If the writer of such hit songs as Walking in the Rain sung by the Ronettes or On Broadway sung by the Drifters was to write a book, I’m Glad I Did would be the book. She did and this is the book.
Taking place in the mid-1960s, I’m Glad I Did is a combination of historical fiction, romance and mystery. Named Justice because her parents are lawyers and their children were expected to follow suit, JJ Green wants to break ranks and become a song writer. Having just graduated high school at age 16, she gets a summer internship in the famous song writing emporium, the Brill Building (home to Neil Diamond, Carole King and more). The catch is, because she is under age, she needs her parents’ consent. Unhappy with this turn of events, they strike a deal. If JJ doesn’t get a song published during her 3 month internship, she’ll give up her song writing dream. The Green family has had experience in the industry: her mother’s estranged brother, the noted Bernie Green, is a song publisher and producer (in the era of payola).
Three things happen in the book:
- JJ strikes up a relationship with Bernie–to her mother’s chagrin.
- JJ meets Luke, the son of Bernie’s former partner–of course, the love interest.
- JJ meets Dulcie Brown, a former famous singer whose short lived career ended in drug abuse–the mystery.
Weil sprinkles the book with the names of famous singers and songs of the era. (As you read, you can hear Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, the Shirelles and the Crystals playing in your head.) She mentions the payola scandals of the times, the space shots, Martin Luther King and the March on Washington. She points out segregation. In essence, she hits all the right notes (pun intended).
I’m Glad I Did is an upbeat, light-hearted romp through the 60s. For those of us old enough to remember the 1960s, it brings back memories. (For me, it was lying in bed, late at night, listening to the radio very low because my parents weren’t Rock ‘n Roll fans and hearing the house painters blasting the radio and hearing Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison–that was a treat.)
Of course, there’s a book quote from Carole King, the singer/song writer, praising the book, but I’d expect nothing less.
If you’re in the mood to go back in time, try I’m Glad I Did.
P.S. If you’re interested, Cynthia Weil also wrote We Gotta Get Out of This Place (the Animals), You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (the Righteous Brothers), Only in America (Jay and the Americans), Kicks (Paul Revere and the Raiders) and Just a Little Lovin’ Early in the Morning (Dusty Springfield).