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Three Chords for Beauty's Sake: The Life of Artie Shaw Hardcover – May 3, 2010
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Absorbing… fascinating. (David Gates - The New York Times Book Review)
Nolan reconsiders the swing clarinetist-bandleader in a beautifully measured, unforgiving account… An exemplary work of jazz biography. (Kirkus Reviews)
Every great artist deserves a great biography, and Swing Era bandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw finally has one… Nolan has crafted a well-written, highly entertaining, and informative biography. (Library Journal)
Enthralling… [Nolan] gives the satisfactions of a true rags-to-riches story, complete with the spice of glamorous marriages and flings (with Lee Wiley, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, etc.), and plausibly accounts for Shaw’s huge character faults without obscuring his charm and prodigious talent. (Booklist)
Tom Nolan has a great story to tell and he knows precisely how to tell it, fast and deadpan, abetted by the irascible Shaw himself―a serial husband, detached father, and full time autodidact who may have been the finest clarinet virtuoso of all time. (Gary Giddins, author of Warning Shadows and Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams)
[A]t last, the lively, continually imaginative life of the most creative clarinetist in jazz history and an orchestra leader who not only produced hits but also new dimensions of this music. (Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years at the Jazz Scene)
In this riveting biography, Tom Nolan recovers the genius, the legend, the ego and blocked emotions of an enigmatic American icon. (Kevin Starr, University of Southern California)
[C]ompulsively readable. (Daniel Akst - Wall Street Journal)
Top Customer Reviews
The Life of Artie Shaw
A biography of clarinetist Artie Shaw has been published. Its title is Three Chords for Beauty's Sake...The Life of Artie Shaw, W.W. Horton Co., by Tom Nolan. While this biography is a welcome survey of Shaw's life, it is far from definitive. Mr. Nolan, like many interviewers, researchers, and documentarists before him, devotes far too many pages to quoting Mr. Shaw, thus perpetuating many of Shaw's "rationalizing smokescreens", as they were so aptly described by Gunther Schuller in his book The Swing Era (Oxford University Press, 1989). Mr. Nolan might have been able to get away with this if he had balanced Shaw's version of reality with independent research. Unfortunately, the balance in this biography is tilted in the direction of Shaw's recollections, and his unseemly rants against most of his colleagues in the music profession, which undercuts the authoritativeness of this biography.
Nevertheless, Mr. Nolan did do some original research (as opposed to citing to periodicals or memoirs). He located information about the birth and death dates of Shaw's parents, and about Shaw's various childhood homes. He also interviewed a number of persons who either lived with Artie Shaw or worked closely with him over lengthy periods of time, especially in the later decades of Shaw's life. The information gleaned from those interviews assists greatly in trying to understand Artie Shaw.
Most notable among these were the recollections of Joanne Lupton, who lived with Shaw from 1973 to 1980. Ms. Lupton, now Dr.Read more ›
Nolan seems to have an agenda which includes joining Shaw in demeaning Shaw's most successful contemporaries; Glenn Miller is trashed and Benny Goodman is depicted as being borderline retarded, while Jimmy Dorsey is dismissed almost entirely (Tommy Dorsey fares only slightly better). I happen to think Shaw was a brilliant musician who led several first-rate bands, and his place in the history of jazz is secure, so why Nolan felt the need to repeat so many of these gratuitously unpleasant remarks is beyond me. Likewise, Shaw twice suggests that Claude Thornhill was gay - or as Shaw so colorfully puts it, demonstrated "faggotry," although he cites no specific incidents that led him to believe this. Unfortunately, Nolan repeats this with absolutely no corroborating information of any kind.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating insight into the life of one of America's Jazz Giants! Held me all the way through!Published 15 months ago by Robert C. Price
Read and you will gain insight into the complete Artie Shaw and not just the musician. He was a complex person. You'll have to read it. Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by Jorge Barbarosa
I am a very long-time fan of Artie Shaw, as a clarinetist, bandleader, and of his various orchestras and small groups over the years. Read morePublished on May 19, 2012 by Murray713
A couple years back I read Artie Shaw's autobiography, published in 1954, The Trouble with Cinderella. I went away from that with a pretty positive impression of the guy. Read morePublished on February 17, 2011 by Andrew Adelmann
I just finished a biography about Steve McQueen which made an attempt to explain McQueen's sometimes dreadful behavior by putting it in relation to the way he was raised and his... Read morePublished on December 29, 2010 by G.I Gurdjieff
This book filled in a lot of blanks for me regarding the life of Artie Shaw. I became a fan in 1946 with the purchase of his Cole Porter album (78 rpm).Published on July 17, 2010 by Joseph C. Kullman
I enjoyed the book and was glad that I had bought it. As a clarinet player myself, I would have liked to have seen some information on the equipment that Artie used (other than... Read morePublished on July 2, 2010 by Hans