Review: Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?, Todd Decker

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
'Who Should Sing Ol' Man River?' tells the almost 80-year performance history of a great popular song. Examining over 200 recorded and filmed versions of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's classic song, the book reveals the power of performers to remake one popular song into many different guises.

Todd Decker is Associate Professor of Music at Washington University in St Louis, where he teaches courses on popular music and film.

When I saw this book up on Netgalley I was intrigued. I am not American but I love musical theatre so I do know the song... but still 256 pages on one song? Knowing the background of the song a bit it can be an interesting study to try and figure out who should sing this song but Decker actually tries to avoid the whole discussion. Instead the book focuses on the multiple variations, parodies and music styles in which the song keeps returning. Though there is a lot of information in the book, the mentions that this version has a YouTube video here and that person also sang a great version of a different songs chases you to the internet to look for even more information. Good thing that there is a playlist on a website having examples from discussed versions in the book and when available links to whole versions. All this information though makes it a slow read and you get easily distracted from the book. It is fun to have all that information for this one song in one book though and there are some interesting facts hidden in the chapters. There could have been less pages though as a lot of things get repeated.

Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?
Author: Todd R Decker
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 256
Format: eArc
ISBN-10: 0199389187
ISBN-13: 9780199389186
Original title: Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?: The Lives of an American Song
Oxford University Press: Hardcover
Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?
3 stars

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03 November, 2014 delete

This one ended up being a DNF for me. :( Like you said, it got kind of repetitive. I think I had too much of a background on the song going in to the book, too.