The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom the magic strings of frankie prestoBook Review

Title: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
Author:  Mitch Albom
Imprint: Harper Paperbacks
Released: October 25, 2016
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0062294431
ISBN-13: 9780062294432
Stars:  5.0

Once in a very blue moon a book comes along that is so unique and wonderful, no – downright magical – that it immediately becomes one of the best books you’ve ever read. Those books are what I call five-star desert island classics; books I want to have with me for the rest of my life because I know I will read them again and again.

Recently, my client and dear friend Deborah Ledon recommended a book for me that she said she loved and was certain that I would love too. I bought the book, called The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom, whose work I had read previously and especially adored in The Five People You Meet In Heaven (which I’ve so far read twice). Albom is a maestro of the rhythm of storytelling and I believe he has created his magnum opus with The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, a book narrated by Music itself.

Francisco de Asís Pascual Presto was born in Villareal, Spain in August 1936 in a church where his mother had sought refuge from El Terror Rojo – the Red Terror – revolutionaries and militiamen who were angry with the new government. Francisco’s mother Carmencita was aided by a young nun as she gave birth to her son, and we later learn that she died after childbirth and the nun took care of the newborn, who would not cry, in his early days as an infant. Before Carmencita dies, she sings a melody to her baby, a song called “Lágrima” (teardrops) by the renowned Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega, and the song is immediately ingrained in baby Frankie’s memory.

On the boy’s first birthday his guardian takes him into town to its largest store where Frankie hears a song by Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia on a wind-up gramophone for the first time, and he finally cries. In fact, he continues to cry constantly and the only thing that will ease his torment is music.

Frankie is raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain, known to him as El Maestro, who gives him six mysterious blue strings and a beautiful acoustic guitar, educates him in music, and allows Frankie’s magnificent talent to blossom.

Throughout this extraordinary story, we travel back through Frankie Presto’s illustrious history from the 1940s jazz scene to the Grand Ole Opry, to the birth of rock and roll and Woodstock, while Frankie (accompanied by his hairless dog with no name) searches for his childhood sweetheart, Aurora York. We meet some of the great artists who influenced him and were influenced by him along the way, including Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, Darlene Love, Tony Bennett and Paul Stanley to name a few, who help Music to narrate the tale.

I couldn’t believe it when in Part Five of the novel, Albom wrote about Paul Stanley‘s reminiscences of Frankie Presto, at the end of which he recalled:

“It’s funny. In 1999, I got a chance to play the lead in Phantom of the Opera in Toronto. I’ve never tried anything like that. But I went for it, partly because my son at the time was about five years old. And I remember thinking, “I want him to see me in this.”

Well, I saw Paul Stanley, guitarist and founding member of KISS, in 1999, in Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, and he was absolutely brilliant!

I was mesmerized by Albom’s story from the very first chapter and found myself smiling a lot, although sometimes tearing up too while reading Music’s epic tale about Frankie’s journey to discover what matters most in life and how the power of talent can change our lives. Music, fame, true love and the inevitable fall from grace shape the melody and harmonies of Frankie’s soundtrack and like all great soundtracks, leave us thinking about our own.

Like most of us, Frankie doesn’t get through life unscathed and has to deal with more than his fair share of tragedy, but music, love, and the magic of synchronicity save him, again and again.

This passage brought tears to my eyes with its simple truth:

He recalled a conversation with his teacher.

“Why do the strings make different sounds, Maestro?”
“It is simple. They work like life.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The first string is E. It is high pitched and quick like a child.
“The second string is B. It is pitched slightly lower, like the squeaky voice of a teenager.
“The third string, G, is deeper, with the power of the young man.
“The fourth string, D, is robust, a man at full strength.
“The fifth string, A, is solid and loud but unable to reach high tones, like a man who can no longer do what he did.”
“And the sixth string, Maestro?”
“The sixth is the low E, the thickest, slowest, and grumpiest. You hear how deep? Dum-dum-dum. Like it is ready to die.”
“Is that because it is closest to heaven?”
“No, Francisco. It is because life will always drag you to the bottom.”

I love the messages in this story that tell us with perseverance, practice, and determination, we can overcome the largest of obstacles in our lives…and the loyalty of a good dog can sometimes save us. But ultimately, true love and leaving a positive legacy for our children, is what matters most in life, and for this die-hard romantic, no truer words have ever been written.

With this book, Mitch Albom has become one of my favourite authors. I hope that you will read it so that he will become one of your favourites too.

 

Waiting for John / An Ode to the Century Past / Imagine by Boris Glikman

Waiting for John / An Ode to the Century Past / Imagine

by Boris Glikman


The Dakota NYC

Well, I finally made it to the city that never sleeps.  Of course the very first place I go to is The Dakota. I spent so many years reading about it, picturing it in my mind, dreaming about visiting it and now I am actually standing right outside its famous wrought-iron gates!

It is October the 9th, 2009. I have specifically timed my very first visit to New York City to coincide with his birthday. Surely he must come out and acknowledge his fans on a day like this, accept their greetings, perhaps even blow out the candles on the cakes some of his admirers will undoubtedly bring along.

Within five minutes of arriving at The Dakota—and what a thrill it is to see it for the very first time—Yoko walks right past me. Strangely, she carries no presents in her hands and looks rather melancholy on this joyous occasion. No, not just melancholy, more than that, she looks completely disconsolate and deflated, shrunken almost, as if some vital part of her has been amputated. But surely, once she walks into their apartment on the 9th floor, his famous wit will cheer her up and his cheeky smile will make her smile, too.

Meantime, I will stand here and wait for him to come out. I have flown across oceans to see him and see him I definitely will, despite those ugly rumours I overheard some time ago about something horrifying that apparently befell him a while back. What nonsense! Crazy things like that just don’t take place in our world. Surely fate would take extra-special care of such a man to ensure nothing bad happened to the creator of such sublime and immortal beauty. Why, I am certain he is half-lying, half-sitting on his bed right now, as I’ve seen him do in photos, picking notes on his guitar and creating more sonic jewels of ineffable wonder.

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, for I have to prove to myself that he is in fact a real person and not just an idealised construct created by mankind to satisfy its insatiable need for heroes. For it is almost impossible to believe so many timeless masterpieces could inexhaustibly flow out of one man. What if he is just an archetypal symbol of our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations for a utopian existence and so all my waiting is in vain? But no, that can’t be!

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, to wish him a happy birthday and to press into his hands some of my own poems and stories, so that he can see for himself that we both share the same ideals and beliefs.

And I will grab the opportunity to tell him how much his music has meant to me over the years, how his music gave me the inspiration and the courage to reach for peaks in my own creative endeavours, how music for me is the loftiest form of art and the most sublime means of expression. Alas, not being gifted with having celestial sounds divine arising and frolicking in my mind, I instead am constrained to convey my inner being through lame, unwieldy, coarse lumps of words.

I will let him know how I have tried to continue his mission of spreading hope and light around the world through my own writings, my own actions, my own conduct and interactions with people, for even one small candle can destroy the infinite darkness of the entire night.

Until then, I will wait, for I know if I wait long enough, he will come. He just has to come, for New York City is the place where everything is achievable, the place where impossible, ineffable dreams come true. And so if I just close my eyes and wish hard enough, surely he must appear!

“Waiting for John” comes from a series of pieces written by Boris Glikman titled “Impressions of America” after he visited the USA. This series takes a surreal and unusual look at America. Read more about Boris’ adventures here.

An Ode to the Century Past

That was the age of despair, disrepair
of the damned and the condemned
but this is now, the New Utopia.

That was the time when we killed off our muses,
throwing their remains to the ravenous dogs;
our innocence disembowelled,
our hopes quartered
with five hollow-point bullets
on that cold December night. 

When six million replaced six-six-six
as the accursed number of all eternity and
six million nameless faces,
six million faceless names
were extinguished for that greatest crime of all –
Existence.

But this is now, the Neo-Utopia.

That was the age of despair, disrepair
when raven-black sun
threw rays of shadow upon the Earth
and giant bullfrogs ate pygmy antelope
bones, hooves and all.

But still we fought on, hoping for meaning to appear.
Yet when it arrived, it was only in our dreams,
dissipating the moment we awoke
and grabbed at its gossamer threads
with our crude, clumsy hands.

And this is now, the Last Utopia.

Imagine by Michael Cheval
“Imagine” by Michael Cheval


Imagine

When the city that never sleeps finally retires to bed, exhausted by its own exuberance and hyperactivity, then and only then does John appear at the memorial dedicated to him in Central Park.

Betrayed and forsaken by God, Fate and Mankind on that cold December night, John now performs for no one but himself, singing softly the sonic jewels of wonder he has composed posthumously, and still believing, despite everything that had happened, love is all you need.

He wears a hat made out of a mincer which is filled not with dead meat but with living strawberries, his favourite fruit, and his piano is a zebra-girl hybrid who died young, at the very same instant John passed into eternity.

If all this seems to be quite bizarre and beyond belief, one must remember this is New York City after all, a place where impossible and ineffable dreams do come true, if only one imagines them hard enough.

Boris Glikman

Introducing Music Business Mentoring

Music Business MentoringI’m very pleased to announce that I’m now available as a music mentor specializing in Crowd Funding, Marketing Your Music, Creating Marketing Tools, Branding, Marketing Plans and of course, Social Media through Music Business Mentoring, a new business founded by three singer-songwriters who have worked in the industry for many years: Wyatt EasterlingMarlene D’Aoust & Jennifer Ferguson Smith (a.k.a. Jen Smith).

If you’re a musician or you know of someone who is involved in the music industry who would like to be aware of this incredible resource of leading professionals who can help you navigate through today’s music business, please feel free to share this info with them. Just go to www.musicbusinessmentoring.com and browse through the mentors on the Home page to find out about the topics they cover or use the Search box to search for a topic.

Topics areas include:

  • Relationships/Agreements
  • Music Publishing
  • Touring
  • Recording/Production/Engineering
  • DIY Album Releases
  • Promotion & Marketing
  • Songwriting
  • Performance
  • Funding Sources
  • General Career Advice

and there are many sub-topics included within those areas.

Read our FAQs here.

Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/musicbusinessmentoring

Develop your craft.

Grow your career.

Find your direction.

Need to know? Ask a Pro!

Music Business Mentors are ready to help you!

Congratulations! Anslem Douglas Winner of Black Canadian Award for Best Caribbean Style Artist

Anslem Douglas at Black Canadian AwardsAnslem Douglas, songwriter of the internationally-acclaimed and Grammy Award-winning hit “Who Let The Dogs Out?,” has won the Black Canadian Award over five other nominees AMMOYE, JAHSMIN DALEY, SHALLI, SOCA EMPEROR and MS PAIGE for Best Caribbean Style Artist.

The awards, which took place in front of a full crowd at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre this past Saturday, June 7, is the first of its kind in Canada and was jam-packed with the highest quality of entertainment. Not just a music awards show, the program included many honorees from all walks of life in the Black community in Canada, including fashion and business.

WEBSITES: www.anslemmusic.com /www.BlackCanadianAwards.com

Anslem performed his 2000 massive internationally-acclaimed hit and Grammy Award-winning single “Who Let The Dogs Out?” made famous by the Baha Men, but was written and recorded two years before, in the very exciting and traditional soca style by the Trinidadian-born and now Toronto-based singer-songwriter. It was originally, affectionately called “Doggie” and here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O27fagObxaM to that first recording, which was a huge hit in the Caribbean initially. The covered version was a chart success in many countries, and also became a popular song at U.S. sporting events and was featured in the 2009 hit comedy The Hangover.

Anslem has a new album out called Project A.D. released in the spring of 2012, and it has been on heavy rotation in the U.S. and offers much more than just the traditional style soca.

This hip, upbeat album winds its way around energetic dance mix riffs and mellow grooves. The unique, husky yet sultry sound of Anslem’s vocals fit like a glove, especially on some of his more sizzling x-rated tunes like “The Sex You Give To Me,” I Ain’t Gettin’ None,” and the funkadelic and very danceable “Slap-It.” Arrangements and production is slick yet raw at the same time as evidenced in the beat-driven, house-styled tracks “Love Making” and “Forever” (where his voice sounds very reminiscent of early Seal recordings). The more psychedelic-inspired “Tony Needs a Daddy” and the soul-baring “Mrs. Brady” shows off the softer melody and lyrics from Anslem’s arsenal.

Anslem’s other contributions for 2013 include the single, “Do You Think He Will Understand”, a power Soca called “Bacchanal”, a neo-Calypso single, “Dancing With You”, and a piece written specifically for women “When You Wine.” Project A.D. and the singles are all now available on iTunes and CD Baby.

The Black Canadian Awards ceremony is an event that reflects a commitment to showcasing and celebrating achievements of Black Canadian professionals, artists, trailblazers and leaders within the community.

For more information, photos, mp3s, advance CD copies, interviews, please contact:

Beverly Kreller
SPEAK Music
www.speak-music.com
bev@speak-music.com
416-922-3620
Twitter: @SPEAKMusicPR
Facebook: www.facebook.com/beverly.kreller