Rosanne Cash and decided to read the book. When I was young I was a fan of Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire) and when I became a hippie I put him aside. A few years ago, I began to listen to his music again. I also bought an album of Rosanne's music as a result of the interview.
Rosanne views herself as more of a songwriter than a performer. She loves words. The book was easy to read and jumped back and forth in time as she shared her experiences and thoughts. The book is about Rosanne's life, not her father's.(less)
No writer could ask for a better biography from a child. This is a very compassionate, kind, loving and gentle telling of a father's story, including...moreNo writer could ask for a better biography from a child. This is a very compassionate, kind, loving and gentle telling of a father's story, including his failings such as bisexuality, alcoholism and adultery. The book is full of touching memories. The last chapter on the dying of her father is very compassionate and moving. It brought tears to my eyes. When the people die, the living often wish they had done something different and they are filled with regret. Mary, John's wife, regretted going out to get the mail and lingering to look at her garden. When she came back, she found John on the floor with a broken leg. He died a few days later. My mother always regretted the last words she spoke in anger to my father the day he died.
George Dawson has a goodt story to tell. He was born in 1898, the grandson of slaves, in east Texas where his father owned and farmed 40 acres and liv...moreGeorge Dawson has a goodt story to tell. He was born in 1898, the grandson of slaves, in east Texas where his father owned and farmed 40 acres and lived to be over 100 years old. His story came to the attention of the media when he went to school at the age of 96 to learn how to read. With the help of Richard Glaubman, he tells his story in the first person. The first chapter is the most dramatic because the ten year old George witnesses the lynching of an older teenage boy, falsely accused of raping a white girl. George never went to school and never learned to read because as the oldest he had to stay home and help his father on the farm. When George was in his twenties, he traveled across North America by train. Sometimes he paid for his ticket and sometimes he hitched a ride like other hobos. He traveled to Canada and Mexico besides the U.S. Two thirds of the book is spent on the first thirty years of his life. The last third of the book skips through the remainder of his life. (less)
Touch and Go is a brilliant, insightful memoir filled with poetic language and great stories by the legendary Studs Terkel. And the amazing thing is t...moreTouch and Go is a brilliant, insightful memoir filled with poetic language and great stories by the legendary Studs Terkel. And the amazing thing is that he was 94 when he dictated the book or should I say carried on a conversation about his life. I first encountered Studs Terkel in the 1970's through his oral history of work. A professor of mine, Nickolas Lindsay, son of Vachel Lindsay, was interviewed for the book. A radio and TV show host early in his career, Terkel was black-listed during the early 50's and under the surveillance of the FBI. He produced his first book of oral history when he was 55. I actually listened to the audio version of this book read by Norman Dietz and it took awhile for me to get into the rhythm of the book. Studs jumps back and forth in time frequently, sometimes within the same sentence. And he is always going off on tangents. Early in the book he is talking about his father's moustache when he is eight. Soon he is talking about the actors in silent films. He constantly makes historical and cultural references to people and places. I first thought it probably would have been better to read the book than to listen to it because it would be easier to catch all his references. I realized as I was finishing the book that the audio version was probably best because it was like listening to Studs tell stories and carry on a conversation. It might be boring to actually read it. It took awhile to get used to the voice of Norman Dietz. At first I found him annoying. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves language, history and stories. (less)
I read this book after reading "Dean and Me" by Jerry Lewis and was disappointed. Hale simply recounts each year of the Dean Martin Show and basically...moreI read this book after reading "Dean and Me" by Jerry Lewis and was disappointed. Hale simply recounts each year of the Dean Martin Show and basically talks about the guests and their behavior. He does confirm much of what Jerry Lewis says about Dean. Dean Martin was not interested in the behind the scenes aspect of show business. He wanted to show up, do his thing and leave. His contract for the Dean Martin show had a clause that he only had to work one day a week and that was Sunday. So the guests and crew would rehearse all week and Dean would show up without rehearsing. They would tape the show and it would air the following week. And it worked. Dean Martin worked best when the acting was spontaneous without rehearsal. Hale agrees with Lewis that Martin was a comic genius.(less)
When I first picked up this book, I had no idea that it would be full of insight into business partnerships. The focus of this memoir is the ten year...moreWhen I first picked up this book, I had no idea that it would be full of insight into business partnerships. The focus of this memoir is the ten year business partnership between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The memoir tells how they met, their early success together and the troubles that came with fame and their ultimate breakup.
Subtitled "A Love Story." the book is details Jerry's love and respect for Dean. Jerry comments again and again about Dean's comic genius that was overlooked by most fans and critics. Jerry says that Dean was a man's man and that even Frank Sinatra was mesmerized by Dean. From a working class family in Stuebenville, Ohio, Dean found his way out through his voice and gift for singing. But it was the cool persona that he created over the years that made him a star.
I identified 12 business lessons that can be drawn from the stories that Jerry tells.
1. Have fun working together. And this Jerry and Dean did in the early years of their partnership. They enjoyed each others company. 2. Be sure to laugh together. They were always cracking each other up and experiencing those deep belly laughs that are good for the spirit and the body. 3. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! In the early years of their relationship, Dean and Jerry communicated well. In last few months of the partnership, they stopped talking. 4. Dress for success. Become the person you want to be. Martin and Lewis wore tuxedos in their live shows and elevated their performance to the next level. 5. As you are growing your business, don't underprice yourself. Martin and Lewis were offered half of what the other clubs were paying to play the best night club in New York and their agent turned it down. 6. Trust your gut and the gut instincts of your partner. Dean time and time again trusted the instincts of Jerry even if there was no plausible reason. Sometimes you have to do what your partner believes to be necessary even if it don't make sense. 7. Don't listen to negative hanger-ons. Dean and Jerry let the so-called friends come between them. These friends would whisper negative things about the other partner. Do not let others come between you. 8. Don't bad mouth your partner to others. You have to have each other's backs. You have to protect each other. 9. Don't listen to your press -- both positive and negative. The surprising thing for me was the press reviews spoke often of Jerry's genius but claimed that Dean was second rate. They failed to see the comic genius of Martin. Over the years this ate away at Martin until he started feuding with the press -- a game you can never win. 10. If your partnership is on the rocks, don't take your anger at your partner out on your employees, family members and friends. Learn to work through your anger together. Good partners learn how to fight and still love and respect each other. 11. Know when to call it quits. Every relationship has a beginning, middle and a end. Go out when you are on top. Don't let the relationship peter out. 12. There is always a second act. Both Martin and Lewis went on to successful careers without each other. Nothing lasts for ever. Be ready to move on when the time is right and have faith that you will find your way.
I listened to this book twice and found it very humorous and entertaining. I recommend that you listen to it rather than read it so you can pick up the humor. Stephen Hoye did a great job reading the book.
If you are in a business partnership, a marriage or just love Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, this is the book for you. (less)