It seems that everyone is looking for the perfect summer reads, and I’ve come across a book that is out of the ordinary but a very compelling read.
Decades ago, I recall listening to The Captain and Tennille, a husband and wife duo with hit songs that included “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Do That to Me One More Time” and “The Way I Want to Touch You.” I’m not much on memoirs, but after reading some of the reviews of Toni Tennille’s autobiography, “Toni Tennille: A Memoir,” I was intrigued.
In many ways, the book is a snapshot into the past. Born in Alabama and raised during the years before and during the Civil Rights Movement, the book brought back memories of the inequalities between races, of discrimination and Toni’s own yearning to make things right. Her “overnight success” was more than a decade in the making, and the book provides a lot of background on what it takes to be successful, including many of the things the public never sees: the grueling schedule, the hotel rooms, the constant travel, the criticisms and most of all, overcoming the odds. A songwriter as well, Toni kept many of her songs to herself, believing they weren’t good enough, until “Do That to Me One Time,” a song she wrote late one night in an empty ballroom at a hotel with an out-of-tune piano, became a hit.
It is also the story of a woman who put her own feelings aside in order to put others first, including her husband Daryl Dragon. As she tells in the book, his insecurities about his receding hairline led to him wearing hats all the time — even excluding them from being able to enter the Vatican, because he refused to remove it. As her career continued to soar with acting that included the critically acclaimed “Victor, Victoria,” he became more obsessed with surfing the Internet for health food information, becoming a hypochondriac. A talented musician who could expertly arrange scores that created their unique sound, he nonetheless always lived in the shadows of his successful father, the conductor, composer, arranger and Oscar winner Carmen Dragon, who is perhaps best known to audiences today for the music in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
In the end, it is the story of a woman who remains true to herself, finding her own voice and starting a life over in her 70s in a cottage she adores in Florida with her Australian Shepherds. The book, “Toni Tennille: A Memoir,” makes for fascinating reading from start to finish.
p.m.terrell is the author of more than 20 books, including two award-winning series set in Lumberton. Her website is www.pmterrell.com.