Is That All There Is?: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee


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"Including interviews with hundreds who knew Lee, ... music journalist James Gavin offers the most revealing look yet at an artist of infinite contradictions and layers. Lee was a North Dakota prairie girl who became a temptress of enduring mystique. She was a singer-songwriter before the term existed. 'Lee had incredible confidence onstage,' observed the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop; yet inner turmoil wracked her. She spun a romantic nirvana in her songs, but couldn't sustain one in reality; as she passed middle age, Lee ...

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Jan 25, 2015


This meticulously written biography told a compelling story about a complicated woman who was an icon to at least one generation. Gavin does not stint on detail, and seemingly minor comments fling open a window of understanding that would be unachievable with mere words. Deep into the book, he mention three factoids in two pages that will have you howling at how ridiculous Peggy could be. His droll and factual accounting of these things are superb.

I could almost taste the dust in North Dakota, as well as the champagne later on in many locations. This book reminds us of those glamorous evenings in NY cabarets, now but a long-gone memory.

His other bios were very good to great, but this is the work of a master. Not a wasted word or punctuation mark. Brilliant!

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