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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This engaging story has terrific, well-developed, believable and even inspiring characters, realistic, touching relationships, and nice plotting. I enjoyed the story about the pop/rock music I grew up with; like the author, I admire great songwriting and creativity, not just covering other musicians' work.

The book would benefit tremendously from a good editing job, though, to eliminate grammar and syntax issues, to clean up awkward sentences, to use more action verbs and vivid descriptions. I wanted to fix the punctuation in the worst way!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As an audiophile I must say I really enjoyed this book. It is an engaging read which takes you on a wonderfully crafted journey through a boy's life, his love of music, and the joys and tribulations he reaps due to his dedication to his craft. Stu, a typical suburban boy grows up to be an atypical rock star, Dylan, and along the way deals with all the ins and outs of becoming successful in the music business with his band the Overture. I found myself continuing to read as I eagerly wanted to know what each new chapter in Stu's multifaceted life would bring, including the eventual waning of his fame and career as the music industry changed around him and how he would handle it. This is a wonderful book which sucks you in and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end, having read about a life well lived with purpose and grace.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Any parent having a teenager interested in music will find this book engaging, entertaining and helpful as will
any teenager interested in music, especially a guitar. It is a lovely story of a teenager struggling to become
successful and a celebrity forming a band and playing his guitar. The author is truly a story teller who weaves
a wonderful, heart warming story that takes you on a memorable journey full of love, joy and some sorrow.
A Wonderful Song is a wonderful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The plot of a novel is like a tree. The trunk is the central idea, or perspective or topic, while the roots are the subplots, gathering nutrients from the soil/characters. It's a rather bizarre metaphor, but the question always guides me: is the novel built like a tree?

"A Beautiful Song" by Michael Cantwell, a self-published ebook, 2011, mirrors the metaphor. The main plot centers on a young musician and his rise to fame. The point-of-view is told, bravely, in the first person. But the first person perspective tone is objective, more than literary, which I appreciated. The novel reads more like a diary, albeit not a personal and flowery one. The prose is, simply, a factual representation of Stu's world during the late 60s into the present time. It's told with a solid and attractively cool voice.

Stuart Patrick Edrich is a young man who loves music and is fascinated by a music store, run by Gordy Davis ("the most famous person I ever met..") Gordy is part music man, part mystic, part teacher, part Father figure. It is Gordy who influences Stu and Stu's father, a stern individual, to give the boy guitar lessons. Gordy has another direction to send Stu as well: to God, intuition and humble thanksgiving for the special musical gift not given to everyone. Gordy says to Stu, for example, "learn Silent Night by our next lesson with no sheet music." It is Gordy who assures the young Stu: "You are on earth for a reason." And the reason comes full circle in the novel, to teach Stu and to teach us.

Soon, Stu learns how to build a song, and then begins to play at local events, until, finally, he is accepted to The Julliard School of Music. Here is where the roots begin to grow. He meets the people who will stay with him all his life. Stu keeps the strong faith, given to him by Gordy. He is a model student, who walks away from the drug culture and takes the exemplary path.

Eventually, after graduation, and with help of his agent, Carl, he starts a rock group, called Dylan James and the Overtures. Stu always liked Bob Dylan and the soul of James Brown, hence the new name Dylan James. With astounding insight, the author speaks through Stu/Dylan to explain the ins-and-outs of the music industry. The classic ups and downs are explained in a very believable manner. I don't know if the author lived in the music world, but his descriptions resonated real to me.

But, the strong faith and courage to hope are soon put to two gigantic tests. This is the pivotal part of the plot, one that brings reality into Stu's world and puts him in a battle between despair and salvation. The final resolution to the tug-of-war battle is the balance of the narrative.

The author is careful not to sugar coat his plot too much. The reader first suspects the world of Stu/Dylan is too dreamy, too filled with Dickensian coincidence, to hold one through to the end of the novel. Then, the great karma hammer comes down and all is changed. Like Dante in Purgatory, the post-glitter Stu must walk through turmoil, rejection and confusion, instead of fame, happiness and success.

To me, it's the careful juxtaposition of these two spinning plates that make the novel fascinating. One wants to read faster, to feel the spiral down of the main character, and how it affects the roots of this existence.

Stuart is a likable character, and the world which he inhabits is of interest to us. But, like the tree and its roots, there is more here than music and life on the road. There are acid tests along the way which can either allow one to grow, or can leave one crushed on the side of that road.

On a personal note, I experienced catharsis to read about a character who, like me, grew up in the Philadelphia/Princeton area, was an altar boy, went to Wildwood, New Jersey for the summer and enjoyed "I Love Lucy" on TV. The rocks groups Stu meets along the way, like Pete Townsend's "The Who" and "The Grateful Dead" were my musical heroes too, while song from The Beatles and Cream, which dot his live performances, were my lullabies as well.

If you need to escape into a past you've forgotten, to live among friends who are true and loyal and quirky, pick up a copy of "A Beautiful Song" on your Kindle or at Amazon. I guarantee the experience will be a harmonious one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Written with a raw sense of humor and a touch of naivety, the author tells a story that winds you through the trials and tribulations of life's journey from boy to man. Stu's life unravels on a path as he yearns to understand and balance his family, friends, and the true love of his life: music. A very wholesome read with self respect and deep thought provoking feelings. From one musician to another... well done!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. The boy becomes a man and deals with all the knocks life throws at him. His hard exterior hides a softness within and his relationships along the way draw the reader's attention to the highs and lows of the life of a dedicated musician. A very good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As a classical musician this book was painful to read. The inaccuracies were easily avoided with a little research and would have greatly improved this book. The author obviously has never visited Juilliard or bothered to interview anyone who went there. Every time he mentioned the campus (Lincoln Center?), the dorms (in the 70's the closest thing to dorms was the residential Y), the many accounting classes (funny), the requirement to play guitar in the orchestra (standard orchestras do not have guitars), being offered a teaching job at graduation at Juilliard (absolutely no way) it made me cringe. No one could make it through even a year at a music school and still refer to all classical music as "songs". I could go on for a long time talking about the realities of playing in pit orchestras for Broadway shows etc. but I've made my point. I enjoyed the story but I couldn't get past the lack of realistic descriptions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Beginning at Stu's youth and covering everything from his familial situation, his parents roles, his schooling and where he spent his leisure time (at Gordy's music shop) this story portrays a coming of age, from youth and folly to adulthood and it's trials and tribulations.

Stu gradually makes it through school, and through Juliard then becomes the professional musician he was aspiring to be, but he appears to have forgotten Gordy's point of advice `don't lose your soul'.

After a successful run as a recording and live act, his band `Dylan James and the Overture', slowly fades into stereotypical obscurity. Purportedly taking place (mostly) in the late 70's to early / mid-80's many familiar names are dropped - Springsteen, Elvis, Hendrix Experience, etc.

Along with the slow fade comes a series of crushing blows which Stu recounts as the beginning of his bad luck and loss of faith. Struggling through the results of a semi-debilitating car accident, having had become an addict to pills and then becoming a widower Stu's faith is tested greatly, and his friends no longer recognize him as the person he used to be. And all of this on top of his efforts to remain involved in the ever changing music business (contracts, band strife, managerial issues, royalty battles and trying to remain relevant).

Stu struggles, oftentimes in what appears futility, to turn his life back around. Gradually, with acceptance of the circumstances and the power of positive thinking he appears to have set himself up for reconstitution.

A good story, but not particularly well written. The entirety is written in first person narrative, which makes the entire faux autobiography very woody in it's dialogue, often appearing to lack affect and coming off as glossy and superficial in it's portrayal of the potentialities of the joy and sorrow to be experienced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed the storyline of this relatively short book which succinctly told a creative long story. However, I thought it was told without much emotion resulting in somehwat flat characters. It was almost as if I was reading a newspaper report rather than a novel. It left me with a rushed feeling, as if the author wanted to make sure he fit in all the events he'd planned. Not by any means a bad book and overall a nice story but might be room for improvement on future endeavors.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
I throughly enjoyed this wonderfully written book. It was so well written that I could believe I was standing with Stu and experiencing the life with him. I smiled with pride for his accomplishments, I felt his anger and I felt his pain. I highly recommend this story to everyone, ever.
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