Turn Around Bright Eyes: A Karaoke Journey of Starting Over, Falling in Love, and Finding Your Voice (Paperback)
Once upon a time I was falling apart. Now I'm always falling in love.
When Rob Sheffield moved to New York City in 2001, he was a young widower trying to start a new life in a new town. One night, some friends dragged him to a karaoke bar—and that night turned into many nights in many karaoke bars. Karaoke became a way to be someone else if only for the span of a three-minute song, and through the sublime ridiculousness of karaoke, Rob began to find his voice.
And then the unexpected happened. A voice on the radio got Rob's attention. And the voice came attached to a woman who could name every constellation in the sky, every Depeche Mode B side, and could belt out a mean Bonnie Tyler. Turn Around Bright Eyes is a journey of hilarity and heartbreak with a karaoke soundtrack. It's about finding the courage to move on, clearing your throat, and letting it rip—and how songs get tangled up in our deepest emotions.
“Sheffield explores the healing properties of the much-mocked, beloved karaoke culture. He turns the ridiculousness of the aural horror show into something noble and meaningful.”
“In Sheffield’s hands, pop music is more than an object of cultural consumption—it becomes the language through which to navigate and negotiate his most intimate moments.”
“[What’s] remarkable about Sheffield’s new book is how deep he gets writing about how karaoke—bellowing pop songs to the accompaniment of canned backing tracks in front of supportive friends and drunken strangers—lifted him out of his existential gloom.…He examines the healing power of communal singing.”
“Sheffield is fundamentally a gifted essayist.”
“Sheffield comes across as an impressive storyteller, encyclopedic in his knowledge of both high and low culture and convincing in his presentation of loss and redemption through music.”
“Sheffield muses on love, loss, life, Rod Stewart, female Rush fans and much more in an homage to the art and attitude of karaoke.…Eschewing cynicism, [he] writes with a seemingly effortless blend of evocative pathos and spot-on humor that moves and inspires. …Sheffield nails it.”
“Part love story, part ode to music by a lifelong fan…Sheffield doesn’t just know about songs, he feels them and what they do to him, and his fervent writing—part disciple, part critic-makes you feel the music, too. His insights into music’s importance for life and love are refreshing.”
“Rob Sheffield understands music’s power to not only individuate ourselves, but to connect people to one another. His prose keeps such kind, sharp company. In Turn Around Bright Eyes he writes about what, and who, he loves without sentimentality. The world is a better place with Rob Sheffield.”
“Why in God’s name would anyone immerse themselves in the world of karaoke? Well, here’s your answer—and it’s a surprising trip out of some real darkness, set to a soundtrack of cheesy ballads, yelping rockers, and mangled standards. Turn Around Bright Eyes is an absolute treat.”
“Romantic and addictive, Turn Around Bright Eyes is the most passionate and energetic performance. It could just be the funniest book ever written about music.”
“Turn Around Bright Eyes is a touching homage to ‘99 Luftballoons’ and other important chunks of our cultural heritage.”