Bob Harris: Still whispering after all these years – Bob Harris

A fairly candid autobiography of Bob Harris the DJ and television broadcaster.  This book tells Bob’s story from his early life, his adult personal life and his life in and around music from the 1970s up to the present day.

I’m not really old enough to “get” Bob Harris.  By the time I was old enough to watch Old Grey Whistle Test it was Janice Long presenting and the programme was past its best.  I enjoyed listening to Bob’s Saturday late night programme when it was on Radio 2.  I didn’t like all the music but I did like how eclectic it was and how knowledgeable Bob was.  I think my response to the book reflects this; don’t really get the cultural references and some of it is interesting and thought-provoking.

I did enjoy learning more about the Old Grey Whistle Test.  I loved learning that the phrase emanated from the Brill Building and the way the song writers knew if they had written a hit or not.  It was also interesting to find out how the programme was made and just how involved everyone was in the planning and execution of each one.

I liked finding out more about the music business from a non-musician’s perspective.  It adds to what I’ve learned from the autobiographies of musicians like Springsteen, Keith Richards and John Lydon.

Harris himself doesn’t come out of the book particularly well.  I think he sums it up quite well when he says he was a married man living the life of a single man.  He comes across as quite selfish and self-centred in his private life.

The book seems to run out of steam towards the end – perhaps Harris had a deadline to meet – and I think the quality of the book deteriorates.  The later chapters are a bit of a “famous people I know” fest and the writing becomes trashy-novelesque, with all friendships being “deep and meaningful” relationships; what happened to just being good friends with someone and simply enjoying their company?

Another of those 2/3s good forget the last 1/3 books.

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