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Anthems We Love

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This one is for the music lovers.  It covers 29 iconic songs with interviews by Steve Baltin with the artists that brought them to life. In this book Baltin has shared some of the the behind the scenes moments related to these Anthems that shaped our lives and captured a generation.
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This is more like a 3.5. As I adore stories about and from musicians, and I love reading about the creative process, I expected this to be a home run. However, many if not most of the musicians couldn't really articulate in any meaningful way how they'd managed to write a legendary anthem. Not every creative person can successfully articulate this kind of mysterious process, and the author seemed to choose a lot of musicians who couldn't. Add in that all of these songs were written years, often decades, ago, and while the songwriters were under the influence of various chemicals. Or they dashed off the song as one of many they had written at the time and that song, for whatever reason, happened to catch fire. 

In other words, the stories of how these anthems came to be were usually not very compelling. And some of the egos here are so enormous it was hard to read—the songwriter basically just going on and on and on about how famous and wonderful they are. This might be true but it doesn't make for riveting reading. Out of all the anthems, the only story I can clearly remember is Grace Slick's and how she wrote White Rabbit. She admits she essentially cribbed the beat from Ravel's Bolero and the lyrics from Alice in Wonderland. She then compares the mounting rhythm of the song to sex. Probably the entire book should have just been Grace Slick talking.

Still, others may feel very differently and love this. Thank you to #NetGalley, Steve Baltin, and the publisher for an Arc in exchange for an honest review. #AnthemsWeLove
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This book is a comprehensive "behind-the-scenes" look at 29 songs or anthems as the author calls them because they have staying power and are iconic through time.  What works well is his extensive source material including interviews with the writers, performers, producers, etc.  Many of the songs listed are ones I grew up with and for me are iconic and memorable.  There were a handful of songs that I had never heard of -- so at first I thought how could they be included in the list of 29 songs??  I do think it is a generational thing given I am a child of the 60's and 70's .  But it did inspire me to go listen to these 29 songs so I could recapture the feeling of hearing them again or in a few cases, hear them for the first time.  An enjoyable read and you don't need to read it from start to finish. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Horizon for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Steve Baltin, Anthems We Love 29 Iconic Artists on the Hit Songs That Shaped Our Lives, Harper Horizon 2022. 

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with this uncorrected proof for review. 

What a tremendous adventure this book provides, down memory lane, into meeting new (for me) artists and songs and gaining an understanding of the work, the artists, the inspiration for some of the material, the role honouring the originator of such inspiration plays in their progress, and the productions in which some of the songs are used. Steve Baltin includes enlightening interviews with the artists and some of the people who used the songs for productions, as well as commentary of his own. There is a great deal of interesting material about covers of the songs that Baltin has designated as anthems. These discussions are as fascinating as the songs that have been chosen and Baltin’s reasons for his choices. 

There are twenty-nine examples of these anthems. Importantly, Baltin has defined the reasons for a song to make his list of twenty-nine. The forward, by Cameron Crowe includes the suggestion that mistakes play an important part in developing a great anthem!  Further, in the Prologue, Spencer Proffer acknowledges that ambitious intentions have only a small impact on creating a song that will last, create history, and develop a following that sees it as part of their lives. Baltin talks of the songs being those that are played at a wide range of celebrations, memorials and gatherings, those that ‘are passed down like family heirlooms and family secrets’.

He makes no claim for his choices being the greatest songs but believes that he has chosen iconic material that has captivated popular culture to the extent that it has lasted more than fifty years.  

Most of the sources for the material appear in the text, with some notes on The Beach Boy’s “God Only Knows”; Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”; Bob Marley – “One Love”; and Earth, Wind and Fire, “September”.  Other songs that make the list include “My Girl” “Light My Fire”, “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In”, “Anticipation” and “Welcome to the Black Parade”. Artists include Tom Waits; Fleetwood Mac; Don McLean; Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young; Janis Ian; and TOTO.  

I particularly enjoyed the interviews with the song writers. Sometimes the difference between the facility with which a writer created the anthem which was the topic of the interview, and their expression in telling an audience what it meant to them was fascinating. Stories were often presented quite awkwardly. However, rather than being a difficult read, these meanderings were a meaningful expression of what some artists found led to their anthem. Others told their stories smoothly. But all the stories were a vivid articulation of what the songs, the covers, the audiences and reception meant.  

This is a lively and meaningful work, a great creator of nostalgia as well as an engaging insight into the great anthems that Steve Baltin has chosen.
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I would rate this book 3 /2 stars out of 5

This is a list of twenty-nine songs that the author has determined are anthem songs. What makes an anthem song? According to the author 1) It has to transcend genres and generations and continually reaches new fans. 2) The song has to be universal. While the author is not claiming that the 29 songs are the greatest of all time, he and for most part society are saying these songs are iconic and have made a significant impact on pop culture and this is saying something when some of these songs are over 50 years old. It is interesting how this song while some the writers and or singers and bands new they may have hit they did not realize how big they would become, or stories were a particular song was really not liked or they just needed a fill in. They definitely knew they had something when they are recognized by their own peers. If you are a music fan it is fun to learn about the background of some and how some songs how been woven into life events. I did find myself looking up some of these songs on various social media apps and watching again. Two songs that I thought were really impactful are sweet Caroline by Neal Diamond who would have ever thought that this would a sports anthem, they play this song before the university of Pittsburgh home football games and there is one particular video that has two people one in a yellow full body suit and the other in a blue full body suit. It is wild to see a full stadium singing this song. The other very impactful video is when Neal Diamond shows up at Fenway Park after the tragic events at the Boston Marathon. The other impactful song, slash video is the U2 song "one" that was played at the Samuel Paty funeral.
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What a fun read!! Filled with songs that I knew and loved along with several songs I didn't know [some of the issue of this book taking FOREVER to read was simply that I spent a lot of my reading time looking up the songs and then listening to them and then going down the rabbit-hole of that particular artist, THEN going back and looking up the covers that that particular artist recommended and loved and again, down the rabbit-hole I went and BOOM, my reading time was done. Oops. ;-) ], it was interesting to read how a song started and ended and what it means to so many people. 
There were quite a few things I knew about the songs listed [I am a serious music person], but there was, to my surprise, a lot I DIDN'T know [especially with the several songs I had never heard of] and those were a lot of fun [with the exception of two songs, that I found I didn't care for at all] and it ended up that there was only one chapter that I skimmed because I found it so tedious [not bad for a book with 29 chapters of musicians musings. ;-) ]. 

One of the things I didn't know; TakeThat remade Barry Manilow's "Could it be Magic" and BOY HOWDY is that a rockin' tune with them singing it [AND that their version is Barry's favorite cover. HOW delightful]. That was such a fun find. As was learning that Neil Diamond wrote "Daydream Believer" that The Monkees made famous! So many great things to read about some of the best music out there. 

Overall, this was a really fun book to read. Did I feel he left out some of the bigger anthems out there? Yes. Did I feel he left out some of my most favorite songs ever? ABSOLUTELY. Did that detract from the book overall? Not one bit. Whether you agree with the author or not about what makes an anthem, this is a banging book to read and if you are a music lover, you will find there is much more music out there to love, even in unexpected ways [I am looking at you Linkin Park - WHO KNEW I would love some of your music]. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves music. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Steve Baltin, and Harper Horizon for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is dedicated to the songs that fit into history and our memories! The author has researched his subjects thoroughly and writes for easy reading.
The storyline flows, giving an insight into how the individual songs came to be, the characters are remembered for their skill and talent at the time.
I enjoyed reading how the songs were promoted, the interviews, the content is historically significant.
I wondered if a smattering of artists from more recent times could have been included?

Thanks so much to the publisher, NetGalley and author for the opportunity to read this book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Thanks to Harper Horizon and Netgalley for the advanced copy!

One of my favorite things to do with friends, especially musician friends, is to sit around and talk about the songs that moved us and mean something to us.  When did we first hear it, where were we, what was happening, all of these things play into my love of music.  Music is memory and vice versa.

What I really loved about "Anthems We Love," was that it was clear that Baltin would fit right into a conversation like that.  This book is a love letter to popular music, focusing on the songs we all know (though I will fully admit I didn't actually know a few of them!) and we can mostly all sing along to when they come on the radio or over the speaker system.  I loved how Baltin when to the sources on each of these songs; the writers, the performers, the producers.  It feels like song exploder, but in word form.  The chapters are succinct and to the point, each focusing on one song and why it is catchy or powerful.  I feel like the book could have maybe had a few more female artists in it, maybe more hip hop (no Salt n Pepa?  come on), but that aside, the songs were fantastic to read about and I enjoyed queuing up the music to listen to as I went through its chapter.

A fun book for music lovers, I hope he comes out with more.
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This was definitely interesting reading!  29 significant songs are examined, mostly in the context of how they came to be and the impact they came to have on popular culture.   Interviews with performers and other industry professionals add deep insight into the commentary, and I liked reading about all the different ways these iconic songs were used, from covers to features in TV and movies.

If I had one quibble, it's that the list is markedly unbalanced.  It leans very heavily on 70's singer-songwriters and, if my count was correct, it featured exactly 2 songs from this current millennium.   Nothing against Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, and Janis Ian, but did all three belong there at the expense of Beyonce?   That said, I learned a lot in reading this and enjoyed myself while I did.  I would definitely recommend this for fans of music and pop culture.  

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
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ANTHEMS WE LOVE by Steve Baltin is a collection of interviews with "29 Iconic Artists on the Hit Songs That Shaped Our Lives." Baltin cites "two essential ingredients for an anthem. The first is timelessness. ... The second, and more important, is universality." He begins with "My Girl" by The Temptations (1964) and ends with "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance (2006). This book will definitely spark conversations and reminiscing – just take a look, for example, at the titles of songs and artists that appeared on the 1972 Billboard Year-end Hot 100 Singles chart. Still, I wonder if this text will appeal to today's high school students; I played several songs by Don Mclean in 2021/2022 school year and drew a big yawn - to them, the music was 50 year old songs, released even before their parents were born. That said, Baltin has gone to great effort to draw out his interviewees and to include new and often personal anecdotes. This collection will likely appeal to music enthusiasts of a certain age.
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Steve Baltin's ANTHEMS WE LOVE was an exciting, illuminating view into songs that transcend a time period, an artist, a particular cultural moment. Throughout this thoughtful, wonderfully informative guide, I enjoyed learning about how a song was made, particularly the accidents, synchronicities, and surprises that worked to develop the songs we know and love. I especially loved the insight into the artists themselves, how they perceive the song and the impact it has had on the world. I received a copy of this book and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
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Off the 29 songs chosen for this book of anthems, I probably would have picked less than half of them. ABC by the Jackson Five just doesn't stand up next to Light My Fire, My Girl or White Rabbit but everyone will have a different opinion. While I did learn some interesting nuggets of information about a few of the songs, some of the interviews were unfocused and repetitive without really revealing anything new. This was a short, quick read without much depth or enlightening information. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Horizon Publisher for an advanced reader copy.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Harper Horizon for an advanced copy  of this book on music, what we take from it and what a song can give us. 

What makes us like things. Especially music, which to a lot of people is just noise with some words added to it, depending on their age, and their opinions on musc not being the the same as it was at their age. What makes an opening note make our brain's go Oh yeah? Why does our heart and soul go nope not doing anything for the next three minutes and forty seconds.  There are many reasons, the flood of memories both good and bad, nostalgia again good and bad. Or maybe a song is just that darn good, and rocking out it the only thing to be done. Anthems We Love: 29 Iconic Artists on the Hit Songs That Shaped Our Lives by author and journalist Steve Baltin looks at popular songs from the last 60 years, and analyses what makes a song work, why we still listen to it, and stories about the creation and the song's legacy.

The book begins with a brief history of music and what the idea of an anthem is. The 29 songs here have been chosen by the writer, as songs that are both timeless, and are about emotions and feelings or situations that are universal among all humans. A song about love gone wrong, or about love still going strong. There is no right or wrong song, these were chosen by the author as the best, and ones that will still be played even after most of us will be gone. There are a lot of usual suspects, but also a few songs that I would never put on a list, but still found interesting. Each chapter is devoted to a song, with interviews with writers and creators, when available, or studio technicians to explain the song's makeup. Fan stories are shared, and each song is given it's own mini-biography of how the life of the song has grown, ebbed, or even rediscovered by new generations. 

The stories are what make the songs real. Fans sharing tales of how a song got them through bad times, or stopped them from doing something and permanent. Careers changed for the better, and sometimes for the worse as a song might be a little bit of an albatross for some bands. The chapters seem different as Baltin writes some chapters as straight essays, others he brings in say the artist Tom Waits, to write about his song inclusion, which gives a the book a different kind of readability. The book is well researched with lots of fun facts, and different takes on familiar, and some really unfamiliar songs. You can see why the songs were chosen, and what they might mean to the author. I would have had a few different songs, and excluded others, but this is how we find new things, leaving our comfort zone and trying a song that was different. I know in my family plenty of music choices would have been ejected from the tape deck if my brother was driving. 

Recommended for music fans and people who love to read about songs, and think about them. Also for creative types who love to watch art be created and brought together. The interviews are very solid and interesting, with a lot of new information. Music is very good at bringing people together, books like this are just as important.
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I like music and thought this book would be interesting ... what would be considered "anthems"?

According to the author ...

'There are two essential ingredients for an anthem.  The first is timelessness.  An anthem is a song that transcends genres, generations and eras, to continually reach new fans over the decades.

The second, and more important, is universally.  The truly great songwriters have the gift of writing a song that can be penned about the most intimate detail of their life but makes the listener feel like it was written about their own story. And hearing that song takes the listener back to a specific place and time.'

I was expecting the songs to come from some kind of survey or poll but they seem to be the anthems that mean something to the author himself.

Before reading each chapter, I checked out the song on Spotify ... some I'd obviously heard of but some I hadn't. Some songs I agreed could be classified as anthems like American Pie by Don McLean, One Love by Bob Marley, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond or Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS. As much as I like Shania Twain, I don't think You're Still the One classifies as an anthem.  Nor does Sara Smile by Hall & Oates ... they have so much better songs to choose from as anthem if you were to include them.  The stories behind the songs were for the most part interesting, though, as a singer or member of a group was interviewed.
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“An anthem is a song that transcends genres, generations and eras, to continually reach new fans over decades.” 

This one is for the music lovers.  It covers 29 iconic songs with interviews by Steve Baltin with the artists that brought them to life. In this book Baltin has shared some of the the behind the scenes moments related to these Anthems that shaped our lives and captured a generation.  The book kicks off with My Girl by the Temptations and covers songs all the way into the early 2000s. He interviews key players on how these songs were written and the moment they knew they had something… I loved reading it and the feeling of nostalgia for some of my own favorites and my memories attached to them, as I learned their origin stories “Such is the power of song, to bring people together.”  Now this book does not purport to capture the definitive final list of Anthems and I’m pretty sure that would be an impossible task, and some of the songs I had to look up (and then have that “oh yeah I know that one moment”) but from the Temptations to Fleetwood Mac to Linkin Park, there will be at least one song you know and maybe even love.  If you love music then this one’s for you.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Horizon publishers for helping me remember some great songs and update my playlist with this ARC
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This book features some of the worlds greatest anthem that we all love. The author has collected over 20+ songs that we all enjoy or at least familiar with and includes interviews with the artists that have written and/or snag them. They talk about how the songs got to be so famous and stories of things that have happened from the songs and their popularity. The interviews also include personal feeling about the song and how the artists felt when the songs first became popular and their thoughts about everything that was happening when the songs were first released and being played on the radio and live at concerts. 

If you’re a fan of learning about the history of music this is a good book for you.
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Anthems We Love by Steve Baltin showcases nearly 30 songs that serve as anthems to many people. Each profile covers a different number and gives a case as to why they're anthems. Unfortunately, I did not consider this book a hit on my list. 

Maybe I've read too many music books or watched too many documentaries and shows about music, but most of the facts I read about each song did not reveal much beyond what I already knew. I feel like this book was designed for the casual listener of pop tunes and not for rock nerds such as myself. It's a book that you may pick up from time to time, almost like a "bathroom book," which sounds disparaging but is not intended to be.

I'm not sure how the author came up with the list or the criteria used to create it. Most of the list does not reflect what I think an audience would pick. Some selected songs seemed completely off the mark. The songs chosen for Fleetwood Mac, Barry Manilow, and U2 came totally out of left field. So many bands did not appear and quite a few titular songs were missing. In fact, I skipped over quite a few songs that I did not care for or even know. 

Although the choices for Kiss, Aerosmith, the Doors, and Earth, Wind, and Fire could be guessed and were right on the money, I could not excuse the glaring omissions. How did Queen's "We Will Rock You" get left off the list? That is probably the number one anthem of all time (and I'm not even a huge Queen fan). What about the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army"? That is played at every major sporting event since it came out. You cannot watch a college football game without hearing it.

I found the choices interesting but partially aggravating because I couldn't see the reasoning behind them. Sometimes, stats were mentioned as proof but not for the most part, so I couldn't stand by the choices. A different title or multiple lists compiled from a variety of music luminaries would have worked better because the songs chosen are too subjective for the general public.
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The 29 songs the author writes about are not the 29 songs I would have chosen but he chose several good ones. I was surprised that not many British artists were chosen (no Beatles?!?) but I’m not the author.
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I enjoyed Anthems We Love, which give the background of twenty-nine songs through interviews with the artist. My definition of what is considered an "anthem" is a little different than theirs, but there is a good mix of songs covered. Even for the songs I knew, in some cases I found it helpful to look up the song lyrics online as I was reading that chapter.

Some chapters resonated more than others because I'm more familiar with the song and/or the artist, but overall it's a good book. Some of my favorite stories include the backstory of God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, Walk this Way by Aerosmith, Rock and Roll All Night by Kiss, Sara Smile by Hall and Oates, and Big Love by Fleetwood Mac. The book is an interesting and easy read that music lovers will enjoy.

I received this ebook from NetGalley through the courtesy of Harper Horizon. An advance copy was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.
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An amazing book for every music lover and I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to read it. Thank you so much for approving me.
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