'Yanni In Words' startling, refreshing By Sharon Haddock Deseret News staff writer
YANNI IN WORDS, by David Rensin, Hyperion, New York, 2002, hardback, 318 pages, $24.95.
"Yanni In Words" is welcome water to a thirsty audience. For years, even before Yanni disappeared from the musical scene, fans were frustrated trying to uncover details about this mystical musician, his origins, his thoughts, his loves. "Yanni In Words" is almost startlingly candid. There's a boldness that surprises the reader, particularly given the passion for privacy that Yanni is known to have. He shares the backstage, the inside of the bus and his romantic, intense relationship with TV's "Dynasty" actress Linda Evans, who actually contributes to the book her version of several landmark moments in Yanni's career. It's a compelling read, even for the non-Yanni fan, as it tells the story of touring, rehearsing, battling industry frustrations and foreign-country bureaucratic red tape. It's fascinating to go behind the scenes of the costly and precedent-setting concerts at the Acropolis in Greece, the Taj Mahal in India and the Forbidden City in China. Woven throughout is the story of a man possessed by his music, driven almost to madness as he tries to bring his message and music to a world that wants him to fit into a neat little box. It's a story of a stubborn man who believes in himself and cannot comprehend duplicity in others. He expects a fair shake and consequently has sometimes been betrayed. The story begins in Kalamata, Greece, with a little boy christened Yianni Chryssomallis, who loved the family songs and decided early on he must be a part of the music, a recipient of the adoration he saw in his father's eyes when his mother sang. It winds through an idyllic childhood blessed with compassionate parents and opportunities that only come with the ocean and the freedom of a village. The reader is introduced to the family and to the culture, to the accidental champion swimmer and to the American rock 'n' roll psychology student. Yanni shares his triumphs, as well as his disappointments. He talks about road groupies and going over, for a time, to the lure of drugs and drink and other vices. With him, you travel to Mexico and China and India. With him, you take risks and spend millions, hoping the Gods will ï¿½ in the end ï¿½ be with you. Every once in awhile, he waxes simplistically philosophical but that's kept in check until the very end of the book. For the most part, it comes across really as a frank introduction to the artist, the man ï¿½ with very little censored out. For some, it may be a little unsettling, perhaps dismaying to realize this guy is very human and very Greek. He's also strong, opinionated and intense. It's possible ï¿½ judging by some of the transcripted conversations in the book ï¿½ that's he also obsessive. But he's also fairly aware of all of that: "Some have called me the musical Messiah. I don't think so."
Thanks YMM. The review makes a nice addition to my scrapbook. After this past weekend in St. Louis, I have enough pictures, mementos, etc. to fill a dozen scrapbooks....but they are filling up fast with all the wonderful things that are being saved for memories. Love, Bluebird