Reviewing Toni Tennille: A memoir
When I bought Toni Tennille’s autobiography Toni Tennille: A memoir, I have to confess I had absolutely no idea who she was. I’d never heard of her band (Captain and Tennille), and neither did I recognise her. This seems, probably therefore, a rather improbable choice of download but sometimes I like just to learn about something I know nothing about. (Also the mention of her beautiful Southern accent and voice on one of the reviews intrigued me, as the novel I’ve just finished called Under the Surface – not yet released – has a character from Charleston.)
From the moment I started the book, I was captivated. It turns out I did know one or two of Captain and Tennille’s songs (only vague recollections from my very early childhood though) but it didn’t really matter. What this book is really about is Toni and her husband Daryl Dragon’s amazing artistic telepathy, which unfortunately did not extend to their romantic relationship (if you can even call it that). The memoir also gives an excellent account of growing up in the segregated South with an alcoholic father and resentful but accomplished mother, and becoming a pop sensation in the seventies and eighties.
Toni comes across as an extremely likeable, if somewhat idealistic person who believes almost her whole life in the healing nature of love. She adores her sisters and is crazy about her dogs. Daryl, however, is quirky, to put it mildly. There are memorable descriptions of his strange eating habits, which include a grapefruit regime that left Toni starving. Another habit was to wear his hat at all times, even if this meant he and Toni would be refused access to the Vatican, where Toni had hoped to see the Sistine Chapel.
It would only be fair to say, however, that this is entirely Toni’s point of view, and one can only wonder if some of the incidents have been exaggerated for effect. (But one doesn’t get that impression.) I thought the book was totally fascinating – so much so that my poor children had to listen to various Captain and Tennille songs – until the moaning in the back of the car got too much to bear.
Highly recommended – especially for a behind-the-scenes look at pop music – from the perspective of someone who was not too high on drugs to remember what happened.