Paul Anka (AP)
Updated: July 17, 2013 6:03AM
“MY WAY,” by Paul Anka, with David Dalton (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99).
The Canadian crooner (along with the Rolling Stone founding editor/contributor Dalton) has penned a lively, often raw account of his life, from his first No.1 single, “Diana,” and his years as a teen idol to the seemingly endless pop star bus tours of the 1950s and early ’60s to his reinvention as a tuxedo-clad Vegas headliner and beyond. Peppered with plenty of anecdotes about crossing paths with everyone from Brigitte Bardot and Tom Jones to Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley, there are plenty of headline-grabbing tidbits to keep readers interested. Of course Anka’s life with the Rat Pack in the 1960s is perhaps the most detailed, including the infamous nightly steam room summits with Frank, Dean and Sammy (and a few others): “... the food was great, the girls were hot, tiptoeing into the steam room giggling. ... We’d be sitting around talking, bulls------g, and all of a sudden a couple of showgirls come in, and they’re naked, too. ...They would come in, take their clothes off, these beautiful women, standing there stark naked. ... There were no gang bangs or any stuff like that going on with Frank around.” Through it all, Anka comes across as fiercely determined to succeed and whip-smart about his career choices. Still, Anka (the proud papa of five girls) skims the surface of his personal life (his early years in Ottawa, the end of his 38-year marriage), which would have created a much more rounded portrait of the artist.
“ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART: MY LIFE AND MUSIC,” by Burt Bacharach, with Robert Greenfield (Harper, $27.99).
The pianist/composer/arranger/producer/Grammy winner hits all the right notes with this candid tell-almost-all. Known primarily for his 30-plus years of collaborations with the late lyricist Hal David, and the songs that became blockbuster hits thanks to the vocals of Dionne Warwick (“Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Alfie,” “Walk on By”), Bacharach shows himself to be a multi-faceted, set-in-his-ways, it’s-my-way-or-the-highway creature of habit. The music man does not hold back, whether he’s talking of his personal life foibles, his biggest career mistake (“Lost Horizon”), the pain of losing a daughter to suicide, the failed marriages (most famously to Angie Dickinson and Carole Bayer Sager), his years spent as Marlene Dietrich’s musical arranger, and so much more. There is plenty to keep the pages breezily turning through all the pain, arrogance, success, failure, regret — enough to fill a Broadway musical, or Greek tragedy. Somehow Bacharach always found the strength to keep the music playing.
“I’M NOT GONNA LIE... AND OTHER LIES YOU TELL WHEN YOU TURN 50,” by George Lopez, with Alan Eisenstock (Celebra Books, $25.95).
The successful comedian and best-selling author has turned his attention to his milestone birthday in his latest tome. Lopez navigates turning 50 with his signature stand-up comedy style; the humor is for the most part nothing you haven’t heard before from a spate of middle-age comedians such as Ray Romano, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Paul Reiser, etc. Lopez navigates many subjects, from his divorce and wandering eye to the cancellation of his TV series and his late-night TBS gabfest (after the cable giant “signed Conan for a billion dollars”) with plenty of chuckles; even his near-death experience due to kidney failure is a laugh-a-minute it seems. But the book’s overall message is old: Live in the moment, be glad for what you have, accept the inevitable: “Listen, this is a fact: Guys chase boobs their whole lives. If you live long enough, you’ll get the ones you’ve always wanted. Except they’re on you.” Know some guy who’s turning 50? They might appreciate the lighthearted fare that Lopez dishes out here. Would I lie?
“Hillbilly Heart: A Memoir,” by Billy Ray Cyrus, with Todd Gold (Amazon Publishing, $25).
Miley Cyrus’ dad had one turbulent life. From small-town Kentucky and a tumultuous family life to his refuge in college sports and music, his struggles with alcohol, his marriages, divorce, his mullet, a career that skyrocketed, crashed and burned and soared back, Cyrus ostensibly leaves nothing out. The singer takes the reader on his life’s journey, finding faith and finding music. (“A voice” at a Neil Diamond concert told him to “go buy a left-handed guitar and start a band.”) Early on, Cyrus writes that he penned a personal goal for his life: “I will become a successful singer, songwriter and entertainer. I will entertain around the world. God will use my music to touch people’s lives and represent his light and love.... I will be known as the next Elvis Presley.” Not sure if many would equate Cyrus’ career with that of Elvis’, but his memoir is an engaging read and portrait of an artist who struggled with many demons and credits his faith with seeing him through all of it.