I finished reading Shania Twains autobiography a couple of weeks ago and thought I would write a review of it. For musicians: it’s an interesting read because she goes through the Nashville scene. It’s especially interesting for y’all country nuts out there as well!
She also tells the story about her odd divorce. And I say odd because it involved her friend, who through it all comforted her as her husband became more and more distant; the odd bit is that her friend was the “other woman”, without Shania ever suspecting it. It just shows you how important it is to choose your friends wisely.
We follow her story all the way from the start, from growing up in Canada to becoming the most successful female country artist of all time. Personally I didn’t know a lot about her, I was only a fan of her music. Some of her major hits from the 90s have shaped modern crossover country, and of course pop music in general. I found her book at The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville when I was there a few months ago. I even managed to catch her show in New York days before. Originally I planned to see her show in Toronto prior to that, but didn’t have the time.
It’s alarming to read about how poor they were growing up, and that she never knew her real dad – he was never in the picture. She speaks respectfully about her stepdad in the book, even though he had some awful dark sides. He was abusive to her mother, but they still stuck together until the end despite briefly splitting up.
Her music career started with her singing at bars before her teens, using the money she earned to help her parents at home. She mentions her mother as her first manager, pushing and encouraging her as she climbed up the musical ladder.
There are some wild stories in the book as well. One that sticks out is when she heads off to do her first live television performance at the age of eleven. Her family can only afford a train ticket for Eilleen (which is her real name); an overnight trip to a TV-studio in Toronto. As it happens, she gets on the wrong train, heading towards the Canadian west coast. The conductor makes a few phone calls and they eventually stop the train. Eilleen gets off together with her guitar case in what feels like the middle of nowhere – the conductor had made arrangements with another train to come and pick here up shortly after. It ends well anyway, and she makes it to her first TV-performance. Pretty hair-raising for a young kid though!
Her big break came in 1995 with the release of her second album, The Woman in Me. By then she was already 30 years old – pretty encouraging in a way! Message: never give up, it’s never too late.
In this extract from the book she writes about a nightmare she had the previous night. This is during a period she and the rest of her family had escaped from her abusive stepdad:
A few hours later, my mother was shaking me awake. “Your father’s on the phone,” she said urgently. “He needs to talk to you.”
“I’m too tired,” I mumbled.
“He says it’s very important.”
I came downstairs and picked up the receiver.
“Eilleen, are you all right?” he asked breathlessly.
Hesitantly, I answered, “Yes, I’m fine. Why?” I was anxious at his adamant concern for me, especially after what I’d experienced the night before.
Both her and her stepdad had experienced similar nightmares at the same time she reveals – living hours a part in different cities. I won’t spoil anymore. Pick up a copy of it! Another thing: I couldn’t find a single spelling mistake in the whole book!