The Big Chair (Ned Colletti, Joseph A. Reaves)

I had to read this book because I need a haircut.

The guy who cuts my hair has done it since the 1970’s. We both went to the same high school although I didn’t know it until after I graduated – he was a few years ahead of me. Another guy who was ahead of me in our high school was Ned Colletti. The last time I got a haircut I saw this book on a counter and said I would read it before the next time I came in for a haircut. So now I can call for an appointment.

Like Colletti, I was a Cubs fan growing up in Franklin Park. I was not as rabid a fan as he was, though. I do remember hearing that he went to work for the Cubs organization. After that he moved on to the San Francisco Giants organization and then was hired as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers (The Big Chair).

This book tells the story of Colletti’s journey from modest beginnings in Franklin Park to one of the pinnacle jobs in major league baseball. There are many great stories here, about baseball, leadership, and life (and meeting Frank Sinatra). They are told well. I haven’t really followed baseball in decades but I totally enjoyed this book. Highly recommended even if you are not a hard-core baseball fan.

Songwriters On Songwriting (Paul Zollo)

As I’ve been getting more into music during retirement I’ve been curious about composing and songwriting. And the usual way I start to learn about a topic is by reading books on the subject. So recently I picked up a book on songwriting. I didn’t like it that much – it was primarily a “paint by numbers” kind of  approach to how to write songs. I ended up not even finishing the book.

The second book on songwriting I picked up was quite different, though, and that one was one that I liked a lot and learned a lot from. That was Paul Zollo’s “Songwriters On Songwriting.” The book is a collection of interviews with diverse  successful songwriters about songwriting. For example, the first five interviews  are with Pete Seeger, Livingston & Evans (who wrote, among many other songs, Silver Bells, Mona Lisa, and the theme from the television show Bonanza), Willie Dixon, Sammy Cahn, and Mose Allison. After finishing this book I feel I have a better view of songwriting and those that have been successful at it. It was a quite enjoyable read.

There is a another volume (“More Songwriters On Songwriting”) and I’m putting that on my reading list. If you are curious about the creative process of songwriting I recommend this book.