High Times, Hard Times
Anita O'Day George Eells
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May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM By Anita O'Day George Eells

Limelight the tradition of the best jazz autobiographiesa fascinating travelogue through the jazz world, filled with vivid images of Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Roy Eldridge and Billie HolidayHer prose is as hip as her music The New York Times Book Review
  • Title: High Times, Hard Times
  • Author: Anita O'Day George Eells
  • ISBN: 0073999248579
  • Page: 111
  • Format: Paperback


BillKerwin May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
A great jazz singer tells it like it was. Very good on Krupa and Kenton, the junkie years, and the subsequent revival of her career after the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The best part of the book, though, is an an account of her experiences as an itinerant teenage marathon dancer singing for tips. Miss O'Day is one tough broad--and it shows.
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GK Stritch May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
Before the story begins, note to whom Ms. O'Day dedicates her book, and then tell me this poor lady, so rich in talent, didn't have one sad life. On page 167 Anita writes, "But nobody has it all. Like me, Ella doesn't have a real good voice." I simply do not understand. These were two great vocalists.The book is painful to read and concludes with what perhaps sums up Anita best, " . . . when I'm up there with my rhythm section . . . that's the time when I'm happiest . . . It's a different world [...]
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Marla May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
3-1/2* I'll just admit it up front. I'd never heard of Anita O'Day. I read this for a book club. I'm glad I did. What a gift to be introduced to her. I listened to her music while reading the book, which I highly suggest. She has just the most sultry voice. What I really liked about this book was that Anita used her own voice. I really got a feeling for the kind of person she was. I loved her expressions, things like "man that cat could play!" Sure a little outdated now, but it put me into her t [...]
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Annette May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I've been semi-obsessed with Anita O'Day since hearing Let Me Off Uptown when I was a junior in high school. Her voice was justooool - controlled, teasing, arch, smooth - and it's gratifying to learn what went into that style and sound. I love a survivor story, especially one with a central character as talented, wry, glamorous, and yes, cool, as Anita O'Day.
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Angela Joyce May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
She had a personality to match her voice! Amazing book.
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Patrick May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I loved this book. Her authorial voice in the book is great--straightforward, no nonsense, and fully of dry humor. There is a noirish aspect to it too--she sounds like a 40s hipster throughout.In a sense, her authorial voice echoes her singing voice.It's always interesting to me when I read musician bios how little I know about their lives even if I know some of their work very well. I have few O'Day albums I've listened to over and over, so I feel this connection to the art, but I really knew o [...]
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Cori May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I had a lot of fun reading this book; looking up all the songs and artists she writes about as I went along. Some I already knew and some I look forward to exploring more. (Has anyone read the Baby Dodds Story?) I found Anita's story very sad. She was very talented and very naive. She was so completely into singing that the world moved on without her. She lived in her own sheltered world. She was only happy when she was on the stage and never quite learned what to do when she wasn't up there imp [...]
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Sasha May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
At 3 a.m. last night I finally read a last chapter, couldnt put it down before.Yes, Anita O'Day writting voice sounds very much like her singing self: ironic, witty, tough hip "swing chick" (her words) who didnt give a damn what others think. Her self-destructivness very much echoes another famous artist (in rock music) Marianne Faithfull, in fact this two women have much more in common than you think. Both survivors, both eventually come back and lived to see reassessment of their careers. Her [...]
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Frank May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
Had read an excerpt from this a few years back in "Reading Jazz" edited by Robert Gottlieb. It was stark and harrowing. The section excerpted was about Anita O'Day's heroin addiction and described how fixing became her focus every day for several years in her life.Now that I have fisished the memoir I realize that this piece was not entirely representative. Anita is honest throughout - self-critical, proud of her strengths but well aware of her weaknesses -but her 15 year addiction did not defin [...]
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Jim Mcclanahan May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I found myself thinking of the biography of Jaco Pastorius while reading this. The differences between the two were that Anita's was an auto-biography, so she got to choose what to include and exclude. Jaco, on the other hand in Jaco Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius the World's Greatest Bass Player is described in terms of a destroyed life. Although Anita O'Day portrays a "warts and all" image of herself, I felt that some of her descriptions of personal triumphs and tragedies were [...]
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Mary Narkiewicz May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
Down to earth, honest autobiography by a very likable lady and great jazz singer - Anita O'day. She describes her long addiction to heroin, drug abuse, ups and downs, love affairs one of my favorite parts of the book is towards the end when she speaks of a family she met up with she was always meeting characters"The whole family was mixed up because the mother was el dinko and all four children were inkle dinkles" not sure what that means, but it got my attention! She describes the time Barbra S [...]
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j george May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
To hear a great musician talk about her work is the best part of this for me. Anita o day was always underrated during the jazz revival, so I was fascinated to read of her original popularity . She is completely unsentimental which makes this a really straightforward read. The authors create a vibrant sense of place and time - particularly in her youth and early work, and is reminiscent of Eddie condon's classic "They called it music" . Anita doesn't dwell on regrets and mistakes and her determi [...]
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Valerielynnbassett May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I love Anita O'Day's singing and saw an interesting documentary about her this summer that made me want to read her bio. This was a vacation read's compelling but sad as she describes her intense 15-year heroin addiction. Most interesting when she talks about the music and her work as a musician. Wish she talked more about that in this book.
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Annie Garvey May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
What a mess! It's amazing that O'Day lived to be 87. She was a heroin addict and basically a bum. All her money went to her habit. In the end, I didn't like her; however, I admired her honesty. I still think that Billie Holliday was a better singer than O'Day.
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Dave Kenealy May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
Not great literature, but a truly great story. The life of a jazz singer with all it's ups and downs. The "downs" are incredible low points, and the "ups" are everything she wanted out of life. Makes you want to learn more about the life of Anita O'Day.
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Erik May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
The title is not a lie.This is a frank and unvarnished memoir about life in show business and living the life of a Jazz singer.As it covers the period basically from prohibition through the 1970s, it dovetails nicely with the "Sporting Life" sections of Luc Sante's "Low Life".
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Adele May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
Totally agree with Bill One tough broad! Enjoyed the book for it's sheer candid writing & transparency.
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4cats May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
A absolute must for any jazz fan, she lived a hard life for the music she loved.
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Devon Riley May 20, 2019 - 12:44 PM
I almost never get to hang out with incredibly talented, cutting edge jazz musicians. Or heroin addicts. So this was super fun. Thanks, Anita!
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High Times, Hard Times By Anita O'Day George Eells Limelight the tradition of the best jazz autobiographiesa fascinating travelogue through the jazz world, filled with vivid images of Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Roy Eldridge and Billie HolidayHer prose is as hip as her music The New York Times Book Review

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