I'm not generally a big music person - I'm not the type that is constantly hooked up to an iPod or streaming Pandora. The music I do listen to, however, I like to know a lot about. The lyrics at a bare minimum. When VH1's Behind the Music debuted, I was totally fascinated because I wanted to know what inspired people to write the songs they did. The Girl in the Song fulfills that need for me, describing the women who inspired 50 rock songs, by artists ranging from Buddy Holly to David Bowie.
Heatley arranges the songs by title and methodically spends a couple of pages on each song, dedicating most of the text to a biography of the woman and/or how she inspired the artist, and then in a box at the end gives a short introduction to the band or artist (as necessary - eventually all of the Beatles and Rolling Stones pages are dedicated just to the woman, because there's only so much you can say about those legendary groups without becoming redundant).
Perhaps because the book is limited to "rock" songs, it sometimes feels a little redundant - as I said, there are a lot of Beatles and Rolling Stones references. Even David Bowie has multiple entries. I'm far from a music encyclopedia, but were there no other songs worthy of having their stories told?
That being said, I did like that variety that is included. Most of the songs are well known by now, and some of the background stories are well known, too, but others are more obscure. Leonard Cohen wrote Chelsea Hotel No 2 about Janis Joplin. "Fire and Rain" was written in part as a memorial to a dead friend. I was especially fascinated when the same person came up multiple times. English model/photographer Pattie Boyd inspired at least three songs by two different artists - husbands George Harrison and Eric Clapton, and the Farrow sisters Mia and Prudence both inspired famous songs.
I really appreciate that Heatley keeps most of the focus on the women who served as inspiration for the songs. The artist's side of the story has already been shared with millions of people - it's about time the woman's side was shared. Heatley highlights how the songs popularity affected the women, and their own career accomplishments.
This is a quick read, but extremely fun for pop culture and music trivia fans. While it's not specifically a YA title, I think it will have a lot of interest for young music fans, and could be a great companion read to a book like Audrey Wait, which is all about how life changes dramatically for a girl who inspires a major hit song.