Women have long inspired rock artists, but what do fans really know about these muses? The Girl in the Song focuses on the girlfriends, wives, rivals, exes, groupies, celebrities, mothers, children, and even complete strangers who inspired 50 of rock’s greatest songs. Who was the Emily in Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”? Did life change for Prudence Farrow after John Lennon wrote “Dear Prudence”? And whatever happened to “the girl with mousy hair,” an ex-girlfriend David Bowie sings about in “Life on Mars”?
Songs are typically short and one-sided, and rarely do justice to their subjects. But author Michael Heatley explains how each woman inspired the song written about her, when the song was released, and the impact it had on the charts, the performer, and the woman. He also includes a mini biography of the song’s muse. Music buffs will also appreciate sidebars on the performers who wrote about the women in their lives–Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett would include as many as four girls in the same song–as well as trivia from recording history. It’s the perfect book for anyone who’s ever wondered, “Who was the girl in that song?”
This book, The Girl in the Song, should have been exactly my thing. It tells the back story of popular songs about girls; their inspiration, a bit about the band or singer, where are they now. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Not horribly, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped for.
They were very interesting stories and should have been fascinating. Some are the stories we’re all familiar with: Something/Layla/Wonderful Tonight-all inspired by Pattie Boyd. Many were completely new to me. Unfortunately, it just came off as dry, not engaging. Perhaps some of it was because the authors are British. (I think. That’s not exactly spelled out anywhere, but several clues point to that.) Many of my fave authors are British, though, so probably not.
I think the biggest flaw was that everything was told as if the reader has near-encyclopedic knowledge of each of the songs and albums. I don’t, and I would imagine most people don’t. Some of the songs here were very popular; some are rather obscure. Perhaps I’m not as familiar with some of them as the US and UK charts are different.
The time devoted to each tale, I think, limits what they could do. Each is only 1 ½ to 3 pages.
On the whole, I enjoyed it. It was a very short, quick read and I learned some interesting things. It just could have been more engaging.
I give it a 2.5-3.
Buy The Girl in the Song