Thursday, December 20, 2012

And There I Stood With My Piccolo

And There I Stood With My Piccolo. Meredith Willson. 1948/2009. University of Minnesota Press. 256 pages.

I enjoyed reading Meredith Willson's first autobiography, And There I Stood With My Piccolo, which was first published in 1948. The book isn't an organized biography by any means, but each chapter contains a sketch or two about his life and experiences. Some of these experiences are from his youth and childhood in Mason City, Iowa, but, many are from his experiences as an adult musician. Readers learn about his time in New York City, San Francisco, Hollywood, Pasadena, etc. The book is about his experiences as a musician, a composer, a professional in the radio industry. These are stories about places he's lived, places he's traveled, people he has met, people he has worked with closely, etc. There are even plenty of sketches about quite common things. The book isn't even chronological, he might spend one chapter talking about working on a radio show and the next chapter talk about playing marbles as a boy or going to see fireworks. But. If you don't mind rambling, if you enjoy conversational books, this one might be just right for you. I am glad I kept reading even if I didn't exactly "love" each and every chapter. I think the book is enjoyable for the point of view it provides on the entertainment industry of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

My favorite quote comes close to the end:

If I ever write another symphony, I'd like to take a crack at something that would include all the promise of the train whistle and engine shoofing. The promises and dreams are in many ways more wonderful than the fulfillments. (254-255)
My next-favorite quote is found at the beginning:
An old Moravian flute player once told me a story that went like this: A very important king hired a whole orchestra to play for him one night during his supper, just because he felt lonesome. This orchestra played great and the king was so delighted that before going to bed he said, 'Boys, your playing gave me the whips and jingles, and just for that you can all go to my countinghouse and fill your instruments with gold pieces.' I can still hear that happy clatter as sack after sack of golden tiddlies streamed into the tuba and slithered down the neck of the bassoon and spilled out over the bells of the French horns. And there I stood with my piccolo. (7)

 Read And There I Stood With My Piccolo
  • If you like reading biographies and autobiographies
  • If you like conversational books with sketches or vignettes 
  • If you are interested in learning more about what life was like in the 1920s, 30s, 40s
  • If you are interested in music or the entertainment industry (New York, Hollywood, etc.)

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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