Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Win-a-book-Wednesday: Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller

I have a soft spot for 70s rock, soft rock and the California sound (Eagles, Jackson Browne, etc.). And I love kick-ass, pre-1980s, female rock singers. I hear "You're So Vain" or "Hotel California" on the radio and it takes me back to childhood. Of course I couldn't resist "Girls Like Us" (2008 Atria Books), by Sheila Weller, which explores the careers and lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, and sets them against the backdrop of second wave feminism.

A couple days ago, I read the last page of the book. I found it a delicious mix of music and social history, biography, with a smidgeon of gossip thrown in. (It would seem that every 70s-era musician slept with every other 70s-era musician at least once.) I appreciate the biography for making three legends into complicated, flesh-and-blood women. King, Simon and Mitchell were not always understandable, were not always strong, were not always models of second-wave feminism, were not always likeable. They were real. And that realness is woven through their songs that are classic and relevant still today.

A groundbreaking and irresistible biography of three of America's most important musical artists — Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon — charts their lives as women at a magical moment in time.

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon remain among the most enduring and important women in popular music. Each woman is distinct. Carole King is the product of outer-borough, middle-class New York City; Joni Mitchell is a granddaughter of Canadian farmers; and Carly Simon is a child of the Manhattan intellectual upper crust. They collectively represent, in their lives and their songs, a great swath of American girls who came of age in the late 1960s. Their stories trace the arc of the now mythic sixties generation — female version — but in a bracingly specific and deeply recalled way, far from cliché. The history of the women of that generation has never been written — until now, through their resonant lives and emblematic songs.

Filled with the voices of many dozens of these women's intimates, who are speaking in these pages for the first time, this alternating biography reads like a novel — except it's all true, and the heroines are famous and beloved. Sheila Weller captures the character of each woman and gives a balanced portrayal enriched by a wealth of new information.

Girls Like Us is an epic treatment of midcentury women who dared to break tradition and become what none had been before them — confessors in song, rock superstars, and adventurers of heart and soul.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

…captivating. And it defies expectations, to the point where Ms. Weller's grand ambitions wind up fulfilled…Girls Like Us is a strong amalgam of nostalgia, feminist history, astute insight, beautiful music and irresistible gossip about the common factors in the three women's lives.

Enter to win this book by sharing your favorite song by any of these women in this thread by Monday, April 27. All names attached to this thread will be entered into a random drawing. The winner will be announced next Wednesday. The winner is also invited to write a review of the book for What Tami Said.

So, my favorites?
"It's Too Late" by Carole King

"A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell

There's a tie for my favorite Carly Simon tune: "That's the Way I Always Heard it Could Be" and "You Belong to Me."


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