Books | Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett - Wales Arts ReviewThe former are drawn to artists such as Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen ; the latter end up choosing a song about breaking up as the first dance at their wedding. Greatest Hits is a novel for music lovers who pay attention to the words. Her life, reflected in the songs she had written; in the songs that she, and only she, could choose. Her companion album, Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits , will be released this month. Although the novel is set over the course of one day, the majority of it unfolds through flashbacks, each chapter prompted by a song. The loss shadows her throughout her life; she becomes restless, a bolter. The one thing she can commit to is music.
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Greatest Hits should, in theory, be read with a record player to hand — ideally the kind that used to come encased in a solid wood unit resembling a big brown brick. Barnett is no stranger to the concept novel: her bestselling debut, The Versions of Us, played out a romance in three parallel universes and was compared with Sliding Doors. The concept here does not come together as well. The 16 songs at the start of each chapter are chosen by Cass, now retired and in her mid-sixties, for a retrospective album she is compiling. Redeemingly, they turn out to be extraneous to the greater success of Greatest Hits. Barnett paints an intricate portrait of damaged love between Cass and her musical partner, Ivor Tait, who end up in a toxic marriage.
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From the ethereal long hair of Yoko Ono to the slick back and sides of Elvis Presley, the swinging sixties embodied psychedelic rock, soul music and jazz fusion. The civil rights movement was emerging, inspiring rock legends like The Beatles and Bob Dylan to reflect the voices of their generation through music.
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