I’ve found that my commute and trying to alleviate the boredom and my major dislike of commuting was a major factor in the amount of books I’ve read over the past year or so. When the work commutes started I wanted something that I thought would be an easy read and I would have a genuine interest in the story.
A couple of things to point out here. I’m a proper pop music fan, love it! And indeed, have seen Take That live four times. They make for an amazing night out. But, I’ve always thought of Gary Barlow as a bit of a Daniel O’Donnell. I’ve met Daniel, I like him but always thought of both himself and Gary as, well, grandad type performers.
‘A Better Me’ is refreshingly honest from a man who admits he has tried to shun the public side of the music industry for years. Barlow is extremely open about his relationship with food, the good and the bad side that he has experienced. This is littered throughout the book, which on hindsight is perfect, as there are three things at the centre of Barlow’s life, his family, his music and his relationship with food.
Gary’s story tells how he went from Number 1 to being ‘Down the Dumper’ (like the reference Smash Hits fans?) to rebuilding a career that lead to more opportunities than he could have imagined, including organising the Queen’s Jubilee celebration concert. It also tells of the great Robbie Williams reconciliation and a few stories of what backstage at X Factor was really like.
Away from the spotlight, ‘A Better Me’ shows us a music nerd, who is always learning more about his craft, his music equipment, taking chances within the music and entertainment industry and in Gary’s case, once remaining true to yourself, having those chances pay off.
However, no one’s life is all ‘happy in the garden’. In the book, Gary describes what he considers the lowest point of his life, his eating disorder and how he didn’t leave the house after Take That. He also tells of the heartbreaking anguish when he and his wife, Dawn, cradled their stillborn baby Poppy. Gary also tells of the trauma of being caught on a train involved in the 7/7 bombings in 2005 in London, something I was previously unaware of.
The book shows Gary to be a down to earth kinda guy. Like everyone, he’s had his ups and downs. Most of his have just been in the public eye. It never shys away from what Gary’s truth is, although, it’s very obvious that some of those are very painful. That is passed on to the reader. For a fan, you would definitely have a better idea of what makes the man tick, a more rounded view rather than just his public persona.
I’m not sure a non pop music fan or non Take That fan would read this book but if he’s got enough people to sell out stadium tours, he’s already got a loyal readership.