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"Bob Boilen’s book gets at something real and rare about the power of music."— New York Times Book Review From the beloved host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts comes an essential oral history of modern music, told in the voices of iconic and up-and-coming musicians, including Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, Michael Stipe, Carrie Brownstein, Smoke "Bob Boilen’s book gets at something real and rare about the power of music."— New York Times Book Review From the beloved host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts comes an essential oral history of modern music, told in the voices of iconic and up-and-coming musicians, including Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, Michael Stipe, Carrie Brownstein, Smokey Robinson, and Jeff Tweedy, among others—published in association with NPR Music. Is there a unforgettable song that changed your life? NPR’s renowned music authority Bob Boilen posed this question to some of today’s best-loved musical legends and rising stars. In Your Song Changed My Life, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), St. Vincent, Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, David Byrne (Talking Heads), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Jenny Lewis, Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney), Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Trey Anastasio (Phish), Jackson Browne, Valerie June, Philip Glass, James Blake, and other artists reflect on pivotal moments that inspired their work. For Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, it was discovering his sister’s 45 of The Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn.” A young St. Vincent’s life changed the day a box of CDs literally fell off a delivery truck in front of her house. Cat Stevens was transformed when he heard John Lennon cover “Twist and Shout.” These are the momentous yet unmarked events that have shaped these and many other musical talents, and ultimately the sound of modern music. A diverse collection of personal experiences, both ordinary and extraordinary, Your Song Changed My Life illustrates the ways in which music is revived, restored, and revolutionized. It is also a testament to the power of music in our lives, and an inspiration for future artists and music lovers. Amazing contributors include: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia, Wild Flag), Smokey Robinson, David Byrne (Talking Heads), St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), James Blake, Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Trey Anastasio (Phish), Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Sturgill Simpson, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, Jackson Browne, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Philip Glass, Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Hozier, Regina Carter, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, and others), Courtney Barnett, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers), Leon Bridges, Sharon Van Etten, and many more.


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"Bob Boilen’s book gets at something real and rare about the power of music."— New York Times Book Review From the beloved host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts comes an essential oral history of modern music, told in the voices of iconic and up-and-coming musicians, including Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, Michael Stipe, Carrie Brownstein, Smoke "Bob Boilen’s book gets at something real and rare about the power of music."— New York Times Book Review From the beloved host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts comes an essential oral history of modern music, told in the voices of iconic and up-and-coming musicians, including Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, Michael Stipe, Carrie Brownstein, Smokey Robinson, and Jeff Tweedy, among others—published in association with NPR Music. Is there a unforgettable song that changed your life? NPR’s renowned music authority Bob Boilen posed this question to some of today’s best-loved musical legends and rising stars. In Your Song Changed My Life, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), St. Vincent, Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, David Byrne (Talking Heads), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Jenny Lewis, Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney), Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Trey Anastasio (Phish), Jackson Browne, Valerie June, Philip Glass, James Blake, and other artists reflect on pivotal moments that inspired their work. For Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, it was discovering his sister’s 45 of The Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn.” A young St. Vincent’s life changed the day a box of CDs literally fell off a delivery truck in front of her house. Cat Stevens was transformed when he heard John Lennon cover “Twist and Shout.” These are the momentous yet unmarked events that have shaped these and many other musical talents, and ultimately the sound of modern music. A diverse collection of personal experiences, both ordinary and extraordinary, Your Song Changed My Life illustrates the ways in which music is revived, restored, and revolutionized. It is also a testament to the power of music in our lives, and an inspiration for future artists and music lovers. Amazing contributors include: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia, Wild Flag), Smokey Robinson, David Byrne (Talking Heads), St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), James Blake, Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Trey Anastasio (Phish), Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Sturgill Simpson, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, Jackson Browne, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Philip Glass, Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Hozier, Regina Carter, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, and others), Courtney Barnett, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers), Leon Bridges, Sharon Van Etten, and many more.

30 review for Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music That Inspired It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    This is not a book about the songs that changes the life of various musicians. It is a book about the author.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    The author Bob Boilen is the host and creator of NPR's online music show All Songs Considered. This book is a compilation of interviews and collected biographical information that I presume was collected during the preparation for his show. The radio program began in the year 2000 and this book was published in 2016, thus most of these musicians are still alive and active in their field. The interview questions concentrated on what songs and other artists inspired the interviewee in the early yea The author Bob Boilen is the host and creator of NPR's online music show All Songs Considered. This book is a compilation of interviews and collected biographical information that I presume was collected during the preparation for his show. The radio program began in the year 2000 and this book was published in 2016, thus most of these musicians are still alive and active in their field. The interview questions concentrated on what songs and other artists inspired the interviewee in the early years of their musical development to devote their lives to a music career. The answers were varied and wide ranging, and their replies often reinforced the concept contained in the book's title that there was a song that, "Changed my life." I never listened to "All Songs Considered," and I have been almost completely out of touch with popular music since the 60s and early 70s—I sort of lost interest after the "Beatles" and "Peter, Paul and Mary" faded from the scene. It should logically follow that there is much I could learn from this book. Unfortunately, this book consists of thirty-five short biographies, and reading them has much the same effect as a book of short stories. The various stories tend to become intermixed in the mind of the reader, and it's difficult to pull out a central theme or message from the book. The only artist featured in this book that I recognized was Cat Stevens. However, some of them are or have been associated with bands whose names I do recognize. For example, I did not recognize the name Jimmy Page, but I had heard of the band Led Zeppelin which he founded. The following is a list of the musical artists featured in this book with links to their respective Wikipedia articles: Jimmy Page Carrie Brownstein Smokey Robinson David Byrne St. Vinent Jeff Tweedy James Blake Colin Meloy Trey Anastasio Jenny Lewis Dave Grohl Cat Stevens Sturgill Simpson Justin Vernon Cat Power Jackson Browne Michael Stipe Philip Glass Jónsi Ásgeir Trausti Hozier Regina Carter Asaf Avidan Valerie June Conor Oberst Courtney Barnett Pokey LaFarge Kate Tempest Ian MacKaye Lucinda Williams Josh Ritter Chris Thile Leon Bridges Sharon Van Etten Fantastic Negrito

  3. 5 out of 5

    Debi G.

    It's my fault. I didn't examine the book closely enough when I bought it, so I was anticipating essays from musicians about the songs that sparked their journeys as songwriters. I was even hopeful that I could use a few of these non-existent essays as models or mentor texts for my students. Alas, I can not review the book I was hoping for, I must review the book I actually read. Boilen is bona fide. He lives and breathes music, and he has done so for decades. He embodies fandom with access. I th It's my fault. I didn't examine the book closely enough when I bought it, so I was anticipating essays from musicians about the songs that sparked their journeys as songwriters. I was even hopeful that I could use a few of these non-existent essays as models or mentor texts for my students. Alas, I can not review the book I was hoping for, I must review the book I actually read. Boilen is bona fide. He lives and breathes music, and he has done so for decades. He embodies fandom with access. I thoroughly enjoy Tiny Desk Concerts, and I found the arcane trivia and nostalgia of this book interesting. I reveled in the introduction, and liked learning more about Boilen's professional pathways and personality. But I didn't intend to buy a book about Bob Boilen. Each chapter presents a recording artist as filtered through Boiler's fan goggles. The author's voice drowns out those of the artists he titles chapters for; consequently, the project seems self-indulgent. My preference-- though it has fallen out of vogue, particularly where music and journalism intersect-- is for writers of interview-based pieces to keep their shadows from eclipsing the subject of the spotlight's aim.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    The title is a tad misleading...However, one can see why the publisher ran with it: to wit, prominent musicians. The rest of 'em, your Conor Oberst or Sharon Van Etten are people I've vaguely heard of and whose music I've checked out, but they're by no means "beloved" outside of Pitchfork's sphere of influence. By the author's own admission, some of these people sell few albums. That being said, Your Song Changed My Life offers interesting insights into the creative process. I'm listening to som The title is a tad misleading...However, one can see why the publisher ran with it: to wit, prominent musicians. The rest of 'em, your Conor Oberst or Sharon Van Etten are people I've vaguely heard of and whose music I've checked out, but they're by no means "beloved" outside of Pitchfork's sphere of influence. By the author's own admission, some of these people sell few albums. That being said, Your Song Changed My Life offers interesting insights into the creative process. I'm listening to some of the artists as I write this, and trying to figure out how it is that Aretha Franklin factors into Cat Power's stuff. Power was incredibly moved as a young girl seeing a performance by the Queen of Soul from '64. Also wondering how Van Etten was influenced by PJ Harvey, as Taking Chances washes over me (great track). One criticism: there wasn't enough variety in the artists. Would've loved to have rappers or metal heads thrown in for good measure, but you can't fault the author for not straying from his comfort zone.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Burt

    Unfortunately I'd just finished John Doe's excellent Under The Big Black Sun before reading this so I can't help comparing the two. Where Doe basically hands over each chapter to L.A. punk artists and lets them write their own stories from their own perspectives, Boilen feels the need to force his own life experiences and thoughts into each artist's chapter over and over again. I get it. He created NPR's All Songs Considered, and I respect that. But how many times does he have to interject his o Unfortunately I'd just finished John Doe's excellent Under The Big Black Sun before reading this so I can't help comparing the two. Where Doe basically hands over each chapter to L.A. punk artists and lets them write their own stories from their own perspectives, Boilen feels the need to force his own life experiences and thoughts into each artist's chapter over and over again. I get it. He created NPR's All Songs Considered, and I respect that. But how many times does he have to interject his own personal history and life story and creative spin into the book? It's not like anyone is buying the book to hear about the record store he worked at (again & again). Just let the artists talk, they're capable of communicating on their own. The whole exercise comes off as egotistical. Also, some of the artists are just too obscure to be interesting. I'm a huge fan of indie/underground music but even I was bored by several featured artists. Definitely not something I'd recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Bob Boilen has written a timeless book. I can't wait to revisit these stories again and again and again. I was so excited for this book as soon as I found out about it sometime last year. I'm a longtime All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concert fan--I go to Bob Boilen for all my new music. After reading it, I can safely say that this is my new favorite book. I loved every single page, every single story. I’m working on a longer review that I’ll post closer to the release date, and I’m hoping tha Bob Boilen has written a timeless book. I can't wait to revisit these stories again and again and again. I was so excited for this book as soon as I found out about it sometime last year. I'm a longtime All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concert fan--I go to Bob Boilen for all my new music. After reading it, I can safely say that this is my new favorite book. I loved every single page, every single story. I’m working on a longer review that I’ll post closer to the release date, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to organize my thoughts and fangirling into something coherent. Just know this: it’s about how music has changed Boilen’s life as he is talking to musicians about the songs that changed their lives. It’s a labor of love and it’s flawless. If you like music, you need to read this book. Longer review is up on my blog! https://burntfiction.com/2016/04/11/y...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This book is as much about Bob Boilen as about the artists he interviews. He is a character in every chapter, either in his interaction with the singer or by presenting a bit of his own history. I found this a bit over the top. I enjoy the kind of writing I often see in Rolling Stone reviews, and I was expecting that here, but this has a little too much Boilen in it. I would have liked to see some additional popular artists here, instead of the large number of newer, alternative artists. Boilen This book is as much about Bob Boilen as about the artists he interviews. He is a character in every chapter, either in his interaction with the singer or by presenting a bit of his own history. I found this a bit over the top. I enjoy the kind of writing I often see in Rolling Stone reviews, and I was expecting that here, but this has a little too much Boilen in it. I would have liked to see some additional popular artists here, instead of the large number of newer, alternative artists. Boilen showcases these kinds of artists in his music series, so they are accessible to him. Overall, I did appreciate that the artists he interviewed came up with quite a few unexpected songs that they feel changed their lives. Most interesting – composer John Cage's homage to the Spike Jones and the City Slickers version of the William Tell Overture. That’s the Spike Jones with the sound effects and the rapid playing orchestra, who in this song tells the story of a horse race won by (view spoiler)[Beetlebaum (hide spoiler)] , imaginatively narrated by the aptly named Doodles Weaver. Yes, Mr. Cage, that’s a song I appreciate too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Langert

    I rushed to purchase this book as soon as it came out. I am a pretty avid music historian and I am a regular listener to Bob Boilen's podcast, All Songs Considered. As indicated by the 2-star rating, I was disappointed by this book. The book features 35 musical artists from different eras and musical genres. Some are very well known, others pretty obscure. The ideas behind the book sounds promising, but the stories that were told were not very interesting. Boilen clearly covered favorite artists o I rushed to purchase this book as soon as it came out. I am a pretty avid music historian and I am a regular listener to Bob Boilen's podcast, All Songs Considered. As indicated by the 2-star rating, I was disappointed by this book. The book features 35 musical artists from different eras and musical genres. Some are very well known, others pretty obscure. The ideas behind the book sounds promising, but the stories that were told were not very interesting. Boilen clearly covered favorite artists of his and injected himself and his opinions very heavily throughout the book. I would rather have heard more from the artists. The chapters are short and follow a pattern. I read a few chapters at a time throughout the past month in between reading lengthier novels. I forced my way to the end of this, as reading this became more of an endurance test than a source of entertainment. Bob Boilen is such an interesting guy. He knows his stuff and attends over 500 concert shows per year. This book does not represent his best work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Bob Boilen hosts All Songs Considered and the Tiny Desk Concert series on NPR. As such, he comes into contact with a lot of musicians. This book centers around inspiration. Nearly everyone who performs and/or composes for a living has a story about that one song, the one that made them realize, "I can do this," or, "That's it! That's what I want to do." Some artists--David Byrne, for instance--have trouble narrowing it down to one, and that's fine. Boilen isn't insistent on a definitive answer, Bob Boilen hosts All Songs Considered and the Tiny Desk Concert series on NPR. As such, he comes into contact with a lot of musicians. This book centers around inspiration. Nearly everyone who performs and/or composes for a living has a story about that one song, the one that made them realize, "I can do this," or, "That's it! That's what I want to do." Some artists--David Byrne, for instance--have trouble narrowing it down to one, and that's fine. Boilen isn't insistent on a definitive answer, but rather trying to spark a conversation. Through this book, we learn all sorts of fascinating bits of musical history. Some of the artists interviewed in this book are more well - known than others. I certainly didn't recognize all of them. As with many music books, you wish it came with a soundtrack. It would be so nice if, when a song is mentioned, you could actually hear that song. Most of these are probably findable online, but it's not quite the same as having them instantly to hand while reading. At the very least, you'll be taking notes of music to search for later.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Scarpa

    Not exactly the book it sells itself to be—more profiles of thirty-five artists ("beloved" is a stretch; hadn't heard of a handful of them) that often touch on influences. Rarely is it what the title and subtitle seem to imply: artists talking, in their own words, directly about formative experiences with music. That being said, it wasn't a terrible disappointment. I feel like I got a playlist of some songs/albums/artists to look up after reading; I learned that Bon Iver has an Indigo Girls lyri Not exactly the book it sells itself to be—more profiles of thirty-five artists ("beloved" is a stretch; hadn't heard of a handful of them) that often touch on influences. Rarely is it what the title and subtitle seem to imply: artists talking, in their own words, directly about formative experiences with music. That being said, it wasn't a terrible disappointment. I feel like I got a playlist of some songs/albums/artists to look up after reading; I learned that Bon Iver has an Indigo Girls lyric tattooed, which is kind of amazing; I learned that Josh Ritter was married to Dawn Landes; and I learned that Michael Stipe's favorite song is "Birdland" by Patti Smith, which may prove to be useful in my plan to get him to marry me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Full disclosure: I'm a fan and long time listener of Bob Boilen and his NPR All Songs Considered show/ podcast. I love his knowledge and passion for music and when I heard that he a book I bought it right away. I've pretty much heard of all the artists interviewed in the book and I'm a fan of many of them. The book is chock full of interesting music history, and Bob fills in some of the chapters with his knowledge of the influential songs and artists chosen by the subject artists in each chapter Full disclosure: I'm a fan and long time listener of Bob Boilen and his NPR All Songs Considered show/ podcast. I love his knowledge and passion for music and when I heard that he a book I bought it right away. I've pretty much heard of all the artists interviewed in the book and I'm a fan of many of them. The book is chock full of interesting music history, and Bob fills in some of the chapters with his knowledge of the influential songs and artists chosen by the subject artists in each chapter. I especially liked the Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Courtney Barnett, Dave Grohl, and Colin Meloy chapters. Colin Meloy's choice hit close to home as he chose Hüsker Dü's Candy Apple Grey as the album that opened his eyes. Read the book to find out why. This leads me to the fun part: the song that changed my life. Where I grew up there weren't many choices for music on the radio. You had pop music on WIXX out of Green Bay, hard rock/metal on WAPL out of Appleton, and country western playing on stations everywhere else on the dial it seemed. I was pretty much listening to pop until I started hearing more hard rock at parties I went to and started tuning in to the loud music on WAPL, which at the time played the likes of AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Krokus, Ozzy, Dokken, Tesla, Quiet Riot, Foreigner, Metallica, and others. When I got to college I was all about metal, and went to a number of concerts of the aforementioned bands. When I was a sophomore at the U of M, I started hanging out with a group of kids who were more into alternative rock. One of my friends who knew I was a metal head put in a cassette of one of the bands he liked and wanted me to hear it because he thought I would like it. The cassette was "Candy Apple Grey" by Hüsker Dü, and as soon as the first song, 'Crystal', started screaming through the speakers I knew I was going to like this band. Wow. The song was was an avalanche of noise, with my now favorite artist, Bob Mould, yelling the lyrics and lighting up his guitar as Grant drummed and Greg bounced along on the bass. As the cassette continued, the songs changed drastically from loud to soft to loud, and the vocals changed from Bob and Grant depending on who wrote which song. While 'Crystal' melted faces, the sad, acoustic 'Hardly Getting Over It' put a lump in your throat. It was such and interesting album, with all of its sonic twists and turns; such different styles of music on one cassette. Not long after hearing 'Crystal' and "Candy Apple Grey" I headed down to the record store in the basement of Coffman Union on the U of M campus and bought the other Hüsker Dü cassettes they had in stock. And to this day, I consider Bob Mould my favorite musician as the music on the albums he's made solo (13), with Hüsker Dü (6) and with band Sugar (3) have been the soundtrack to my life since that fateful day when my friend put "Candy Apple Grey" in his car's cassette deck.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea (formerly Amadeus)

    Bob Boilen wrote the book that I've been talking about writing for years: interviewing various musicians to determine what song changed their lives. I call Bob my musical spirit animal because he has lived the music life that I always wanted to: record store clerk, musician, podcast producer, music podcast host, writer, seeing 500 live acts a year. So I can't take it too personally that he took my idea. ;) As others have said, I expected him to be more of an editor of these interviews than to com Bob Boilen wrote the book that I've been talking about writing for years: interviewing various musicians to determine what song changed their lives. I call Bob my musical spirit animal because he has lived the music life that I always wanted to: record store clerk, musician, podcast producer, music podcast host, writer, seeing 500 live acts a year. So I can't take it too personally that he took my idea. ;) As others have said, I expected him to be more of an editor of these interviews than to combine them with his own experiences and reflections. But, this didn't really bother me. I love talking to others about music and music interviews and how others feel about music. The only suggestion I would have is to make the interviews public--perhaps on the All Songs Considered website--so we can listen to them as a companion to reading the book. I love the variety of musicians and enjoyed finding the common threads in their experiences and life-changing songs. In the words of The National, I relate to them as others who probably put "our arms around the stereo for hours". Bob Boilen loves music and loves the shared experience it can bring and it shows in this book. I would definitely read it again. As a final note, the song that changed my life? Well, I would almost say the whole album "The Joshua Tree". I've loved music since I can remember but most of my early years was enjoying what my parents introduced me to. But this was the first album I found on my own. It's hard to pick just one song because I listened to and loved the album over and over and over. But, I'd probably pick "One Tree Hill" (the song was before the the show, haha). Something about those lyrics and music resonates down into my DNA. It's a memorial song and also spoke to me how how music and lyrics transcend what we can see and speaks to and from the depths of our hearts. That album totally changed how I viewed music and spurred me on a passion for music that continues today.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cade

    I am very conflicted about this book. On one hand, there is some amazing, borderline life-changing stuff in here. For example, Boilen's interview with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney is still getting to me a week after I read it. Not all of the interviews are quite that tremendous, but they're all at least good. So in that sense, I heartily recommend this book if you want to hear some incredibly inspiring and moving stories about what got some excellent musicians into the business. There's a I am very conflicted about this book. On one hand, there is some amazing, borderline life-changing stuff in here. For example, Boilen's interview with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney is still getting to me a week after I read it. Not all of the interviews are quite that tremendous, but they're all at least good. So in that sense, I heartily recommend this book if you want to hear some incredibly inspiring and moving stories about what got some excellent musicians into the business. There's also definitely a side-benefit here of some good music recommendations. The problem with this book, however, is how Boilen formatted it. The essays aren't linked in any particular way, but Boilen constantly feels the need to draw connections to his own story that he discussed into the introduction to the book--and he feels the need to reexplain that he, for example, was in a band called Tiny Desk Unit back in the 70s. Every time. It's like he intended there to be a consistent narrative linking the interviews, but just never bothered to edit them together. I think that's probably what this book is missing most: an editor. However, it was still a great read and I got a lot out of it. Just don't read it all together in one week, some of the repetition will kill it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    C

    I absolutely love music. I love listening to people's stories about music, about the music that changed their lives, about the music that they love with every frayed fiber of their being. And I assumed that this book would be right up my alley. I had heard of (and enjoyed) nearly every one of these artists. What I hadn't heard of is Tiny Desk Unit - the author's band. By the end of the book, I had learned far far more about that band than I had any of the other performers "featured" in this book. I absolutely love music. I love listening to people's stories about music, about the music that changed their lives, about the music that they love with every frayed fiber of their being. And I assumed that this book would be right up my alley. I had heard of (and enjoyed) nearly every one of these artists. What I hadn't heard of is Tiny Desk Unit - the author's band. By the end of the book, I had learned far far more about that band than I had any of the other performers "featured" in this book. Why? The author brought every single piece in the book back to him, back to his personal history, back to his days in a record store, back to his band. To say that it became annoying is a huge, huge understatement. The worst part being that the reader doesn't in the end learn all that much about these artists and the songs that changed their lives. I just feel really disappointed in this one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ric Sierra

    I was disappointed in this book. I'm a fan of Boilen and All Songs Considered. I've discovered a lot of music through the podcast, and I thought the premise of this book had promise. While some of the chapters are interesting (Jeff Teedy, Jimmy Page, Sturgill Simpson, Lucinda Williams), many are just boring. Boilen injects himself too much into the musician's stories. Even the casual listener of the podcast knows he is infatuated with Jonsi, Lou Reed, Brian Eno - he doesn't need to remind us on p I was disappointed in this book. I'm a fan of Boilen and All Songs Considered. I've discovered a lot of music through the podcast, and I thought the premise of this book had promise. While some of the chapters are interesting (Jeff Teedy, Jimmy Page, Sturgill Simpson, Lucinda Williams), many are just boring. Boilen injects himself too much into the musician's stories. Even the casual listener of the podcast knows he is infatuated with Jonsi, Lou Reed, Brian Eno - he doesn't need to remind us on page after page. This shouldn't be his story (and oh how he repeats himself in chapter after chapter), this should be the story of fascinating artists. Bolien doesn't deliver on the title's promise. Still, a "C." It's an easy read and you can just skip some of the chapters and not miss a thing. The sum of the parts are less than the sum of the parts.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    Very cool to see some of the original creative inspiration behind some of the most revered artists in music. However, the book would often follow a pattern - "I sat down with this artist on their tour" + "they told me the song that changed their life and it was very surprising" + "after hearing the reasoning, it makes sense to me now". I also thought it was awkward when Boilen would integrate his personal music endeavors and experiences into the narratives, although he has done some cool things Very cool to see some of the original creative inspiration behind some of the most revered artists in music. However, the book would often follow a pattern - "I sat down with this artist on their tour" + "they told me the song that changed their life and it was very surprising" + "after hearing the reasoning, it makes sense to me now". I also thought it was awkward when Boilen would integrate his personal music endeavors and experiences into the narratives, although he has done some cool things in his career with NPR and Tiny Desk Unit. But with legends like Philip Glass, Jimmy Page and David Byrne mixed with modern stars St. Vincent, Dave Grohl, Leon Bridges, Cat Power and many more, the stories are inherently interesting to any fan of music.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I enjoyed the vignettes in this book just like I thought I would. Some were more interesting than I others. I especially loved that Michael Stipe was so influenced by bubblegum. Who'da thunk? ;-). But for the artists includes whose music I am very familiar with drawing the parallels was fascinating.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julia (Scout) Cooper

    An insightful look at the music and people of music that inspired what hear today. I loved the entire premise and was inspired to listen to a load of music new to me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sandee

    Being such a music fan myself, I found it absolutely delightful to read about the songs that "changed the lives" of some of my favorite artists. I was ecstatic to see who was interviewed here - Carrie Brownstein (my rock n roll girlfriend), Asif Avidan!!!!, Sharon Van Etten, Cat Power, Leon Bridges, St. Vincent, Cat Stevens...and I had to google Pokey Lafarge and was happy for the experience. I couldn't stop thinking about that pivotal moment for myself - it doesn't have to be your favorite song Being such a music fan myself, I found it absolutely delightful to read about the songs that "changed the lives" of some of my favorite artists. I was ecstatic to see who was interviewed here - Carrie Brownstein (my rock n roll girlfriend), Asif Avidan!!!!, Sharon Van Etten, Cat Power, Leon Bridges, St. Vincent, Cat Stevens...and I had to google Pokey Lafarge and was happy for the experience. I couldn't stop thinking about that pivotal moment for myself - it doesn't have to be your favorite song or your favorite band, but what was that monumental moment that a song "changed your life?" I was in eighth grade still loving my skating rink music - Stevie B, Susie Q, TKA (lots of letters!) when my friend Heather Knecht said one night during a sleepover "I want to play you this cool song I heard, I think you'll really like it." She had the cassette single of "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos (B-side was "Upside Down"). Needless to say, I never listened to music the same way again. I promptly bought the cassette on my eighth grade school trip and listened with intent and rapture to that tape over and over again. Thus began the journey to taping "120 minutes" on MTV every Sunday night to see what else I could discover. And those are still some of my favorite bands today (The Sundays, The Cure, Kristen Hersh, Belly etc.) Thanks Bob for letting me relive this life altering moment and that same beautiful moment for so many other artists I admire!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    Books like these are always such a treat. I spend a lot of time reading either gloomy fiction or depressing nonfiction about the state of the world, so I'm thankful for people like Bob Boilen and the host of musicians he interviews in this book. He's a great interviewer and writer, injecting just enough of his own personality into each profile while still letting the subject lead the way. Even with artists I didn't know or have an explicit personal connection with, it was so inspiring and enjoya Books like these are always such a treat. I spend a lot of time reading either gloomy fiction or depressing nonfiction about the state of the world, so I'm thankful for people like Bob Boilen and the host of musicians he interviews in this book. He's a great interviewer and writer, injecting just enough of his own personality into each profile while still letting the subject lead the way. Even with artists I didn't know or have an explicit personal connection with, it was so inspiring and enjoyable to see the myriad ways songs have touched people. Music's a beautiful thing and reading this book was like staring into that diamond 35 different ways.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Avery Legendre

    This book is very informative and entertaining to an extent. However, I found it challenging to stick it out to the end. Although interesting and contextually relevant at times, Bob Boilen’s opinions and weak concluding statements sometimes turned me off from fully enjoying the content of this book. I did learn a lot about various artists, their backgrounds, and some sprinkles of music history. I even felt inspired on occasion. For these reasons, I have no regrets.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Snem

    There is lots of diversity of music represented in here. I really enjoy hearing about people’s passions. It made me reflect on the songs that changed my own life. Music brings people together and some of the essays had surprising bits in them. There are some legends in here. The premise is great, but the execution left a lot to be desired. The author interjects his own stories and musical background in awkward and often arrogant ways. I wanted much more of the artists themselves in their own wor There is lots of diversity of music represented in here. I really enjoy hearing about people’s passions. It made me reflect on the songs that changed my own life. Music brings people together and some of the essays had surprising bits in them. There are some legends in here. The premise is great, but the execution left a lot to be desired. The author interjects his own stories and musical background in awkward and often arrogant ways. I wanted much more of the artists themselves in their own words and much less of the author. I recommend this only if you’re a big music buff and are a fan of the artists represented in here.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    I love reading books about music and musicians. I'm also a big fan of "All Songs Considered," so this one really interested me. It was very interesting to read about the songs that influenced many of the artists that I like. Yes, the book included quite a few musicians who I have never heard of, but I did enjoy the reading about their opinions too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    Great scope of artists interviewed by Bob Boilen, many who he has invited to NPR Music or has personal friendships.

  25. 5 out of 5

    The

    This is not what the title would lead you to believe. There is minimal firsthand contribution from the musicians. I think dude just wanted to say that he met these people.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert Gluck

    Love NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts and clearly Bob Boylen has a passion for music and an eye for up and coming talent. However, he's not a particularly good or insightful writer.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I enjoyed this book. At times it veered into musician technical geekiness which went over my head, but the stories of how the artists were inspired are great. I’m already planning my playlist based on it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book wasn't as I envisioned. Plus most of the artists in it were not familiar to me. And of the few that I did have interest in, the chapters were more like bios then what the title of the book implied.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Your Song Changed my Life is a fun exploration into the tunes that changes the lives of a very eclectic group of musicians. In each chapter Boilen sits down with a different musician and asks them to recount the song that changed their life and usually led them to become the musician that they are now. The choices are interesting and it's nice to see that some of the musicians are not huge household names. However for people who want to read about famous people there are plenty of those too. Fro Your Song Changed my Life is a fun exploration into the tunes that changes the lives of a very eclectic group of musicians. In each chapter Boilen sits down with a different musician and asks them to recount the song that changed their life and usually led them to become the musician that they are now. The choices are interesting and it's nice to see that some of the musicians are not huge household names. However for people who want to read about famous people there are plenty of those too. From St. Vincent talking about her obsession with Pearljam to Lucinda Williams waxing poetic about Bob Dylan, the book is a pretty fun time. Plus who doesn't want to hear Trey Anastasio from Phish talk about West Side Story of Michael Stipe discuss his love of bubblegum pop as a child.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dane Andersen

    This book supplied me with a diverse list of artists and songs to check out - some I have never heard of, some I have never taken the time to absorb, and some I previously would have scoffed off were it not for the open-minded and enthusiastic tastes of Bob Boilen. In that way, it's much like listening to All Songs Considered. My main takeaway from "Your Song Changed My Life" is that musical inspiration can come from anywhere, and you shouldn't be judged or embarrassed by the music you grew up w This book supplied me with a diverse list of artists and songs to check out - some I have never heard of, some I have never taken the time to absorb, and some I previously would have scoffed off were it not for the open-minded and enthusiastic tastes of Bob Boilen. In that way, it's much like listening to All Songs Considered. My main takeaway from "Your Song Changed My Life" is that musical inspiration can come from anywhere, and you shouldn't be judged or embarrassed by the music you grew up with. It doesn't represent your personality; it represents a catalyst to the development of your personality, sending you down this road and that, setting off a never ending chain of connections that leads you to your own unique artistic style.

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