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His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John Paperback – April 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Billboard Books; First Paperback Printing edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823088928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823088928
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Rosenthal, a freelance writer, here attempts only the second serious biography of the bespectacled pianist (after Philip Norman's Elton John, LJ 2/1/92) and the first to include significant critical analysis of the star's music. As a biographer, Rosenthal relies exclusively on secondary sources to cobble together John's story, risking the perpetuation of inaccuracies. She also presents an assembly line of factoids but fails to give the reader a broader understanding of the man. As a critical analysis of John's music, the book is more successful, but here, too, are puzzling inconsistencies. Rosenthal takes pains to discuss every album track John has recorded in his 30-plus-year career, yet she ignores the plethora of nonalbum B-sides that he has released on singles a significant oversight. Oddly, the author devotes considerable space to lesser-known songs and only two sentences to "Your Song," arguably John's most beloved composition. Still, as a secondary selection, Rosenthal's well-meaning work is vastly superior to Susan Crimp and Patricia Burstein's The Many Lives of Elton John (Birch Lane Pr., 1992). Despite being dated, Norman's book remains the most definitive account. Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Documentation rather than biography is the raison d'etre of new books on aging rock superstars.Rosenthal on Elton John details all one could ever want to know about the intricacies of, say, "The Bitch Is Back." Copiously annotated, the dense recording-by-recording study comprises a full discography with some lamentable limitations; all songs and composers are listed, but none of the sidemen who played with John on recordings. Entertaining yet meaningful, disposable yet probably significant, John's continued popularity seems to guarantee readers for this good source of information on the working aspects of a career so voluminous that people will be serious about it, even if most of the songs are little more than Paul McCartney's "silly love songs." Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Elizabeth J. Rosenthal's current book is Birdwatcher: the Life of Roger Tory Peterson (Lyons Press). Out in time for the Centenary of Peterson's birth in 2008, Birdwatcher is now available in paperback. For Birdwatcher, the author interviewed 116 people from around the world who knew Peterson at different stages of his life. Through these interviews and extensive archival research, Rosenthal presents in Birdwatcher a thorough portrait of Peterson, one of the greatest conservationists of the Twentieth Century - as well as an accomplished artist, photographer, writer, teacher, and adventurer, and the man who made modern birding possible. Roger Tory Peterson's influence has spanned generations, not to mention the world. Among others, he mentored or inspired Pete Dunne, Kenn Kaufman, Victor Emanuel, Tom Lovejoy, even Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist and author E. O. Wilson, plus many other great names in birding, conservation, and natural history. You will read about their fascinating experiences with Peterson in Birdwatcher.

The author's first book, His Song: the Musical Journey of Elton John, was published in fall 2001 by Billboard Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications. As the most well-researched, exhaustive musical biography of musician Elton John ever written, His Song remains the only John biography to have been sold in the Elton John Store at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, during his hugely successful Red Piano run of shows. His Song is also the first John biography to be translated into the Russian language and sold in Russia.

But let's back up a minute to author Elizabeth J. Rosenthal's early years.
After graduating magna cum laude with a journalism degree from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1982, Rosenthal attended Rutgers-Camden School of Law, from which she graduated With Honors in 1985. Subsequently, she was admitted to the bars of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1986, she married Stanley Shur, another Rutgers-Camden graduate. For the past 20-plus years, Rosenthal has been a civil servant, writing regulations for New Jersey state government, testifying before the state legislature about pending legislation affecting the civil service system, and serving as liaison to the State Attorney General's Office.

In 2002, Rosenthal inexplicably became bewitched by birds, since then reading everything about them that she could get her hands on and going birding - with New Jersey Audubon and other groups - whenever possible. Like many of her birding compatriots, while driving she pays more attention to starlings flitting overhead than to traffic signs and usually extracts more joy from a simple encounter with an immature grackle than from a more prolonged encounter with immature or mature humans. The New Jersey home she shares with her husband is surrounded by birdfeeders frequented by loyal patrons. Rosenthal's life list may be modest, but her admiration of even the most common of birds is unassailable.

Customer Reviews

This book is a must for fans.
In reality, this is just a fan?s attempt at a biography, quoting the sources, but offering no interpretation.
Steve King
Altoghether, the book is well written and contains some very good facts about the musical legend.
J.R.R. Tyler Tolkien

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gary Gardner on November 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Seeing as Elton John's career in popular music has been going strong for well over thirty years, it is easy to see why there are so many biographies about him. And why not? After all, John has always been an artist of unusual candor, not to mention unusual stage uniforms running from the trashy to the just-plain garish. But the music has always been the main thing, the reason his fans throughout the years still pay good money to see him, even at the ripe old age of 54.
Elizabeth Rosenthal's take on Elton revolves predominantly on the music in this lastest John biography. Those looking for fresh perspectives behind the man, rather than the performer, will be disappointed; certainly those more interested in the recording and performing parts of Elton's life will be most thrilled.
In fact, some of the more interesting items about E.J.'s off-stage life are given short shrift, indeed. Rosenthal hardly mentions the musician's public and private tiffs with his father, his early struggle with his dubious sexuality, or even his renowned drinking/drugging binges...and subsequent recovery in the early 1990's. Only scant mention is made of these life stories, which for better or worse have molded the man into what he is today. Many of the quotes you see (and they are few and far between) are ones given many years ago to other publications. Apparently, Rosenthal had the pleasure of meeting the singer in Atlanta, GA, where he makes his American home, but was apparently not able to interview him.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott N. Burton on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book today & all I can say is "WOW"-Elizabeth Rosenthal did an enormous amount of research & it shows-Rosenthal is undoubtedly a major fan who fortunately paints a rather convincing portrait of Elton John-Here you read about his various triumphs (gold & platinum records,a sell-out cross country tour with Billy Joel in 1994)& tragedies (the deaths of fashion designer Gianni Versace & Princess Diana,which both occurred in 1997)-The appendix lists a complete discography of every single & album that Elton has released during his monumental career-This is a great Christmas present to give someone who likes Elton John just as much as I do.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"His Song" is an impressive attempt at a biography of Elton John, using his album and single releases as a guide.

It appears to be exhaustively researched and is clearly a labor of love for the author.

I feel it does a good job of describing those dizzying, heady days of the early 70's. The author is meticulous about recording the various band members, release dates, important concerts...all thoroughly footnoted.

It's just not written very well, and is so effusive in praise that by the end of the book, you as the reader have become numb to it.

It's fairly repetitious. An example: She refers to the single, "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" as "thrilling."

Whether or not you happen to agree (of ALL his singles, THAT'S the "thrilling" one? Uh, no.), it does reveal a laziness in vocabulary when she uses that adjective for that single more than once.

It got to the point where I started to blow off every mention of Elton's "pianism."

What's a "chewy" melody? Is that good or bad? She uses even THAT adjective more than once, specifically to describe a melody.

Listen, I'm not asking for objectivity. Anyone who writes a biography always has an agenda. The author must find the subject fascinating, interesting...they either love or hate the subject...whatever. Bias doesn't bother me.

Blind faith does, though. There's no perspective. When she describes how unpredictably great he was in the 70's, I totally believed her. I listened to every album right before I read about it...which is a pretty cool experience, by the way.

Anyways, when she equates some of his lesser, later work with those early albums, it denigrates those older ones. It doesn't brighten his star, it dims it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jack Suslak on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There have only been a few books that have really looked into the Man, the Artist and the Legend that Elton John is. The earlier book by Philip Norman on Elton John was a fairly good book, but what he did in his updated version, which came out in 2000,was updated but in such a distasteful way with only 15 pages to cover to what was a very fruitful period for Elton from 1991-1999. But this new book by Elizabeth Rosenthal has over 100 pages on the same timeframe. The book is so current that she even has a complete track listing for Elton's most recent Album Songs From The West Coast released this month. But Rosenthal unlike Norman is a true Elton Fan who has seen him numerous times and has a huge collection of Elton stuff. The book is informative yet easy to read even to non die hard fans. She talks about practically every song from every album. The many tours that Elton has done over the years are mentioned with a lot of information like what songs were in that tours set list. And if the tour featured some bad moments she isn?t afraid to divulge what happened no matter how negative. Elton has had an incredible amount of success on the billboard charts and HIS SONG does an incredible job of recording that with every single and album has its full charting info. It evens mentions how a few songs should have been hits. Elton has been in numerous television programs, done countless interviews, and has had many reviews of his recorded work and live appearances. Liz has gone through that vast body of stuff and that what makes that book so informative because due to that work it makes that part of Elton come out clear to the reader. Elton's lyrics have been very interesting over the years so Rosenthal points out excerpts to many songs to give a feel of the song.Read more ›
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