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Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song

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Have you ever heard a song on the radio that just touched your heart, your soul, your very being and it became one of your favorites just because of the message and feeling it brought into your life? What made this song so special to you? What was the inspiration the songwriter had for writing your new favorite tune? Now you may find out. Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song is filled with one-hundred-and-one personal stories by the songwriters of some of the greatest and most beloved songs ever.

Entertainment industry executive Jo-Ann Geffen had an idea. A big idea. As she attended meetings in Las Vegas and listened to the success story behind the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, this big idea popped into her head. When she had the opportunity, she presented it to Bob Jacobs, president of the publishing company; he said “I love it. Let’s do it.” From there started the makings of a great book with so many wonderful and powerful stories. Sure some are funny, some are sad, but all of them seem to have a magical tale about the birth of a song.

Songwriters and artists like Christina Aguilera and Kanye West have stories to tell. For songwriters, the best way for them to tell a story is through their music. Some of the songwriters have chart topping hits, but those are not the stories they chose to tell. They tell stories about the first song they ever wrote, the song that tells someone else they are being missed, the song that helped someone through a rough time, or the song that told the world they are survivors. There is a song for every occasion and season of life.

When I started reading this book I could not put it down. I loved it! I was so enthralled by every story. As I read the story behind the song and then the lyrics memories from my own lifetime came into view. I was intrigued by the stories that built the songs. I found it interesting that a few of the more well known and popular songs were written in a matter of minutes. Songs such as Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” and Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose” performed by Bette Midler are just a couple of many where the songwriters felt that the words and melodies just came to the them as if by a miracle. There are so many stories in the book that describe how some of the most powerful and memorable songs came into the world.

All genres of music are highlighted in this wonderful book. Whether you love Paul Anka’s “My Way” or Slipknot’s “Duality,” there is something for everyone. Some of the songs I knew and others I did not, but I had a desire to listen to every song. I wanted that experience. I hummed along as I read the lyrics to the songs that I did know and a wave of memories filled my mind as I thought back to each era of songwriting.

As I spoke with the author, Jo-Ann Geffen, I asked her how the songwriters were chosen to be in the book. She told me that some of them were her dear friends from many years working in the entertainment industry and others were perpetual icons. Most of the songwriters were very eager to share their stories. The most challenging element of the process was to get the rights to the songs to print the lyrics. The results are fantastic!

Music tells the stories about the era in which we live and these stories in song have built our memories over time. I look forward hopefully to another edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song. Thousands of songs have been written. Therefore; there are thousands of stories to tell.

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