“Voices isn’t just illuminating and thought-provoking and clever; it is exciting.” —Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments
A personal exploration of what singing means and how it works, Voicesis a book about our deepest, most telling relationships with music. Nick Coleman examines the act of singing not as a performance, but as a close, difficult moment of hopeful connection. What does it do to us, emotionally and psychologically, to listen hard and habitually to somebody else’s singing? Why is human song so essential to our lives? The book asks many other questions, too: Why did Jagger and Lennon sing like that (and not like this)? Billie, Janis, Amy: must the voices of anguish always dissolve into spectacle? What makes us turn again and again to a singing human voice?
The history of postwar popular music is often told sociologically or in terms of musicological influence and innovation in style. Voices offers a different, intimate perspective. In ten discrete but cohering essays, Coleman tackles the arc of that history as an emotional experience with real psychological consequences. He writes about the voices that have affected the ways he feels about and understands the world—from Aretha Franklin to Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye to David Bowie. Ultimately, Voices is the story of what it is to listen and be moved—what it is to feel emotion.