October 17, 2008
Love Me Tender: The Stories Behind the World's Best-Loved Songs by Max Cryer
The Times review by Ian McMillan
IT'S ALWAYS been my ambition to write a hit song; a seasonal hit, maybe, that got revived every year like White Christmas. Two verses and a chorus and the royalties would roll in and I'd sit on Malibu Beach raising a glass to the moment of inspiration that set the song in motion.
Max Cryer's Love Me Tender is a marvellous celebration of these elusive moments; it's subtitled “The stories behind the world's best-loved songs”, and it does what it says on the sleeve. It details well-known snippets of songwriting lore: such as that Paul McCartney's first draft of the lyrics of Yesterday consisted of “Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs” to less well-known gems such as that Love Me Tender had its genesis in a minstrel song called Aura Lee, and that Send in the Clowns by Stephen Sondheim was written for the voice of the actress Glynis Johns, so it needed “simple brief phrases, clipped words, almost nothing sustained, plenty of places to breathe”.