Greg Prato is a very prolific author who has churned out 22 books about music, as well as four books on professional sports teams. Prato is a meticulous researcher who is passionate about the subjects he writes about, and as a result his books are highly regarded (all have four and five star ratings on Amazon).
His latest release is Facts on Tracks: Stories Behind 100 Rock Classics. What Prato has done is comb through his works and pull quotes about those 100 songs from the musicians who were in the studio as the songs were recorded.
Most of Prato’s books have a distinct hard rock/heavy metal slant, but the 100 tracks in this book cover many different genres. As a sub-category, they range from some of the most famous songs in rock (Hotel California, The Eagles; Message in a Bottle, The Police) to obscure tracks that only hardcore fans will recognize (Alison Hell, Annihilator; Bound for the Floor, Local H). The backstories on some of the songs, such as Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones run three pages, while others such as Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower are but a single paragraph. As Prato writes in the introduction to the book: “This reflects entirely upon the interviewee—if they were in a talkative mood that particular day, I was in luck. If not…not so much.”
When we listen to a song, we all have ideas about it: What is the meaning of the lyrics? Was that intricate guitar solo recorded in a single take? Did the recording go smoothly, or was there disagreement amongst the band members over the arrangement?
Without giving away spoilers, some of the backstories on these tracks will surprise the reader’s preconceived notions. (As a bonus, Prato also includes stories about the making of music videos for some of the songs).
After perusing the book, the reader will quickly want to become the listener, going back and playing these songs with a new appreciation of what went into the writing, recording and production process.