We’re a bit late to the pass with this one, as it was released in the latter part of last year, but we didn’t want to miss out on a chance to review a book from one of the best ‘new’ artists to come out of Nashville in recent years, and this is a book well worth the reading.
Margo Price has to be praised for writing such an open and honest account of her early life as a musician, struggling to ‘make it’ in the modern day music business. Reading this book, you can’t help but think that every wannabe music star should be sat down and forced to read this before they embark on their first gig, because this is an incredibly honest account of just how difficult it can be to even get on the bottom rung of that long climb to the top. And this is coming from a woman who has talent to spare, both as a singer and a songwriter.
Now, I said “forced to read this”, which makes ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’ sound like a book that’s hard to read, and nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a little time to hit its stride but, as a story, it gathers pace quite quickly and the final third of the book seems to pass in a flash because there’s a sort of tipping point, after which it becomes almost impossible to put this book down. Even though you know the ending (or do if you’ve paid any attention to Margo Price’s career to date) you still want to read what she has to say and how she’s going to say it. This book is every bit as compelling as her songs; it’s really quite a roller coaster ride.
On first seeing that Margo Price had decided to write “a memoir” there’s a natural tendency to be sceptical. She is now only 39 years old, which seems more than a little premature to be writing an autobiography but, reading this book, you can understand just how much living she has packed into her life to date and how she might want to let some of that memory out, both to clear her mind for future, better memories and to act as a cautionary tale to those that follow.
Much of the first part of the book reads like an extended road trip, albeit one that’s fuelled by drugs and alcohol, and a need to put her music out there in whatever shape or form she can find an audience for. You really get a feel for the struggle to build a repertoire and an audience and why bands often turn to other substances to keep them going on the road to success. Price is very open about her use of drugs and alcohol and about, eventually, deciding to put alcohol out of her life because it was becoming increasingly damaging. In fact, you start out feeling that you really don’t need to read about all the substance abuse, and that the drugs were probably a lot more fun to take than to read about, but you quickly come to realise that drugs and drink are, effectively, two characters in the story she’s telling. They’re almost additional members of her band and, at times in the early days, they seem more important than some of the musicians.
The book takes a noticeably darker turn when she gives birth to her twin boys. One of them, Ezra, only lives for two weeks, falling victim to a heart ailment. Now, in addition to trying to keep her ambitions on track, caring for a new child, the constant battle of financial difficulties and a marriage that’s already under a lot of stress, Price has to deal with the loss of her child and the depression that follows. That she manages to hold it all together and, eventually, emerge triumphant, is a testament to her belief in herself and the support of friends and family, which she freely acknowledges in the book. A picture emerges of a woman who knew what she wanted from life and was prepared to pursue it at all costs, and the costs were often very high, but she comes across as someone with dogged determination; someone who doesn’t really compromise very much. By her own admission she’s probably not very easy to live with; but despite some rocky times, something else she’s very honest about, her husband, Jeremy Ivey, emerges as one of the heroes of the book; a man who is sometimes lost in the maelstrom of Price’s vision for her future but who is fiercely loyal and, ultimately, fully supportive. Neither of them comes across as a saint, by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s an earnestness and commitment as a couple that is also one of the characters in this book and one that looks increasingly important as the story unfolds.
This book is, quite simply, a great read. It’s a simple summation of one woman’s vision for her future and the things she endures to achieve it. The fact that her road to success has been so rocky is something of a shock when you consider the depth of her talent, but it also shows that real talent will, eventually, find the recognition it deserves. Many musicians, embarking on their first book, seek the help of a ghostwriter, someone who can turn their experiences into a readable piece of prose. Price has resisted that temptation and the book is all the better for it. Yes, it’s a bit rough and ready in places but it does come across as authentic and the voice of experience, and that’s what gives it its credibility. It will be interesting to see if there’s another book to come from Margo Price in the future. Will she revisit the development of her career at a later date and, if so, how will that compare to the raw honesty of this book? Something to anticipate, maybe.
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