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High Times Hard Times Paperback – August 1, 2004
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--Jim Christy, (Toronto) Globe and Mail
"...in the tradition of the best jazz autobiographies...a fascinating travelogue through the jazz world, filled with vivid images of Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday...Her prose is as hip as her music." - The New York Times Book Review --The New York Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
An interesting part of the book is the background,where the authors painted a realistic portrait of a single parent household in the depression ;Anita's mother was one of the coldest I can recall- although not outright abusive, she was just not capable of warmth period.Readers will find a rare look at the show business of the Depressin 30's where Anita cut her teeth in the walkathon circuit. This arena has not been covered to death in memoirs- a large swatch of the public, looking for cheap live entertainment, went to traveling shows of a sort - a cross between vaudeville and the circus I suppose, where a living could be made by show biz aspirants , by marathon dancing.This was tough stuff.
I find that Anita's passion for jazz- song styling- is immense, it is essentially the the only beacon in her long rough and tumble life.She is able to articulate just what it is that she is learning all along the way. Never commercial, she was a true non-diva bohemian. The 14 year heroin addiction is a sad story- but it goes right along with the program. After two jail stints and upon discovering a tea-totalling religious fanatic that has one small caveat ( he only likes things he can inject with a hypo), Anita figures- I got the name, why not play the game? She figured it would keep the cirrosis at bay.Read more ›
The writing style is so open and conversational, if not outright confessional, that at times, it feels as if, I am sitting at a bar stool, in one of the great old jazz clubs, on a rainy afternoon, Anita herself telling me her stories directly. So genuine is the voice that jumps off of the pages.
Pulling no punches on those she comments on, herself included. Told with a great sense of humor, even in the dark moments. When self pity creeps in, she calls it for what it is. Touching and sympathetic at times, as well, the Judy Garland episode particularly comes to mind.
I am amazed at how many names of my long favorites that I had not connected with her before, she herself cites as sources of inspiration. Zoot Sims being a strong case in point.
If you are already a fan, it is a must read. If you are not, but are interested in Jazz at all, read the book, then seek out and devour the Anita O'Day catalogue. Track down the Mosaic box set if you can.
While Ella and Sarah, "may" have had better voices according to some. Few would argue for the consistancy of their catalogues when compared to Anita O'Day's. Her book mirrors the consistancy of her catalogue, while giving her reader, the clearest and most open view "behind the looking glass", likely to found, of the Jazz era, and it's players, great and small.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OMG! This book is wonderfully companionable and, as other reviewers have stated, conversational in tone. This picaresque autobiography covers Ms. Read morePublished 8 months ago by George Smith
This isn't a match for Art and Laurie Pepper's "Straight Life" but it is nevertheless a fascinating account of another troubled jazz artist. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ramsey Campbell
Item arrived in great condition. It took a little time to get to me, but everything was fine.Published 9 months ago by NY Werewolf
I love this book! It gives u a glimpse into the life of (in my opinion) the best female jazz singers life.Published 10 months ago by Terri
What a read! Ms. O'Day shies away from nothing. This is an interesting read and certainly for those that have an interest in jazz.Published 13 months ago by Ann Host