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One Last Song: Conversations on Life, Death, and Music

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An ironically upbeat book that asks some of today’s most inimitable musicians which song they would choose to be the last one they ever hear Variety Best Music Book of 2020 TIME Best Book of Fall 2020 Selection   If you could choose the last song you’d hear before you died, what would it be and why? Your favorite song of all time? Perhaps the one you danced to at your weddin An ironically upbeat book that asks some of today’s most inimitable musicians which song they would choose to be the last one they ever hear Variety Best Music Book of 2020 TIME Best Book of Fall 2020 Selection   If you could choose the last song you’d hear before you died, what would it be and why? Your favorite song of all time? Perhaps the one you danced to at your wedding? The song from that time you got super stoned and just let the chords speak to you? It’s a hard question that Mike Ayers has thought about for years.   In One Last Song, Ayers invites 30 musicians to consider what song they would each want to accompany them to those pearly white gates. Weaving together their explanations with evocative illustrations and poignant interludes—what your song to die to says about you, what songs famous people have died to, and more. The book offers insight into the minds of famous artists and provides an entry point for considering how integral music is to our own personal narratives. Artists Featured: Jim James of My Morning Jacket, André 3000, Killer Mike, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Phoebe Bridgers, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers, Courtney Barrett, Bobb Bruno of Best Coast, Angel Olsen, Regina Spektor, Kevin Morby, Will Oldham, Julia Holter, Margo Price, Sonny Rollins, Ryley Walker, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Yannis Phillippakis of Foals, Bettye Lavette, M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, Wanda Jackson, Roseanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Beth Orton.  


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An ironically upbeat book that asks some of today’s most inimitable musicians which song they would choose to be the last one they ever hear Variety Best Music Book of 2020 TIME Best Book of Fall 2020 Selection   If you could choose the last song you’d hear before you died, what would it be and why? Your favorite song of all time? Perhaps the one you danced to at your weddin An ironically upbeat book that asks some of today’s most inimitable musicians which song they would choose to be the last one they ever hear Variety Best Music Book of 2020 TIME Best Book of Fall 2020 Selection   If you could choose the last song you’d hear before you died, what would it be and why? Your favorite song of all time? Perhaps the one you danced to at your wedding? The song from that time you got super stoned and just let the chords speak to you? It’s a hard question that Mike Ayers has thought about for years.   In One Last Song, Ayers invites 30 musicians to consider what song they would each want to accompany them to those pearly white gates. Weaving together their explanations with evocative illustrations and poignant interludes—what your song to die to says about you, what songs famous people have died to, and more. The book offers insight into the minds of famous artists and provides an entry point for considering how integral music is to our own personal narratives. Artists Featured: Jim James of My Morning Jacket, André 3000, Killer Mike, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Phoebe Bridgers, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers, Courtney Barrett, Bobb Bruno of Best Coast, Angel Olsen, Regina Spektor, Kevin Morby, Will Oldham, Julia Holter, Margo Price, Sonny Rollins, Ryley Walker, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Yannis Phillippakis of Foals, Bettye Lavette, M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, Wanda Jackson, Roseanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Beth Orton.  

53 review for One Last Song: Conversations on Life, Death, and Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joachim Stoop

    All filler, no killer. I know it's all about taste, but I had higher expectations about the death bed music choice. Firework by Katy Perry? Baker 'the absolute low of 80's sax playing' Street by Gerry Rafferty? Perfect day by Lou Reed? Girls just want to have fun? by Cyndi Lauper. Of course one would die! You don't need a death bed or disease with this kind of music. To give it an air of encyclopedic insight (i.e. to thicken the book) we get some lists which were at best lightly entertaining: - Fa All filler, no killer. I know it's all about taste, but I had higher expectations about the death bed music choice. Firework by Katy Perry? Baker 'the absolute low of 80's sax playing' Street by Gerry Rafferty? Perfect day by Lou Reed? Girls just want to have fun? by Cyndi Lauper. Of course one would die! You don't need a death bed or disease with this kind of music. To give it an air of encyclopedic insight (i.e. to thicken the book) we get some lists which were at best lightly entertaining: - Famous musicians and the last live songs they played - The most morbid number one songs of all time - Songs somefamous TV character went out to If I want to find this kind of info... I'll check wikipedia next time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike Friedman

    Mike Ayers has created a fantastic homage to one of the only things that truly helps us cope with existential dread — music. One Last Song is the natural next step from a former Rolling Stone editor and author who has been listening to, thinking about and writing about music for years. If you want a fun and fascinating book that is equal parts about music and how we think about our life and death, check it out!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jay Gabler

    Years in the making, One Last Song landed with special poignance when published in October, amid a global pandemic that cruelly circumscribes what Jim James, in a foreword, calls "our final act of creation." To protect their loved ones, COVID-19 victims must die alone, with only PPE-clad medical personnel — doing heroic, compassionate work — to ease their transitions. When most of us think of death, we imagine our loved ones at our side. That's certainly what Stephen Malkmus had in mind when he m Years in the making, One Last Song landed with special poignance when published in October, amid a global pandemic that cruelly circumscribes what Jim James, in a foreword, calls "our final act of creation." To protect their loved ones, COVID-19 victims must die alone, with only PPE-clad medical personnel — doing heroic, compassionate work — to ease their transitions. When most of us think of death, we imagine our loved ones at our side. That's certainly what Stephen Malkmus had in mind when he made his pick: "Carefree Highway" by Gordon Lightfoot. "It's almost not about you," he told Ayers. It should be a song the whole family can enjoy together. Malkmus is one of 32 artists who responded to Ayers's query; each response appears as a brief essay in a book that's kind of a page-turner once you get past the unavoidably macabre premise. It would be an interesting question to ask just about anyone, but the special appeal of querying musicians is that the answers reveal something of how the artists think about music itself. I reviewed One Last Song for The Current.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nic Carnes

    So, I love this book. It sounds like it would just be a total depressing read that leaves you sobbing... it’s not though. I laughed and smiled at some of the stories and observations, and it’s a book that makes you think. First of all, the layout is great. The illustrations are so fun and well thought out, I love the creative colors used for the pages, the fonts used, the very large page numbers. It’s just an unexpected book that surprised and delighted me. When I read the synopsis of this book, So, I love this book. It sounds like it would just be a total depressing read that leaves you sobbing... it’s not though. I laughed and smiled at some of the stories and observations, and it’s a book that makes you think. First of all, the layout is great. The illustrations are so fun and well thought out, I love the creative colors used for the pages, the fonts used, the very large page numbers. It’s just an unexpected book that surprised and delighted me. When I read the synopsis of this book, I thought, “what WOULD my last song be if I could choose?” And I almost immediately thought, Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” (or really anything from that album in particular). What a cool surprise that Colin Meloy of the Decemberists (the first musician featured) answered Astral Weeks. I mean, how awesome! I definitely recommend this read for music lovers, I didn’t even know all of the musicians featured- nor did I recognize all of the “last songs”... But it was neat reading why people chose what they did. Very enjoyable book about an interesting concept and visually, it’s so pleasing! I received this book as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    It's always interesting to read what others think would be the first song they remember, enjoyed dancing to, ones that bring back a flood of memories, what they want played at their funeral should they decide to have one and in this case what song they want to hear just before they die. Several of the choices I was more than familiar with, many I was not simply because I just don't follow music as much as I used to not because I don't love music, I do, just because. And the choices ranged across It's always interesting to read what others think would be the first song they remember, enjoyed dancing to, ones that bring back a flood of memories, what they want played at their funeral should they decide to have one and in this case what song they want to hear just before they die. Several of the choices I was more than familiar with, many I was not simply because I just don't follow music as much as I used to not because I don't love music, I do, just because. And the choices ranged across all spectrums. And the book just doesn't deal with individual choices. There were lists of the most morbid songs, movie and TV deaths songs, etc. There were some interesting facts in Mike Ayers book. A very fast read and it may or may not make you think about the song you want to hear just before you kick that can! Is Mike's next book about the song(s) you want to have played at your funeral?!?!? We'll see but consider Peter Frampton's 'Do You Feel Like I Do?'.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    30 musicians talk about the last song they would want to hear before they leave this earth. I loved this book! I'm usually someone who just reads books straight through and doesn't have more than one book going at a time, but I read this book a little at a time in conjunction with other books. I would read 3 or 4 essays a day of course listening to whatever song the artist was talking about while reading. It was nice little treat when I got off work. It was really fascinating to read about peopl 30 musicians talk about the last song they would want to hear before they leave this earth. I loved this book! I'm usually someone who just reads books straight through and doesn't have more than one book going at a time, but I read this book a little at a time in conjunction with other books. I would read 3 or 4 essays a day of course listening to whatever song the artist was talking about while reading. It was nice little treat when I got off work. It was really fascinating to read about people's reasoning as to why the chose the song they chose.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Martin C

    Fascinating insight and a thoughtful dive into what musicians would hear as their last song ever. Very much enjoyed listening to the songs discussed in the book too. Highly recommend!

  8. 4 out of 5

    M

    Neat idea but underwhelming essays. I don't judge the song selections (music is so subjective and personal) but writing style (especially from main author) was bland and felt like big font was used to fill up pages. Neat idea but underwhelming essays. I don't judge the song selections (music is so subjective and personal) but writing style (especially from main author) was bland and felt like big font was used to fill up pages.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Steinberg

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jared Huskey

  11. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison Dunmire

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Kay

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shayna Posses

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Bracken

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robb Wolf

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Rickard

  21. 5 out of 5

    Colton

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fine

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul Germain

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ray

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Thomas

  28. 5 out of 5

    Synthia Salomon

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gokul Singh

  31. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kelcee

  33. 5 out of 5

    Jack Mcloone

  34. 5 out of 5

    Detroit

  35. 4 out of 5

    Mike Ayers

  36. 4 out of 5

    Paula Martinez

  37. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Haynes

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jim Oxley

  39. 4 out of 5

    Charles Fredrick

  40. 4 out of 5

    Justie

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  42. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  43. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  44. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  45. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

  46. 4 out of 5

    Carmen Guajardo

  47. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Peterson

  48. 5 out of 5

    Shana Zucker

  49. 5 out of 5

    Astrid Galactic

  50. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  51. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Swanson

  52. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Bannister

  53. 4 out of 5

    Liesje

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