‘I have always loved the lines from Rudyard Kipling:
If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same...
Career-wise, I guess I've experienced a 50/50 mix of the two, and I have always tried to turn a 'No' into a 'Yes'!'
Simon May is one of the most successful and celebrated composers for television the UK has ever produced. Best known for writing the ‘EastEnders' theme - whose evocative drum beat gives this book its title - Simon's long and impressive list of TV themes includes the 1980s smash-hit drama series ‘Howards' Way', as well as such perennial favourites as ‘Holiday' and ‘Animal Park'. In Doof Doof: My Life in Music, Simon describes the creation of these works, his lifelong vocation as a teacher and even his short-lived pop career, with self-deprecating humour and the sharp eye of the true professional.
With a wealth of music and TV anecdotes from Simon's more than 40 years in the business, Doof Doof is a vivid and engaging self-portrait of a successful composer, entrepreneurial businessman, earnest educator and committed family man.
A lot of us have never heard of Simon May, I know I didn’t until I was offered the chance to read this book. But many of us, perhaps most of us, will recognise the Eastenders theme tune. Well Simon May is the man who wrote that theme tune, along with countless others over the years, and this is his autobiography.
I’ll have to admit I wasn’t sure the book would keep me interested in reading it, considering I had never heard of the man. But the more I read the more I liked it and despite knowing nothing about Simon May I really enjoyed finding out about his life. The book is written in a really easy to read way, as if a friend is telling you about their life. Just like the way people talk, Simon darts forwards and backwards throughout the book, although generally going from his early childhood through to today, there are many moments that he’ll refer to something from the past or future.
There are many humorous moments in the book, such as Simon’s early ‘broadcast’ to his most loyal fan, his cocker spaniel – that one really made me laugh! He loves to tell little anecdotes which are scattered throughout his autobiography which really make you smile as you read through the book. Of course there are more serious moments too and I was particularly moved with the dedication he has had to his students throughout his teaching career. He has always encouraged students and taught that ‘no’ is spelt ‘yes’ and he certainly sounds like the teacher I wish I had had when I was at school.
Although it is his autobiography, this book is so much more than that and Simon gives his personal and honest views on things such as the education system. Along with that he also has plenty advice for people who want to get into the music industry, not only uplifting advice but actual practical advice such as how to set up your own home studio and certain recommended contacts.
Being an autobiography there are of course some lovely glossy colour images of Simon, his family and other pictures but the black and white paper pages also have some images of things such as his first pay check and letters from his students. The book also has other features. You will notice as you are reading it that there are circled numbers that occasionally appear along side the main text. These are track numbers of songs that appear on ‘The Simon May Collection’, a 3 cd album available now. It’s a collection of his best work but the individual numbers refer to the tracks that trigger that particular emotion or memory. It would be wonderful to get the CD set to see which songs trigger which emotions, and perhaps play them while reading this book. I can certainly understand how a certain piece of music can bring back a memory form years ago!
At the end of the book some other extras such as some of the tracks from his album along with their lyrics which is a great bonus along with the Desiderata poem. I love the fact that Simon refers to Desiderata and it’s nice to have the poem added to the end of his autobiography to inspire and lift you up.
After reading this book I haven’t just felt moved but felt inspired. I only ever dabbled in playing the piano when I was at school but it’s made me want to play again, to see if I can create some music :). I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the man behind the music. He’s a wonderful, inspiring and friendly sounding guy who I would love to meet in person. It’s a fun read and even if you don’t know half of the shows he’s created, it really doesn’t matter.
This book is great for all ages, there’s no profanity of any kind – except for one place where he describes the reaction of somebody in a situation, but this is starred so no need to worry :).
A great inspiring and funny read about a man who many of us have never hear of! A great book I can recommend.
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