Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Based on his long-running Wall Street Journal column, Myers has compiled a history of 45 classic songs, spanning the period from the early 50s to the early 90s. Featuring "you are there" interviews with the composers, the producers, and the musicians themselves, Myers teases out little-known and surprising details that will send you back to your hi-fi for a fresh listen. At the very least, you will never again be able to listen to the opening riff of Proud Mary without thinking of a certain German composer and his most famous symphony!

— From Peter


Writer and music historian Marc Myers brings to life five decades of music in Anatomy of a Song, based on the popular ongoing Wall Street Journal column, through oral histories of forty-five transformative songs woven from interviews with the artists who created them.

Taking readers inside the making of a hit, Anatomy of a Song includes Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Joni Mitchell remembers living in a cave on Crete with the "mean old daddy" who inspired her 1971 hit "Carey," while Elvis Costello talks about writing "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" on a train to Liverpool. Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Smokey Robinson, Grace Slick, Mavis Staples, Steven Tyler, the Clash, Merle Haggard, Bonnie Raitt, Debbie Harry, and many other leading artists reveal the inspirations, struggles, and techniques behind their influential works. Covering the history of rock, R&B, country, disco, soul, reggae and pop, Anatomy of a Song is a love letter to the songs that have defined several generations of listeners.

About the Author

Marc Myers is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, where he writes about rock, soul, and jazz, as well as the arts. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Why Jazz Happened and posts daily at, a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's award for Blog of the Year.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780802127181
ISBN-10: 0802127185
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: November 21st, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English