All In Good Time HC Jonathan Schwartz Random House 2004


SKU: 17145 Category:


All in Good Time: A Memoir Hardcover
by Jonathan Schwartz (Author)

All in Good Time is a luminous memoir about growing up in the shadow of the golden age of songwriting and Sinatra, from the celebrated radio personality and novelist Jonathan Schwartz.

“Dancing in the Dark.” “That’s Entertainment.” “By Myself.” “You and the Night and the Music.” They are part of the American Songbook, and were all composed by Arthur Schwartz, the elusive father at the center of his son’s beautifully written book.

Imagine a childhood in which Judy Garland sings you lullabies, Jackie Robinson hits you fly balls, and yet you’re lonely enough to sneak into the houses of Beverly Hills neighbors and hide behind curtains to watch real families at dinner.

At the age of nine, Jonathan Schwartz began broadcasting his father’s songs on a homemade radio station, and would eventually perform those songs, and others, as a pianist-singer in the saloons of London and Paris, meeting Frank Sinatra for the first time along the way. (His portrait of Sinatra is as affectionate and accurate as any written to date.)

Schwartz’s love for a married woman caught up in the fervor of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and his other relationships with both lovers and wives, surround his eventually successful career on New York radio.

The men and women who have roles to play include Richard Rodgers, Nelson Riddle, Carly Simon, Jimmy Van Heusen, Bennett Cerf, Elizabeth Taylor, and, of course, Sinatra himself.

Schwartz writes of the start of FM radio, the inception of the LP, and the constantly changing flavors of popular music, while revealing the darker corners of his own history.

Most of all, Jonathan Schwartz embraces the legacy his father left him: a passion for music, honored with both pride and sorrow.

Fans of Schwartz, a fixture of New York–area radio, will instantly recognize his voice resonating through each page of this memoir, especially in the ironic downbeats on which many of his mininarratives end. As might be expected from the son of Broadway composer Arthur Schwartz (who wrote the music to “Dancing in the Dark,” among other songs), the story is equal parts pop standards and family drama; his terminally ill mother dominates early sections, and though the obsession with song has already begun in these chapters, it kicks into high gear after her death in memorable passages such as Schwartz’s telling of the first time he heard Frank Sinatra’s “Birth of the Blues” in a Manhattan bar. The role of keeper of the musical canon functioned as a barrier behind which Schwartz could hide much of his emotional trauma, akin to other secret identities recounted here, but raw pain leaks out in increasing amounts, especially in brutal passages depicting his voluntary commitment for psychiatric evaluation and a later stay at the Betty Ford clinic. Glancing swipes at former radio colleagues drip with venom, while fights with his stepmother are recreated in visceral dialogue including many words he couldn’t utter on radio. Although filled with celebrities, from childhood playmate Carly Simon to adult father figure Sinatra, the memoir succeeds best on its most intimate levels, revealed in the most paradoxical of measured tones.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Random House; First Edition

Jonathan Scwartz’s memoir reads like a novel, not surprising as he has put in much effort writing fiction (described in the book). The story is so American. We are taken through Hollywood of the 30s and 40s; the musical environment of New York in the 40s and 50s; the idyllic summer in Connecticut; the unsettling whir of the 60’s; and into the 70s, featuring the Betty Ford clinic, a sad symbol of that decade. Near the end, the death of his famous father and the birth of his own children, finally, in the 80s. The book ends with his arrival on FM, where he broadcasts live 8 hours a weekend on WNYC 93.9.

The is much richness along the way. And it’s interesting to me what he chose to leave out, for example his relationship with Richard Rodgers. The Red Sox, his team, are not discussed as much as you’d might expect (for those interested in this aspect of his quirky life, I recommend his “A Day of Light and Shadows”). He does however describe his friendship with Ned Martin, the Red Sox radio broadcaster in the 1960s — I particularly liked that part as I spent many a night listening to Martin as a child in Massachusetts.

Finally, there is sadness in the book, along with the joy, but no self pity. And humor shines through regardless.

Dust jacket has picked up a few stains. 0-375-50480-X.


Book is in near mint condition.