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Review | Bono, Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry: Whose audiobook is worth a listen?


‘Give up: 40 Songs, One Story,’ by Bono

Singer, songwriter and social activist Bono, narrates his own memoir, a ebook that may enchantment mainly to his followers. He begins his story along with his open-heart surgical procedure and ends it along with his start and a track of reward to the Lord. The intervening 20 hours cowl the soul-scarring dying of his mom when he was 14, his troublesome relationship along with his father, the formation, ascent and adventures of U2, his marriage — now 40 years sturdy — the inspirations for his numerous songs, his goals and his indefatigable promotion of assorted causes. His ebook reminds you that you would be able to admire a person for his virtuous deeds — and Bono’s are heartfelt, extravagant and legion — however nonetheless discover his grandiose self-presentation, penchant for specious profundities (“the best deceit is authenticity”) and monumental wordiness carrying at this size. Nonetheless, the audiobook excels over the print model in presenting Bono’s voice, not solely studying in a reasonable Dublin accent, however singing substantial parts of his songs. (Random Home Audio, Unabridged, 20 ½ hours)

The 10 best audiobooks of 2022

‘The Philosophy of Trendy Music,’ by Bob Dylan

Though the audiobook lacks the print version’s arresting photographs and a bit of the text, it nonetheless has the real article in Dylan’s husky, stuffy-nosed voice unrolling nice swaths of lowdown, hardscrabble hokum and off-kilter exegesis. In his thoughts, Webb Pierce’s 1953 “There Stands the Glass” considerations a soldier’s conflict crimes in Vietnam, “The Road The place You Dwell,” stalking a harlot, and “Your Cheatin’ Coronary heart,” a swindler “liable for bringing poison and pestilence into the houses of thousands and thousands.” A sense of apocalyptic devastation pervades the work. Ten celebrities add their voices to Dylan’s in protecting the outdated troubadour’s engagement with — or intrusion upon — 66 of his favourite songs and their singers. Among the many huge names right here, Jeff Bridges, Sissy Spacek and Rita Moreno are greatest suited to expounding Dylan’s views of the songs they cowl, whereas essentially the most comical is Helen Mirren bringing her fastidious, cut-glass accent to bear on “Pump It Up” and “Cash Honey.” Listening to this ebook places one in thoughts of Dylan’s verdict on Elvis Costello’s work: “Too many ideas, manner too wordy. Too many concepts that simply bang up collectively.” (Simon & Schuster, 6 2/3 hours)

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‘Chuck Berry: An American Life,’ by RJ Smith

RJ Smith’s sympathetic, high-octane biography of Chuck Berry exhibits the good musician “dragging nation music into the boogie-woogie woods” and ushering in what turned rock ‘n’ roll. Born in St. Louis in 1926, Berry was a key participant in a transformative chapter in American social and cultural historical past. Musical genius, innovator, and “a prophet of Black mobility,” Berry was additionally a troublesome man, generally shockingly so when it got here to intercourse, cash and retaliating towards a racist society. Aside from a quite goofy rendition of British accents, actor Phil Morris’s narration dovetails completely with Smith’s flamboyant fashion. His voice is alive with restrained pleasure and vitality, whereas his rendition of Berry’s speech, method, and even his shout and giggle are really excellent. It is a fantastic, rousing efficiency. (Hachette, 14 hours)

Katherine A. Powers opinions audiobooks each month for The Washington Submit.

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