What I Was Listening To When…A Memoir Set To Music by Jack L. B. Gohn

I cannot recommend this book enough. I wasn’t sure what to expect when faced with A Memoir Set to Music but this book for me was extraordinary.

I, like the author, have always had a strong association with music as a means of charting my life and I was struck by what a great way this is to frame your unique story and to explore key moments that stay with you into your later years. It got me reflecting on songs, music and moments and reminiscences of my own.

Jack Gohn’s musical taste is eclectic, although even this term does not seem to fully encompass the breadth of music referenced in these pages. There are some well known popular bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but there are other more obscure artists like Dorothy Ashby and her jazz harp. Who knew there was such a thing? And that, for me, was one of the joys of reading this book. Some of the more obscure musical choices were complete eye-openers for me and I feel like my world has been expanded as a result. Thank you, Jack Gohn.

To make it easier for you to access the chosen tunes, Gohn has supplied a link to a Spotify playlist but I was unable to retrieve it. However, I was not put off by this as YouTube provides the mean to sample all of the music with a quick search and so, I have spent many an hour reading his text with the music linked to that chapter playing softly in the background. I can say that this has been a truly stimulating experience that I have loved, to the point that I have rationed myself whilst I have been reading it, attempting to eke out the book as long as possible. Alas, it had to come to end.

I have focused on the music but this takes nothing away from Gohn’s prose. His account of his life is honest and engaging. He is a man of accomplishment but he recognises his flaws and discusses difficult times in his life with candour. It is well-written from start to finish with depth and clarity.

I do not exaggerate when I say that this book has been a big part of my life for the last four weeks. I am sorely going to miss it for its stimulation, education, candidness and learnedness.

This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.

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