Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir by Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin's Fat City provided the soundtrack to a large part of my college years. From the tragic honesty of "Monopoly" to the fun of "Tennessee" (and it didn't hurt that I am from Tennessee) to the gentleness of "Tenderness on the Block," I felt like I understood Shawn's songs, and she understood me. I went on to get several other of her albums, although none spoke to me in quite the same way, but it might have been the place I was in my life when I first heard her songs that made me connect so much to that particular album.

I am not one for celebrity memoirs, but as soon as I heard this one was coming out, I knew I needed to read it. I needed to understand the woman who wrote lines like, "But imagine the nerve of a God/ Letting me let you in/ And I thought I could let you go in grace/ But I've got to think again." She understood the anger mixed with sadness (and desperation) after a breakup and I needed to hear that someone else had these same feelings (and therefore I wasn't a freak for my own extreme reactions to failed love affairs.)

Luckily, she's a good writer (already kind of knew that from her songwriting.) Being from Nashville, I am not impressed with celebrity trappings, but she seems down to earth and pretty ordinary (in a great way), aside from her job. And it really is a lot like a day job, just with long travel schedules. She does seem to have not-great taste in men, but she's got a great daughter and some great friends (even including some exes). And I truly appreciate how honest she is about how hard the writing part is for her. I hope that will give other aspiring songwriters a realistic idea of what it's like.

I felt like a good friend was catching me up after many years apart. It's the perfect book to curl up with next to a fire with a mug of tea or a glass of wine. Shawn's seen highs and lows, she's had her share of heartbreak, and she's very open, sharing it with all of us. If you're a fan at all, you'll thoroughly enjoy this glimpse behind the curtain (which likely will be brightly patterned.)

I bought this book at Parnassus Books, the independent bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee.

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