31 December 2013

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke

Summary from Goodreads:
Turn Around Bright Eyes picks up Sheffield's story right after Love Is a Mix Tape. He is a young widower devastated by grief, trying to build a new life in a new town after his wife's death. As a writer for Rolling Stone, he naturally takes solace in music. But that's when he discovers the sublime ridiculousness of karaoke, and despite the fact that he can't carry a tune, he begins to find his voice. His karaoke obsession takes him to some strange places, whether that means singing a Frank Sinatra song in a senior-citizen community in Florida, attempting a Merle Haggard classic at a cowboy saloon in the Mojave desert, or clearing the room at an after-hours dive in Chinatown. But he finds the music leads him to the most surprising place of all--a new life and a new love.

Turn Around Bright Eyes is a story about finding the courage to start over, move on, and rock the mike. It's about falling in love and navigating your way through adult romance. It's about how you can learn the weirdest things about yourself just by butchering a Hall & Oates song at 2 A.M. under fluorescent lights in a room full of strangers. It's about how songs get tangled up in our deepest emotions, evoking memories of the past while inspiring hope for the future. But most of all, it's a book about all the strange ways music brings people together.

Sweet, funny, honest, and full of the music you love, hate and love to hate, Turn Around Bright Eyes is Rob Sheffield at his very best.

After jumping back to Sheffield's teenage years with Talking to Girls About Duran Duran he comes back to his adult life.  Love is a Mix Tape was a rip-your-heart-out-and-ugly-cry memoir about how he met his first wife and lost her suddenly to an aneurysm.  Turn Around Bright Eyes starts in that lost post-grief space and covers how music, specifically karaoke, held him together. It reads like a cross between memoir and music reporting (which is fun, because he writes for Rolling Stone). This is a very sweet and tender story, his writing about this tall, skinny white dude belting out "Crazy in Love" or "Church of the Poison Mind" in a seedy karaoke joint and telling us he really can't sing for realz but there is just something transformative about karaoke that makes him get up and do it.  (He gets a lot of props from me because I have only done karaoke a few times and, as a singer, sucked balls at it and so never wanted to try it again.) Also, I'd love to meet his second wife because she sounds awesome.

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