Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
Digital Audiobook narrated by Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 6, 2015
Genres: Autobiography, Biography, Memoir, Music, Non-Fiction
Length: 208 pages or 3 hours, 52 minutes
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A candid and down-to-earth collection of essays by five-time, Grammy Award nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, exploring her life in song; raw, evocative, and utterly unforgettable.
Sara Bareilles shot to fame in 2007 with her hit single; Love Song, and her more recent chart-topping hit; Brave, but her journal as a songwriter started long before. In this candid book of essays, Sara pulls back the curtain to expose her songwriting process, revealing all the struggle and joy inherent in creating great work while staying true to yourself.
Showcasing her stripped down and confessional writing style, Sara's entertaining and inspirational book tells the inside stories behind her most popular songs and offers insights into finding balance between making art for herself and commercial music for her listeners.
The first time I remember listening to Sara Bareilles’s “Love Song” was in 2009. It took about that long for the song to be adopted by Retail Radio, and I heard it while tidying an aisle one particularly slow Sunday morning. I’m sure I heard the song before that, but it was the first time I has really listened. I wasn’t familiar with Sara Bareilles before that, but it was the song I needed at the moment. I was struggling with a boyfriend I hated (whom I still didn’t manage to shake for another two years) and listening her say “I’m not going to write you a love song because you asked for it, because you need it” was something I just wanted to scream at the guy. I didn’t want to be the person he wanted all the time – sometimes I just wanted to be me.
After that, Sara Bareilles’s music became a bit of a refuge for me – she spoke the words I needed to say, but couldn’t. Her song “King of Anything” is still one of my favorites. Songs from her Broadway musical Waitress have kept me afloat in my darkest moments. Her memoir Sounds Like Me has been on my TBR for a few years, because I really wanted to know more about the lady behind the music that I loved so much.
Right from the get-go, you can tell that writing this book was a struggle for Sara. She admits it – how she put it off, tried to back out of it, but is grateful people kept pushing her forward. The whole thing sits a bit awkwardly, like a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a long time and trying to fill the emptiness with stories from the past. It is made up of stories and anecdotes from both Sara and others. Lyrics to a few of her songs are woven within essays.
For much of the book, Sara focuses on her experience in school being body shamed, and how that inspired her work. The rest of the book chooses stories around her most successful songs – “Gravity”, “Love Song”, and “Brave”. She also speaks in one section a little bit about writing for Waitress. All the sections are a little bit rambling and leave room for more details, like the edges of a story but not the heart of it. This actually surprised me – I find Sara’s music so full of heart, I really thought her book would feel the same.
This isn’t to say that she didn’t try, because it is clear she did. This is not her medium.
Outside of the actual crafting of the book, I was a bit disappointed. There is nothing more rewarding in reading a memoir than finding a person who inspires you (My Life on the Road) or someone you unexpectedly relate to (The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo). While others will be invigorated and inspired by Sara’s story, I was not. To me, Sara is a person with talent who worked hard, surrounded herself with supportive people, and makes music. I still love her music, but I feel nothing special towards her as a person. I’m happy she became a musician and I am grateful for the songs she has written that are close to my heart.
Overall, I really could take or leave this book. I think that big fans of Sara’s will enjoy it, but as far as memoirs go, there’s nothing about it that makes her story jump off the page.