Libby's Reviews > Beautiful Music

Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
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“Don’t you ever listen to the radio when the big bad beat comes on?”
---Bob Seger

‘Beautiful Music’ by Michael Zadoorian will appeal to music aficionados, especially of the 1960s and 70s, audiophiles, and those who just love music in general. The appeal for me was the ‘wicked’ aural experience I engaged in as I listened to dozens of the songs (on Spotify) as I was reading about them. The story begins in 1969 in Detroit, Michigan as ten year old Danny Yzemski calls in a song request to Canadian radio station CKLW. Danny wants to hear ‘A Boy Named Sue’ by Johnny Cash. After three tries, Danny is able to say his name and the song he wants to hear with enough enthusiasm that DJ Ed Mitchell is happy to record it. A couple of hours later, Danny hears his voice come across the radio airwaves of powerhouse radio station CKLW and his request is played.

A major backdrop for ‘Beautiful Music’ is the race riots that occurred in July of 1967. So many buildings burned down that it seemed like the entire city of Detroit was on fire and 43 people died. Because she’s afraid of what might happen out on the streets, Danny’s mother likes for him to stay inside the house. His father thinks he needs ‘fresh air’ but Danny is content to be in the house. His friend Jim’s family moves away because of the fear of another riot. Spending all his time building model cars and listening to the radio, Danny is isolated from everyone but his parents during the summertime. Music is a huge bond between Danny and his father. Danny grows to connect everything good in his life with music. When his father listens to the Beautiful Music radio station and it signs off at the end of the day, the air is suddenly empty of music and vibration, something Danny feels deeply and fears.

This is a beautiful coming of age story that rekindled some of my memories about growing up in the late 60s and 70s just like Danny. My parents were strict; my music playlist was pretty short. I was allowed to listen to ‘Johnny Cash’, ‘Peter, Paul, and Mary,’ ‘Simon and Garfunkel,’ and ‘The Carpenters.’ Zadoorian writes about Danny’s father purchasing a stereo system and creating a family room. This brought back my memories of my Dad’s stereo cabinet; my sister and I were not allowed to ‘mess’ with it at all. Dad had some beautiful gospel albums, which he always played on Sunday morning, whistling as we got ready for church. In ‘Beautiful Music’ a tragedy will change the course of Danny’s life; his music playlist changes too. Even though Danny’s playlist changes, music remains his north star, helping to define his path. Watching Danny become a bit rebellious, mostly in his music choices, reminded me of how much I missed of the music that was 1970s rock and roll. I got to catch up on all that with Danny. It was a blast!

I love the beautiful relationship Danny has with his father. Harold Yzemski shows interest and pride in whatever Danny is doing, and when he’s a little older, he teaches him how to drive. He asks him about his day and when Danny talks about being bullied, his father gives him good advice, “Look him in the eye.” He shelters Danny from the fallout of his mother’s depression. There is such warmth from this book character, it makes my heart ache. For all his warmth, however, Danny’s father as well as his mother accept the racial prejudice of their time.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Danny asks his Dad what he likes about music. Danny says, “It just makes me happy.” His father talks about the daily grind, how he goes to work and comes home day after day, about how everything seems so routine and the days just go by without much to distinguish them from one another.

But, his father says, “when I’m here with you, like right now, listening to something on the stereo? Or just listening to it while I read the paper? Or work in my shop? I don’t know, it makes me feel different. Almost like a different person, I know that sounds crazy, I mean I’m here listening to it, but it’s like I’m not here. Does that make sense? It takes me somewhere, changes something, slows things down…”

Connection, whether it's with another person, the world we live in, or something deep inside ourselves is a major part of the alchemy of music. I love it! 4.5 stars
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Reading Progress

August 5, 2018 – Started Reading
August 5, 2018 – Shelved
August 5, 2018 –
page 202
August 5, 2018 –
page 272
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: coming-of-age
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: family-relationships
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: identity-fiction
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: published-2018
August 6, 2018 – Shelved as: read-in-2018
August 6, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Lovely review , Libby.

Libby Angela M wrote: "Lovely review , Libby."
Thanks Angela :D

message 3: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Nice review, Libby!

Libby Ellen wrote: "Nice review, Libby!"

Thanks Ellen!

Diane S ☔ And a beautiful review too, Libby.

message 6: by Libby (last edited Aug 09, 2018 05:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Libby Diane S ☔ wrote: "And a beautiful review too, Libby."

Thanks so much Diane :o)

message 7: by ☮Karen (new)

☮Karen Great review, Libby.

Libby ☮Karen wrote: "Great review, Libby."

Thanks so much Karen :o)

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