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Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke Hardcover


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Frequently Bought Together

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke + Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062207628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062207623
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: Full of winking humor, sly lyrical references, and a constant undercurrent of joy, Rob Sheffield’s latest is the story of finding the courage to begin again… by singing off-key in front of strangers. “Sequel” seems too calculated to describe Turn Around Bright Eyes fairly, though it’s certainly a continuation of Love is a Mixtape, which eloquently celebrated the life of his young wife after her sudden death. Embracing his past, he now looks to his future, falling in love again and remarrying. From his favorite NYC spot to a saloon in the Mojave Desert, we follow his personal history of finding his karaoke voice, we meet his amazing Ally/Astrogrrl, we discover his deep knowledge of Lifetime movies, and we root for him at Rock ‘n’ roll Boot Camp. It’s inspirationally romantic, entertainingly educational, and remarkably persuasive. When all is said and sung, Sheffield’s brand of hope inevitably leaves you wondering, “Which song should I choose?” --Robin A. Rothman

Chuck Klosterman Reviews Turn Around Bright Eyes

Chuck Klosterman

When Roger Ebert died, obituary writers cataloged all the wonderful details about his career as a critic, of which there were many. But the quality that came up most often was the one that mattered most: Ebert never lost his connection to the sheer glee of sitting in a dark theater and experiencing a movie that made him feel something. His intellectual relationship to criticism never eroded his emotive, visceral relationship with the art that he loved. This is an incredibly rare quality. And it’s the same attribute that informs everything Rob Sheffield writes. Even if Sheffield were a robot, his writing would be worth reading, simply because he (a.) knows how sentences work and (b.) seems to effortlessly recall every interesting thing about every single song he’s ever heard since kindergarten. He’d still be an excellent music writer if he thought music sucked; the fact that he loves music so sincerely makes him borderline unstoppable. Turn Around Bright Eyes is technically about karaoke (and ostensibly about learning how to romantically recover from the romantically unrecoverable), but it’s actually about what music can give your life -- if you’re willing to give your life to music.

What you realize from Turn Around Bright Eyes – and from its narrative progenitor, Love in a Mix Tape – is not just that Sheffield calibrates his entire existence through popular music. It’s that this calibration is simultaneously reasonable, creative, and profoundly satisfying. This is not a book about how karaoke helped some depressed person escape from reality; this is a book about how karaoke continually allows a happy person to perform his own reality, in public, whenever he so desires. When Sheffield describes how it feels to cover “Ziggy Stardust” in a windowless room, he is only halfway talking about David Bowie; he is mostly talking about himself. When he defines why Neil Diamond is the cornerstone of the karaoke universe, he is defining what he values about culture; when he outlines why he added Rush to his karaoke repertoire, he’s outlining the process of personal growth; when he explains the sensation of singing Bonnie Tyler’s masterwork alongside his wife, he’s explaining things about his marriage that would be impossible to explain otherwise. It might seem crazy, but it works every time. There is no question about life that Rob Sheffield cannot answer through the lyrics of a Top 40 song everyone else forgot to remember. He understands Rod Stewart the way Frederick Exley understood Frank Gifford. He understands made-for-TV Lifetime movies the way Joan Didion understood hippies. He understands Bon Jovi slightly more than the members of Bon Jovi. He understands why life hurts and why life feels good.

There’s a fleeting paragraph in Turn Around Bright Eyes where Sheffield casually mentions that he once went to a therapist who happened to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium. Rob ends up paying her $80 to listen to her talk about a 30-minute concert for 45 minutes. At the end of the session, the therapist wonders if this one-sided conversation was “really necessary,” which makes me suspect she didn’t understand the man she was talking to. By the time you finish this book, you will understand Rob Sheffield better than she did. “I’m a combination of two horrific personality types,” he writes in my favorite chapter. “An encyclopedia-minded data-storage-facility rock geek and a crippling polite firstborn Irish son.” Somehow, Rob seems to assume these are bad qualities, which makes me wonder if he’s a little confused himself. Those are the best qualities any rock writer can possess. I can’t think of a more likable, more stable, or more self-assured narrator than this particular person. Every sentence makes sense, including the ones that completely surprised me.

You know, I must be honest: karaoke scares me. It’s my greatest phobia. I could speak in front of 20,000 people, but I couldn’t sing in front of two. I’m a little ashamed of this fact, and there’s nothing I can do about it. But reading this book makes me feel like that fear doesn’t exist. It makes me feel like I just drunkenly sang “Whole Lotta Love” and totally killed it. I’m not even sure what that means.

What does it mean when a book makes you feel like you can sing?

From Booklist

Part love story, part ode to music by a lifelong fan, this follow-up to the best-selling memoir Love Is a Mix Tape (2007) celebrates the weird world of karaoke. A young widower and writer for Rolling Stone, Sheffield finds in karaoke a way to climb out of his grief and even look to a new future. Like a hazy night where only the best songs stand out, Sheffield’s ballad to karaoke hits the highlights of both the development of a cultural phenomenon and his own journey to living life again. It’s a fun ramble, filled with ruminations on rock stars and stardom, along with his interactions with celebrities, and it’s crammed with references that pop-music geeks will love. Sheffield doesn’t just know about songs, he feels them and what they do to him, and his fervent writing—part disciple, part critic—makes you feel the music, too. His insights into music’s importance for life and love are refreshing rather than cheesy. Overall, his deep wonderment at finding love again comes across as clearly as singing “Forever’s gonna start tonight.” --Bridget Thoreson

More About the Author

Rob Sheffield has been a music journalist for more than twenty years. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV, and pop culture, and regularly appears on MTV and VH1. He is the author of the national bestseller Love is a Mix Tape, which has been translated into French, German, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and other languages he cannot read. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

If you love music you will love this book.
Kippoe
Rob Sheffield not only writes about karaoke - he also writes of love.
Patricia R. Andersen
I really would give 3 1/2 stars if it was available.
H. Bonczek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Patricia R. Andersen VINE VOICE on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rob Sheffield not only writes about karaoke - he also writes of love. Three years after being widowed, Mr Sheffield finds his way out of the widower fog. And he begins to live and love again.
The subtitle says "The Rituals of Love and Karaoke" and that's true to a large extent. But it's also about finding yourself after the loss of your spouse. It's not explicitly in the text, but it's in there. I was glad to see that since I am in widow fog now and sometimes I despair of having a sort of normal life. Mr Sheffield doesn't make it sound easy because it isn't.
He gives the history of karaoke in Japan as well as the US. I was completely unaware there are whole _bars_ just for karaoke. I thought that was a sort of once a week thing. I would have thought of trying karaoke (I can't carry a tune in a bushel basket) but Mr Sheffield makes it sound like so much fun.
I recommend this book highly to anybody interested in music or karaoke. I also recommend this book to anyone who is trying to figure out what happens next in their life.
I really enjoyed this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Karna S. Gocke on August 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First, let me say that I love reading Rob Sheffield. I have read both of his other books and I am devoted to his work in Rolling Stone. So maybe my expectations were too high, but this book does not measure up to the other two. I felt like he was trying too hard to make this about Karaoke, meaning that the stories themselves are good, but trying to link them all back to karaoke lessens their impact. When he writes about his wife, Ally, I'm happy for him--I like this couple. I would have rather have just read about them, without Sheffield's "karaoke thesis", which is disjointed, repetitive, and definitely not universal. He sort of keeps throwing karaoke into the beginning and end of the chapters in order to try and prove his point, but it doesn't work. I am not convinced of the "power" of karaoke. Bottom line: great stories, great music, but the karaoke theme does not hold up--I wanted to love this book as much as his other two, but it didn't happen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Moskowitz on September 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Short Attention Span Review: If you're a music loving Gen-Xer, you'll find a kindred spirit in Sheffield.

Full review:
Everybody loves music when they are young. Music is as ubiquitous in the daily life of a kid/teen as television, movies, and now video games. As we grow older, however, that love wanes for most people. Almost everyone watches new TV shows and movies, but for some reason, many people stop being invested in music as they get into their late 20's, 30's, and 40's. Sure, they'll listen to their old faves and may become vaguely invested in a pop song because their kids listen to it, but seeking out new bands seems to fall by the wayside for most adults. There are those of us who never stop searching the dial, blogs, iTunes, etc. for new and exciting music. If you are one of those people, you probably already know Rob Sheffield from his work at Rolling Stone, but if not, you'll see more than a little bit of yourself in his work.

Sheffield has spent three books detailing the soundtrack of his life. Every memory is attached to a song, both happy and sad. In his first book, he details the loss of his wife. The second discusses those traumatic teen years. In his latest work, he uses karaoke to introduce us to his new wife and the way in which performing music (he insists poorly), has influenced him over the years. If you've ever never participated in the act of standing in front of a group of people to sing a song in front of a screen likely showing pictures of couples walking peacefully on a beach, you will probably feel a little left out. Karaoke is not for American Idol wannabes, it's more for people who love music so much that they want to sing it publicly, often with really bad results.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Bonczek on October 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Parts of this book made me laugh aloud, parts made my eyes tear up, and other parts made me wish that part was over already ( I admit it-I skimmed those parts!). My favorite sections were the ones about the Beatles, 9/11, Rod Stewart, Rush, his parents, and Ally. My least favorite parts included references to bands I just don't know (which isn't Sheffield's fault) and the parts that were overly repetitive, especially early on. I found the organization quite scattered, sometimes with clear transitions between chapters, and other times no indication the current chapter was even connected to the previous one, or sometimes, even the book itself. I really would give 3 1/2 stars if it was available.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Citizen John TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had a feeling but didn't fully appreciate what karaoke can do for us. It can help us in all kinds of ways to find peace within ourselves and feel comfortable in difficult times. As Sheffield discovered, karaoke can fill the emptiness we sometimes feel, and take away sadness and fears.

The book helped me to understand why and how people become so active in karaoke. It gives an opportunity to sing loudly in front of others, and also to show people a side of a song that evokes special feelings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wilhelmina Gawdy VINE VOICE on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke" by Rob Sheffield is a fun book to read. I'm not exactly what you would call a fan of Karaoke nor have I ever stepped inside a Karaoke bar. But, I have a strange fascination reading about such goings on and seeing Karaoke bar scenes in TV shows or movies. Kind of like enjoying spy novels I suppose. I'm not a spy, will never be a spy, nor will I ever engage in any spy-like activities but I enjoy a good spy novel or movie.

I like this writer's style. I felt like he was talking to me over coffee in a cafe or beer in a bar and telling me about his adventures. He writes in such a close, personal, friendly way I was all "ears" the whole way through. I felt myself traveling back in time when I started reading off the names of songs throughout the book.

When you hear certain songs memories immediately come to mind reminding you of where you've been. It was great how this book illustrates how music can also lead you to where you need to be.
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