Book Review: Onstage Offstage

Onstage Offstage, by Michael Bublè, photography by Dean Freeman

On a lark, I picked this book up from the library and found it to be a very excellent one and one that gave me a very personal and honest view of Michael Bublè as a person, and not only as a massively popular adult contemporary singer.  Having written at least somewhat about the author before [1], I did not know the author’s background nor have I ever seen him live.  Yet in reading this book I have a great deal more interest in the author’s music, seeing as he openly admits to having been an awkward and dorky kid and someone who still feels uncool and feels it necessary to try hard and who is honest about both the positive and negative aspects of fame.  It is a hard thing for people as wealthy and successful as Bublè is to feel approachable, not when he is married to an Argentinian star (who happens to be gorgeous) and has sold more than 35 million albums over the course of a long and successful career.  Yet the author manages that difficult tack by taking the approach to stardom that emphasizes the difficulty of making a break and the sometimes adversarial relationship that singers can have with other people in the music business or journalists looking for a story.

The contents of this book are divided into two sections.  The first 80 pages of the book are a memoir written by adult contemporary singer Michael Bublè about his life from birth in a fairly normal Canadian family with strong Italian roots to his marriage and successful career circa 2011.  In this section the reader learns about the long road to stardom that Bublè had, his attitude and sarcasm and pugnacity, his struggle to cross genres and be accepted not only as a brilliant song interpreter but also as a songwriter in his own right.  The sales and awards given to him demonstrate that so far at least he has been successful in balancing the concerns even if his sales are not at the level they once were.  Still, he is a successful singer and likely has a career in singing standards with the occasional original track and charting on adult contemporary radio as long as he wants one.  The rest of the book is made up of photographs of the author’s life, showing him in the studio working on recordings, on tour, and making music videos.  The photos are classy and show a man who is anxious and eager to please others while also being true to himself.

Over and over again, the author demonstrates that he is a man with a considerable amount of fight.  It is remarkable that a singer known for singing such smooth arrangements and being an adult contemporary singer should choose to emphasize his rough edges.  While a certain amount of this book is designed to appeal to the ladies–the author sensibly emphasizes his humble background as well as his sensitivity, what is striking is that the author admits to having been a bully to his younger sisters as well as a brat and someone who struggles with a sense of entitlement as well as a fierce temper.  Few singers of the stature and genre of the author would be likely to write such a warts and all presentation of themselves, but the honesty of the author is certainly appealing and in owning up to who he is and how he sees himself, the author frees himself from false expectations as well as hero worship.  One sees the author as a person of honesty and integrity, and that allows one to buy the persona of the artist and make his music more appealing because of the genuineness of the author’s framing of his life and career.  This is definitely a musical memoir to appreciate.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Music History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: Onstage Offstage

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Bodies On Raw | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Jacques Henri Lartigue: Photographer | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Zen Camera | Edge Induced Cohesion

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