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Piano Girl: Lessons in Life, Music, and the Perfect Blue Hawaiian Paperback – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: BACKBEAT BOOKS; 1ST edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879308249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879308247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,229,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Goldsby regales readers with stories from her 30 years as a cocktail lounge pianist in this vivacious memoir. Starting out in dreary roadhouse bars and motels during the 1970s, Goldsby eventually worked her way up to tonier venues: the Marriott Marquis and the Grand Hyatt in New York City, a posh resort in Haiti, castles in Europe. Along the way there were false starts—an audition for the circus, a few months singing in an ill-fated all-girl nightclub act, a stint as a piano-playing stripper. It's all the stuff of comedy for Goldsby, who has a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for the absurd. Playing in a bar is great, she figures, because she can watch the never-ending show on the other side of the piano: the celebrities, nobodies, drunks, tipsy matrons, stalkers, music lovers and music haters, and a rogues' gallery of colorful misfits. She even finds humor in her replacement at the New York Marriott—a mannequin seated at a player-piano. She also has a touching affection for her assorted co-workers, who include a waiter who charms everyone with his "tragic optimism" after having been diagnosed with AIDS, a restroom attendant who sells designer dresses out of a toilet stall for the handicapped and a waitress whom Goldsby inspires to start her own career as a pianist. This is a bighearted, funny, truly eye-opening memoir. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Robin Meloy Goldsby has played cocktail piano for thirty years. In addition to her 5-star experiences in New York City hotel bars and her no star experiences in small regional cocktail lounges, Ms. Goldsby's musical adventures have taken her to exclusive island resorts, third world countries, and to the castles in Europe where she currently performs. Robin has recorded two solo piano CDs: Somewhere in Time and Twilight.

Customer Reviews

Robin Meloy Goldsby's PIANO GIRL is a treasure!
Paula T. Williams
It will leave a personalized imprint on every reader who ventures in, regardless of whether you came for the music or just for the meal.
Marilu B. Enterline
I'm waiting for the release of the soundtrack . . . along with the movie.
Liz Zweifler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Like the good old Barbra Streisand staple, Robin Meloy Goldsby shares with us the memories that light the corners of her mind, and true to the lyrics, it's the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember this personal and funny autobiography.

Beginning her working career as a waitress, the author's inability to balance food and beverages without causing grievous bodily harm quickly prompted a switch to another occupation. When practice sessions on the piano at the Club Car lead to an offer to play for the patrons five nights a week, Ms. Goldsby exchanges her hair net for beach-blanket Barbie attire, and delights the audience with her collection of 12 songs and her "fake book" which is used when you need to bluff your way through a musical request.

Eventually, tube tops evolve into cocktail dresses, and cocktail lounges become ritzy hotel lobbies, luxury island resorts and even castles, but Ms. Goldsby continues to amaze and amuse with her observations from the business side of the piano.

Designing agents, questionable bookings and embarrassing situations are all described here in glorious detail, but above all, the colorful, eccentric and certifiably crazy characters encountered make for an enjoyable reading experience.

It's obvious that if Ms. Goldsby had the chance to do it all again, she certainly would.

Amanda Richards, March 10, 2008
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Parsons TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Piano Girl" is a seamlessly crafted, incredibly entertaining memoir that tells the story of one woman's journey from The Club Car in Nantucket to the castles of Europe with stops just about everywhere in between, all the while seated at a piano and playing music to enhance the experience for whoever is there to listen (or not listen!). Goldsby has a wonderfully conversational writing style, and her tales are often laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes poignant, and always abundantly human. Along with her recollections of adventures, big and small, are portraits of many of the characters she has met along the way, providing a rich and very satisfying read whether or not you play the piano.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Ciaffardini VINE VOICE on July 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
You won't learn anything technical about piano playing from reading this book, nor is there an abundance of great profundity, but darn if I didn't breeze right through this book, not missing a beat and enjoying every page.

Here's how it is: Imagine meeting a smart, attractive woman at a party, learning she makes a respectable living playing piano in lounges, lobbies and private parties around the world, and finding that she can tell charming, frequently quite funny stories about her most memorable adventures and misadventures plying her trade, dealing with a colorful mix of memorable clients, bosses, co-workers and weirdos.

Never boring, this woman--with her compelling yin-yang mix of insecurity, spunk, humbleness and bravado--knows how to tell a bright, tight story, keeping things light-hearted with her sharp sense of irony, but grounded in a passion for her work and the artistry she struggles to refine, understand and appreciate amidst the jumble and chatter of cocktail hours and an audience that may or may not be listening to the witty nuances (or occasional stumbles) of craft she shares with the world.

If you think you'd enjoy spending a few hours with that kind of woman--content in knowing she's never going home with you and that her most intimate and revealing stories are bound to be reserved for that someone very special who is not you--then you will likely enjoy this book as I have. And from ever on you will feel a special connection when you come across a piano girl plying her art. You will be one of those who listens in a knowing way, having a special respect for her work, respect she deserves and will likely truly appreciate.

(And don't forget to make note of the Piano Girl's large brandy snifter tip jar: It's for no-obligation cash, not damp napkins with your hotel room number scrawled on it!)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Piano Girl: Lessons In Life, Music And The Perfect Blue Hawaiian is Robin Meloy Goldsby's entertainting and occasionally mesmerizing memoir, tracing her "accidental" career as a cocktail lounge piano player. Her calling took her across the globe, from exclusive island resorts to third-world countries, and her story offers both musical insights into the art of piano playing and the life lessons she encountered on her unlikely path. Piano Girl also recounts the varied character of her audience, from the rich and famous to the down and out and everyone in between. Individual vignettes perfectly capture timeless moments in this enthralling and honest personal story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gabrielle K. Silva on July 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a fantastic creation from Robin Meloy! I kept sneaking off to read another chapter. It's a beautiful portrayal of the life that can be made from a talent in music, and a grand love of life. She really captured the essence and magic of bringing live music to people. As a jazz singer and piano player myself, I felt elevated back into the best of the experience. Lots of laughs too! Gabrielle Silva
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill Brent on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
What's most remarkable about this memoir is Robin Goldsby's singular and life-embracing voice. Goldsby chronicles her dilemmas with candor, wit, and just enough self-deprecation that she wins the reader's sympathy without ever straying into annoying self-pity. While her situation is not unique - it's yet another variation on the classic struggling-artist-in-Manhattan story - she reveals herself in such insightful, self-knowing detail that she lifts this tale far beyond the banal recitation it could have been. At its best, this memoir is an unforgettable recounting of the crazy situations one endures or embraces in order to survive as an imaginative spirit in a mercenary world. (My personal favorite was Goldsby's ecstatic description of dress-shopping at "Stall for the Handicapped," a clandestine boutique run by an audacious and unusually enterprising restroom attendant in the tony hotel where they both worked.) I dare any reader not to recognize himself or a loved one in at least one of Goldsby's many predicaments.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

'Goldsby has seen it all from her piano and she dishes it up with a true storyteller's gusto. As refreshing as a frozen daiquiri . . .' Jeff Yanc, Book Sense Picks and Notables

Pianist, composer, and author Robin Meloy Goldsby mesmerizes listeners with her three solo piano CDs: Somewhere in Time, Songs from th Castle and Twilight. The recordings
frame Goldsby's career as a pianist in some of the world's finest hotels and restaurants.

Goldsby's first book, Piano Girl: A Memoir, made its hardcover debut in spring, 2005. The book presents a collection of autobiographical short stories' some funny, some poignant'that explore the life of a working musician. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, hailed Piano Girl as 'big-hearted, funny, truly eye-opening memoir.'

Book Sense, the leading organization representing independent bookstores in the United States, chose Piano Girl, now available in paperback, as one of the 'Picks of the Summer, 2006.'

Goldsby has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered, the Leonard Lopate Show in New York City, and the Mark Farrell Show on CD 101.9. Recently she taped two installments of Marian McPartland's NPR Piano Jazz, which aired in October 2006 and December 2007. Marian McPartland says, 'Piano Girl is certainly one of the funniest books I've ever read.'

Robin performs live, in a variety of settings. Her performances in the past year have included a reading and concert in the rotunda at Steinway Hall in Manhattan, a performance at the Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival, a reading at the Bechstein Concert Hall in Cologne Germany, and an Advent Concert in Candlelight at Schlosshotel Lerbach, a beautiful castle and 5-star hotel in the hills of Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, where she appears regularly.

A cocktail-lounge pianist for 30 years, Goldsby worked her way through Chatham College, an elite women's school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by playing piano in local hotel lounges and roadhouse bars. After moving to New York City in 1980, she began playing in many of Manhattan's leading hotels where she cultivated her skills and captivated audiences with her unique musical style. In addition to her five-star experiences in New York City and her no-star gigs in small regional lounges, Goldsby's musical adventures have taken her to exclusive island resorts, Third World countries, and the castles in Europe where she currently performs.

Goldsby's second book, a novel called RHYTHM was published in October 2008: Meet teenage drummer Jane Bowman. She's fifteen, funny, and wounded by the loss of her famous percussionist mother. Robin Meloy Goldsby's touching and humorous coming-of-age musical odyssey invites us to tap our toes in time to Jane's powerful music'cheering her on as she mends her shattered heart, finds her groove, and discovers the tragic beauty of human resilience.

'Goldsby, who marries the pathos of her plot line with the whimsy and near-magical-realism of her characters, deserves comparison with John Irving, a modern master.'
Marion Winik, NPR commentator and author of First Comes Love

'Rhythm conveys the magic of sound plus the transformative power of music, and the words'like a well-played melody'ring true.'
Peter Erskine, drummer and author of Time Awareness for All Musicians

Robin is married to jazz bassist John Goldsby. They have two children, and live near Cologne Germany.