Nobody, it seems, was more surprised by the crooner’s car ad-inspired second wind than the man himself. It’s only fair, then, that the old boy should capitalise on his reinvigorated popularity with this breezy account of his life.
Taking in his early steps on to the Iowan stage as one quarter of The Williams Brothers (when his father would make the boys forego homework, sports and girls in favour of rehearsals); the dark days on the club circuit that saw a desperate Williams eating dog food; and his subsequent, monumental success as TV’s top singing star, the tone throughout is as accessible and enjoyably saccharine as much of Williams’ music. The likes of Sinatra and Judy Garland make fleeting appearances, but it’s Williams’ close friendship with Bobby Kennedy in the run-up to his assassination that gives the book its most heartfelt passages.
Perpetually self-effacing, Williams’ later reinvention as the owner and star of his own Missouri theatre is as syrupy an episode as those found elsewhere in the book, but his unexpected appearance back on the charts in his 70s (thanks to his music soundtracking a Fiat advert) is handled with a warmth and modesty that it’s impossible not to fall for.