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Book Reviews

Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings

By Published: May 19, 2006
Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings
Petter Pettinger
Hardcover; 346 pages
ISBN: 0300097271
Yale University Press

The late Bill Evans, a cerebral, classically-trained pianist, was the first of many brilliant keyboardists whose careers were launched by Miles Davis. Sometimes described as the Chopin of jazz, Evans, who died in 1980, was ethereal in his approach and esoteric in his appeal. "Bill Evans has no casual fans," wrote Adam Gopnik in a 2001 New Yorker article. Evans' name, added Gopnik, has become "synonymous with a heartbreak quality that is not like anything else in music."

A shy and self-effacing man, Evans once admitted: "It is a peculiarity of mine that despite the fact that I am a professional performer ... I have always preferred playing without an audience." His audience, it has been noted, also seems to prefer a sense of self-imposed exile. The average Bill Evans fan tends to consider him a private treasure, one little regarded by a woefully ill-educated musical public.

The self-anointed true believer gazes with disdain on those who, their tastes shaped by the musical pabulum dished out on smooth jazz radio stations, think of Yanni and Kenny G as the pinnacle of jazz artistry. Evans' music is often dismissed by careless listeners as nothing more than elegant cocktail piano, leaving his devotees cherishing the sense—melancholy yet prideful—that few (besides themselves, of course) can appreciate the exquisite subtlety and nuance of Evans' rarified talents.

These devotees are always surprised to discover that over the past three decades there have been innumerable other fans around the world equally devoted to his memory. Addressing this enhanced self-recognition, perhaps as much as anything, might be biographer Peter Pettinger's overriding contribution to Evans' legacy, providing a center of gravity—what T. S. Eliot called an objective correlative—for Evans' diaphanous fan base. Twenty years may well be an appropriate posthumous interval to wait before beginning to judge any single individual's contribution to the rich tradition of American jazz. If so, Pettinger's biography, published eighteen years after Evans' death, was almost right on time.

Some critics have complained that Pettinger, a British concert pianist for over thirty years, seems to care more about the Bill Evans the pianist than Bill Evans the man. Nonetheless, Pettinger was assiduous in his research, and his book, whatever its perceived flaws, does an excellent job of gathering together the facts of his life. Perhaps the best example of the objective correlative provided by the book are the names of numerous individuals alluded to by several of Evans' best known compositions.

An instrumental tune with no lyrics is a blank canvas for the listener, who is free to make his or her own (non-biographical) associations. It certainly isn't necessary to know that "Fran-Dance," for instance, is named after one of Miles Davis' wives in order to appreciate the tune. However, while the same might be said Wayne Shorter's "Ana Maria," also named after a former spouse, it's not altogether superfluous to know that she died (along with their niece Dalila) in a 1996 plane crash.

One reviewer has objected that Pettinger does not tell the reader much about Evans' associates beyond discussing their musical impact, after which they are quickly pushed offstage. Personality sketches and even physical descriptions are generally absent. Nonetheless, long-time aficionados previously unacquainted with Evans' personal life may be piqued to identify all the people commemorated in his song titles only now. "Peri's Scope," "B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine)" and "Nenette" are named after paramours. "Maxine" refers to his stepdaughter (Nenette's daughter), "Waltz For Debby" to a favorite niece, "Letter to Evan" to his son (by Nenette), and "We Will Meet Again (For Harry)" to his beloved older brother (Debbie's father).

"Gary's Theme" is a tribute to Gary McFarland (who wrote the tune), a vibraphonist, composer, arranger and producer who collaborated with Evans. Now largely forgotten, McFarland was one of the more significant contributors to orchestral jazz during the 1960s. McFarland, while with a friend in a New York City bar in late 1971, ingested a drink into which liquid methadone had been poured. He suffered a fatal heart attack and died instantly. Exact details are murky to this day. "Lullaby For Helene" was inspired by the daughter of Earl Zindars, a percussionist and composer at whose wedding Evans had been best man."One For Helen" is a paean to Helen Keane, Evans' manager and producer. Incidentally, Keane, a keen judge of talent, is credited with discovering Harry Belafonte—as well as keeping Evans alive during the late 1970s.

As with Shorter's "Ana Maria," this titular background is clouded heavily by personal tragedy. Of Russian ethnicity, Evans' life contains episodes that seem lifted from a Tolstoy novel. His long-time common-law wife Ellaine was unable to bear him the son he so desperately wanted. Evans took up with Nenette Zazarra, whom he eventually married—but not before a despondent Ellaine threw herself in front of a train. Evans was on the West Coast at the time, and the unenviable task of identifying the body fell to Keane.

Having read How My Heart Sings, serious listeners can scarcely remain unclouded themselves. How is one to go back and listen to a man who destroyed his marriage playing a whimsical rendition of "I Love My Wife"? And surely the "heartbreak quality" referred to by Gopnik will become overwhelming as one listens to the exquisite "Spartacus Love Theme"—with its cascades of melting icicles and breathtaking hummingbird flights—knowing that Evans died a slave to his own habit.

Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1929 and began his music studies aged six. Classically trained on piano, he also studied flute and violin as a child. After graduating with a degree in piano performance and teaching from Southeastern Louisiana College (now University) in 1950, he studied composition at Mannes College of Music in New York. After a stint in the Army, he worked in local dance bands and came to the attention of producer Orrin Keepnews at Riverside Records.

Evans' first album was New Jazz Conceptions, recorded in 1956, which featured the first recording of "Waltz For Debby," his single most popular composition. The follow-up release, Everybody Digs Bill Evans, was not recorded for another two years; the always shy and self-deprecating pianist claiming he "had nothing new to say." Evans also began to attract attention in the NYC jazz scene for his original piano sound and fluidity. The book recounts his first real break playing opposite the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Village Vanguard, which became his most frequent live venue.

Evans recalled a seminal moment that was to have a far-reaching effect on his career: "Nobody knew me, of course ... and despite the fact that Milt Jackson gave me a really fine intro ... it was a thunderous din. But I just kept on playing. ... Now one gratifying thing: one night I looked up, opened my eyes while I was playing, and Miles' [Davis] head was at the end of the piano listening."

It is impossible to write about Evans' career without discussing Davis. In 1958 Davis asked Evans to join his group, which featured saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. After touring with the band for less than a year, Evans played on the classic album Kind Of Blue, for which he composed "Blue In Green," now a jazz standard.

But the passage quoted above points to several other of Evans' defining elements. His modesty notwithstanding, the fact is that many people did already know very well who he was. And like any saloon pianist, he consistently demonstrated what Pettinger terms a professional's ability to disregard a less than congenial environment and take care of business. Finally, Pettinger's book, like countless other magazine articles and web sites, includes photos of Evans deeply hunched over the keyboard, eyes shut, lost in his own private world—a visual image seen so frequently as to be almost stereotypical.

Unsurprisingly, being a pianist himself, Pettinger highlights the unique difference between (non-electric) pianists and their wind, string, and percussion playing band mates. While the latter bring their own instruments to a gig, pianists are figurative prisoners of the club (or dance hall, auditorium, school, etc.) at which they perform. Broken keys, pedals, dampers and strings are commonplace, and ordinarily the performers are precluded from even tuning their instrument.

No exception to this rule, Evans often endured out of tune pianos. But in his case, the ramifications went beyond what (for most) is a relatively minor annoyance. In large measure due to his studies of Debussy and Ravel, Evans routinely wowed his fellow musicians with his technical mastery of the foot pedals, which far outstripped anything his non-classically schooled peers had ever encountered. Of course, if the pedals were non-functional—as they all too often were—this key element of sound and style was simply taken away from him. Perhaps the best comparison would be to think of summarily yanking away a guitarist's pick and forcing him/her to pluck with fingernails and strum with fingertips instead.

Several examples of bad pianos are cited throughout the book, and professional and semi-professional musicians alike will find sour mirth in an Evans quote used by Pettinger as a chapter epigram. "Many clubs," Evans pointed out, "pay more attention to their trash cans than the house piano." If Pettinger succeeds in making some non-musicians (and maybe even a couple of club owners) more aware of this, he will have performed a great service to his fellow ivory-ticklers everywhere.

After his time with Davis, Evans went on to lead a series of groundbreaking trios with a string of now legendary bassists (Scott LaFaro, Chuck Israels, Eddie Gomez and Marc Johnson) and drummers (Paul Motian, Marty Morrell, Philly Joe Jones, Jack DeJohnette, and Joe La Barbera). His concept of the trio—often described as conversational—was much more egalitarian than was usual at the time. Evans gave the bassist and drummer more active roles, encouraging greater interplay among the musicians.

In 1961, shortly after a famed live recording session at the Village Vanguard, LaFaro died in a car crash, an emotionally crushing event that sent Evans into seclusion for several months. This was but one of several devastating deaths of loved ones that he was to experience. As both his former lover Ellaine and his brother Harold committed suicide, there was a special poignancy to his definitive rendition of the "Theme From M*A*S*H" (aka "Suicide Is Painless"), which eventually became one of his signature performance pieces.

Evans was in constant demand as a sideman and recorded with Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Oliver Nelson, Jim Hall, George Russell, Shelley Manne, Toots Thielemans, Kai Winding and J. J. Johnson, along with two memorable dates backing singer Tony Bennett.

Evans also broke ground in ways now considered commonplace. On two solo albums he overdubbed his piano. Although it offended many purists, this recording technique was subsequently employed by other jazz musicians like saxophonists Paul Desmond and guitarist John McLaughlin and now scarcely raises an eyebrow. The foray earned Evans the first of five Grammy awards and elevated him to international stardom as he drew adoring audiences from Paris to Tokyo.

Like Davis, who was recently inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, and who stirred up the wrath of the jazz establishment during his lifetime by using an electrified trumpet and wah-wah pedal, Evans committed the ultimate offense against orthodoxy when he began dabbling with the Fender Rhodes electric piano.

At the time, the electric revolution was sweeping both rock and jazz. Under the sway of the revolutionary zeitgeist of the 1970s, tenor saxophone players like Coltrane and Shorter were reaching for soprano saxophones, and keyboardists like Josef Zawinul were testing their musical creativity against the first analog synthesizers. Bass clarinets and bass flutes, long obscure and under-employed instruments, were dusted off to striking effect by Bennie Maupin and Hubert Laws, two ranking wind players of the era.

Evans was open to new musical approaches that would not compromise his musical and artistic vision, such as his brief associations with avant-garde composer George Russell and his occasional use of electric piano. The ringing quality Evans brought to his right-hand melodies, which at times evoked the celeste, made for a good fit with the bell-like timbre of the Fender Rhodes. As Pettinger describes it, the electric instrument, with its soft attack, slow fade and plucked quality, actually permits pianists to mold smoother lines and control touch shading more easily than the acoustic piano.

Evans brought his exquisite sense of touch, tone and melodic line to the instrument, garnering him what might be considered the supreme accolade: a gushing testimonial from its inventor, Harold Rhodes. "The ultimate vindication for a lifetime of effort spent in the development of a new musical instrument is the thrill of hearing it respond to the deft and sensitive touch of such an artist as Bill Evans," wrote Rhodes. "I have experienced that thrill.... Evans is the musician's musician, the pianist's pianist."

Since the synthesizer explosion of the 1980s, fans of all contemporary music—jazz, rock, new age, even country & western—have become accustomed to seeing keyboardists play two instruments simultaneously. Before Evans, it was rare—one thinks of Ray Manzarak, organist for the Doors, who played a stripped-down Farfisa while pumping out bass lines on a separate, smaller keyboard, but few others.

But when Evans first set a Fender Rhodes at a 90 angle to a Steinway while recording the album From Left to Right in 1970, he changed the keyboard landscape forever. Over the next twenty years, one rarely saw the next generation of jazz piano giants—Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea—performing or recording without a cluster of keyboards draped over and around a Fender Rhodes, still used by many musicians of all genres but now considered a venerable old warhorse from the pre-digital era.

Evans was also largely responsible for reforming chord voicings played by jazz pianists. A voicing is the series of notes used to express a chord. Up until Evans' time chords had been expressed either by spelling the chord, with root, 3rd, 5th, 7th and sometimes 9th, or with a selection of these notes. Also before Evans, Bud Powell had pioneered the so-called shell voicings or alternations between outer and inner notes of a chord.

Evans, however, abandoned roots almost entirely to develop a system in which the chord is expressed as a quality—a color—with the root being left to the bassist, or to the left hand on another beat of the measure, or just left implied. "If I'm going to be sitting there playing roots, fifths and full voicings, the bass is relegated to a time machine," explained Evans. Pioneered and standardized by Evans (who derived it from classical composers), this is now a widely used system, and a student can find it explained in any number of books on jazz piano theory and technique.

Evans formed his last trio in 1978, and this briefly rejuvenated him—after years of heavy heroin and cocaine use he now suffered from hepatitis and other serious ailments. His narcotics addiction was continuing to create family problems and upheavals in his personal life. Despite rapidly failing health, Evans—a trouper to the very end—insisted on working until forced to cancel midweek during an engagement at Fat Tuesday's in New York. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital on September 15, 1980, where he died from a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia. He is buried next to his brother in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

How My Heart Sings shows the reader Evans' clay feet, to be sure, particularly what Nenette described (in a 2001 interview) as his denial that drug use had "certain moral implications, even around children." The couple had purchased a home in suburban Closter, New Jersey, but Nenette's concern about Evans' drug use eventually led her to move into a separate residence in New Haven, Connecticut with the children. Evans moved to a rented apartment in Fort Lee, NJ. However, he and Nenette remained close until to his death.

The quiet ironies of Evans' personal life, just like those in his music, do indeed have a pronounced heartbreak quality. According to one anecdote, Evans—a lefthander who revolutionized the left hand in jazz piano—once showed up for a gig with his right arm virtually useless. He had hit a nerve and temporarily disabled it while shooting heroin, and he performed a full week's engagement at the Vanguard virtually one-handed, a morbid spectacle that drew other pianists to watch. He pulled it off thanks in large measure to his virtuoso pedal technique. According to one bassist in the audience: "If you looked away, you couldn't tell anything was wrong."

As in any junkie's life, sordid details are abundant. The image of Evans, whose phone had been disconnected, calling a string of friends from a telephone booth outside his apartment on a daily basis to cadge money is not pretty. As resentful as they became, his friends were nonetheless reluctant to withhold money, because Evans would then go to loan sharks who threatened to break his hands if he didn't pay them back on time. One such acquaintance was jazz writer Gene Lees, who was responsible for introducing Evans to Helen Keane, who became something like a sister to the troubled pianist.

At one point Lees and Keane colluded with record producers Orrin Keepnews and Creed Taylor to withhold cash from Evans while directly paying his bills, and they appointed the reluctant Lees to break the news. When Lees arrived at Evans' apartment, he found the electricity had been turned off for nonpayment. Evans was dodging the problem by running an extension cord under his door into the hallway and plugging it into a light fixture.

Evans was infuriated at the intervention. He had developed a taste for William Blake's poetry in his college days (as Jim Morrison of the Doors, another self-destructive visionary, did a decade later), and sounding like nothing so much as an over-educated junkie, he rationalized his addiction by exclaiming to Lees melodramatically: "You don't understand. It's like death and transfiguration. Every day you wake in pain like death and then you go out and score, and that is transfiguration. Each day becomes all of life in microcosm."

However, Evans, a fundamentally decent man, never descended into the total amorality usually associated with heroin addicts. On one occasion when Evans tried to borrow money, Lees blew up at him, saying he didn't even have enough for himself to eat; Evans called back an hour later to say he now had enough for both of them to eat. Keepnews said he found it difficult to turn down Evans' request for money because of "the sweetness of his nature and his immense moral decency," unlike other musicians whose turpitude made them easy to turn down. Evans would just quietly wait in Keepnews' office until he relented and gave him some cash.

Lees points out, however, that when Keane got Evans signed to Verve Records and negotiated a large advance from Creed Taylor, Evans took the money and meticulously paid back everyone what he owed them. He came by for Lees in a cab and went from apartment building to apartment building, with Lees holding the cab, armed with his cash and card file, and took care of all his debts. He reimbursed Lees $200 for pawning his record player and some of his records, even going so far as to find Zoot Sims in Stockholm to give him $600, a debt Sims had forgotten.

How My Heart Sings also sheds some unflattering sidelight on Evans' contemporaries. Pettinger faults Philly Joe Jones with being the most to blame for enticing Evans into heroin usage, commenting sardonically: "Bill and Philly Joe became great junkie buddies over the years." A little noted aspect of John Coltrane, who also played with Davis on Kind Of Blue, is revealed. Coltrane's reputation as a gentleman and enlightened soul suffers somewhat when we learn how displeased he was with the presence of a white man in the band. He was apparently never reconciled to sharing the bandstand with Evans, an attitude that undoubtedly contributed to Evans' decision to leave the group after only seven months. However, during this brief but productive period the band recorded ten albums.

Like an inter-racial love affair, Evans' sojourn with Davis was fated to be something of a Romeo And Juliet story. Unquestionably, there were magic moments, but ultimately it didn't work because the cast of characters was not going to let it work. Evans had constantly to deal with racism, and he remembered what he called the silent treatment he received from the band's black audiences. And lest anyone discount this as merely the subjective perception of a hypersensitive person, Pettinger points to a private tape of a performance at the Spotlite Lounge in Washington, DC, that appeared on a pirate Italian CD called Four-Play, which documented this prejudice. For his solo on a tune named "Walkin,'" notes Pettinger, Evans "received noticeably less applause than the other soloists, and for that on 'All Of You,' none at all—and they were both good excursions."

This issue was roiled all over again with Evans' fans after Ken Burns' film Jazz was released in 2001 (three years after How My Heart Sings was first published). A typical complaint found on The Bill Evans Web Pages is resentment at "the fleeting perception left by ... Burns that Bill Evans sprung fully formed from Miles Davis' rib only to evaporate after Kind Of Blue was 'in the can,'"

Jan Stevens, the site's webmaster, points to the film's "zealous Afro-centrism" and attributes this to Wynton Marsalis, a consultant on the film, whom Burns referred to as "the backbone of the film." Stevens notes that Stanley Crouch, Marsalis' admitted mentor, was once overheard giving a diatribe against Evans at a symposium of jazz critics. Evans could not swing, according to Crouch, and there was no trace of the blues in his playing.

Stevens further notes that writer Albert Murray, who also appears in Jazz, is, like Marsalis and Crouch, a "staunch advocate of the orthodoxy of jazz as intrinsically an African-American music—a classicist viewpoint of great inherent merit, yet by being racially exclusionary, one which leaves major jazz innovators like Evans languishing on the periphery." The reason for Burns' short-shrifting of Evans (and other white, Latino and Brazilian musicians), concludes Stevens, "may lie with the Marsalis/Crouch/Murray idea that the European and classical traditions ... are of much lesser import to jazz, and are thus dispensable."

To anyone familiar with Miles Davis and his personality, it is less than surprising to learn of Davis' own race-baiting of Evans. Throughout his career, Davis often showed a mean streak, and he did little to assuage Evan's racially grounded discomfort. According to Evans, when on one occasion he attempted to join in an after-hours musical discussion, Davis abruptly cut him off, saying: "Hey, cool it. We don't want no white opinions." While Davis and his apologists claim that he was just kidding around, others might find this a cruel sort of fun, especially given Evans' sensitive nature.

An anecdote from Davis' own Autobiography gives yet another, even crueler instance of the so-called kidding to which he subjected Evans. While some women may be shocked at this anecdote, any man who has ever endured a rookie initiation into a Boy Scout troop, college fraternity, navy ship, or professional baseball team will recognize the harsh humor (and homoeroticism) of what's known as the hazing ritual—the dark side of male bonding.

" ... Evans was the only white guy in a powerful, prominently black band," wrote Davis. "[I] needed to see if he would be musically intimidated, so [I] said to Evans one day, 'Bill, you know what you have to do, don't you, to be in this band?' "He looked at me puzzled and shit and shook his head and said, 'No Miles, what do I have to do?' I said, 'Bill, now you know we all brothers and shit and everybody's in this thing together, and so what I came up with for you is that you got to make it with everybody, you know what I mean? You got to f**k the band.'

"Now I was kidding," Davis went on, "but Bill was real serious.... "He thought about it for about fifteen minutes and then came back and told me, 'Miles, I thought about what you said and I just can't do it, I just can't do that. I'd like to please everybody and make everyone happy here, but I just can't do that.' I looked at him and smiled and said, 'My man!' And then he knew I was teasing."

Known by his sideman as The Chief, Davis (said to be America's first black millionaire and known as a sharp trader) was not beyond enriching himself at their expense. From the outset of his career, as it became evident that people were coming to see him play, Davis drew clear and stark distinctions between the star and the sidemen, whom he let never let forget were hired hands.

These distinctions were by no means only in terms of pay. For example, while bringing his various paramours along on tour, Davis did not permit his sidemen to do so. This occasioned some bad blood and pitched arguments, notably the case of drummer Jack DeJohnette. His then very pregnant wife, who had come to see the band play at a West Coast club, was publicly harassed by Davis, who refused to play until she left. This outrageous episode provoked DeJohnette into furiously quitting in the middle of the engagement, and he never forgave Davis for it.

DeJohnette and Evans later became band mates, and one can only speculate about discussions they may have had regarding The Chief. Evans, by no means a vindictive person, also bore his own grudge against Davis. In his case, it pertained to the moody "Blue In Green," a very popular composition that has been recorded nearly one hundred times by other artists, according to Ashley Kahn, author of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece.

A much debated issue then and now, there is agreement that Evans, on a visit to Davis' apartment, was handed a piece of paper by the trumpeter with the symbols for two chords (G minor and A augmented) scribbled on it. "What would you do with that?" Davis is said to have asked. Evans spent the next night at Earl Zindars' East Harlem apartment, where he wrote the song. "He stayed up until three o'clock in the morning playing those six bars over and over," says Zindars, who apparently possesses rough sketches by Evans proving it. However, when the album—the best selling jazz album ever with over five million copies purchased worldwide so far, according to Kahn— came out, the song was attributed exclusively to Davis, who consequently collected sizable royalty payments for it. Evans tended to dismiss the issue as a "small matter," but it obviously remained with him.

Near the end of his life, Evans told a friend, Herb Wong, that when Evans suggested he might deserve a share of the royalties, Davis airily offered him a check for $25. "Maybe Miles did it as a joke," mused Wong, "as if to say, 'Come on, are you kidding? Here take this.'" He was quite the kidder, that Miles. By that point in his career, Davis was already exceedingly wealthy by anyone's standards, while Evans struggled financially his entire career. One of Evans' associates joked recently that: "Bill wrote the tune, but Miles got to the copyright office first." However, Evans always had steady work and good management, and his financial problems were largely his own making. And it also bears mention that Davis, who was strong enough to simply walk away from his heroin habit—he quit cold turkey—actively discouraged Evans' drug use.

While Evans thus paid a steep price, literally and figuratively, to play for The Chief, his work with Davis firmly established his reputation and, perversely, his self-esteem. Evans was "brutally self-critical," according to Keepnews, who used to joke about "forming a Demon Band of musicians who never thought they were good enough, never thought they had got it right." (Along with Evans, Keepnews' hypothetical combo would have included Sonny Rollins on saxophone, J.J. Johnson on trombone, and Wes Montgomery on guitar).

At one point, Evans' own ambivalence about being a professional performer went so far as to lead him to the psychiatrist's couch to find out if that was what he really wanted to do. Under the influence of truth serum, he invariably answered "yes." But when Davis chose to him to fill what was then the most coveted piano chair in jazz, Evans was validated to himself. Evans realized that if he was to respect Davis and his ability to judge musical talent, it then followed that he had to respect Davis' opinion of him as a musician.

There is a final paradox about Evans, that applies to How My Heart Sings as well. Casual fans not only do not need to read Evans' biography in order to enjoy his music, they may well find that the book detracts from that enjoyment. Many who have read biographies of famous musicians, painters and writers regret doing so—the tawdry details and unseemly anecdotes about the artist may serve to detract from their enjoyment of the art.

However, as Gopnik astutely noted, Evans has no casual fans—and no one knew this better than Evans himself. In a 1980 interview, shortly before his death, Evans said: "I think some young people want a deeper experience. Some people just wanna be hit over the head and, you know, if then they [get] hit hard enough maybe they'll feel something. ... But some people want to get inside of something and discover, maybe, more richness. And I think it will always be the same; they're not going to be the great percentage of the people. A great percentage of the people don't want a challenge. They want something to be done to them. ... But there'll always be maybe 15 percent that desire something more, and they'll search it out ...."

Evans' comments seem prescient today in light of the overblown stage pyrotechnics, brutish gangsta sensibilities and sheer sledgehammer quality of so much music being listened to by young people today. The overwhelming majority of them have little or no interest in Evans' music, and by extension they will have little or no interest in Pettinger's book.

Like Evans' music, How My Heart Sings is for the 15%.

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