This is a first for PopCult. In the eighteen-plus years that I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever plugged an audiobook before. I don’t really listen to them because I’m not driving long distances that frequently, and I can’t listen to them while I write because I tend to just transcribe what I’m hearing instead of writing my own words.
But I made time to listen to the new Audible Audiobook presentation of Anita O’Day’s 1981 autobiography, High Times Hard Times, (written with George Eells) because not only is it an unabridged recording of a book that should appeal to any regular listener of The Swing Shift (one of the shows I host on The AIR ), but it’s also read by my artistic hero, Charleston’s own Ann Magnuson.
Anita O’Day was a legendary singer who began her career in the heyday of the Big Band Swing era, singing with Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton before outlasting Swing and becoming a highly-respected Jazz vocalist, admired for her uncanny sense of rhythm and her outspoken views. She lived the life of a Jazz musician with wild musical adventures, drug abuse and brushes with the law, and she laid it all out in this book.
The early part of the book reads like an oral history of the Big Band era, with O’Day encountering a “Who’s Who” of the days of Swing. Then the story veers into tales of drug addiction, near-death experiences and a triumphant comeback.
Ann does a terrific job giving voice to O’Day’s story, and she quickly inhabits the role. You get lost listening to O’Day’s story told in her own words, and forget that she’s not reading them herself.
Ann’s reading of High Times Hard Times is an Audible book, which means that it might be less expensive to sign up for a trial membership than it would be to buy it as a non-member. As someone who has only listened to three or four audiobooks in my life, it seemed like an odd thing to do, but since I’ve got Prime, I was able to get a free trial (I just need to remember to cancel before the trial is over).
I have to admit that I hate the Audible experience since I NEVER listen to anything on my phone, and the PC interface is a bit wonky to figure out at first. But it was worth going through all the hassle to hear this book.
If Audible sold hard copies, I’d be holding off on this until The PopCult Gift Guide, but they don’t, so it only exists as a digital file. If you want to hear Ann’s reading of this remarkable book, you can find High Times Hard Times HERE. Highly recommended for fans of Anita O’Day and Ann Magnuson (and folks like me who are fans of both).