Peter Blood & Annie Patterson, editors,
Rise Again Songbook
(Hal Leonard, 2015)

Back in 1992, Peter Blood and Annie Patterson put together Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Songbook, a collection of the lyrics and chord structures of 1,200 songs, divided by category and grouped about six to the page. It was one of the most eccentric books around -- its table of contents was on the inside front cover and it was laid out so that the odd-numbered pages were on the left and the even were on the right, the exact opposite of more traditional books. The book invented a chord diagram system all its own, so that you had to learn to use it to learn the songs. The book also lacked melody sheets; until Sing Out, which issued the book, finally put out a CD that contained the tunes, you had to track down the music in order to learn a song whose melody was not familiar to you.

Rise Up Singing sold more than 100,000 copies.

In Hollywood, they would look at those numbers for that product and claim that they had a potential franchise on their hands. I don't know if Blood and Patterson were thinking franchise, but they certainly recognized that the time was right for a companion volume.

Again, we have the words and chord symbols for 1,200 songs, and again the table of contents is on the inside front cover but at least the page numbering follows a conventional form and, this time, the editors have arranged for readers to be able to purchase a lead sheet containing the melody for any song in the book.

I couldn't detect any overlap between the songs in this book and the ones in Rise Up Singing; the editors have tracked down more than 1,000 songs that didn't make it into their previous title. This time also, their reach is wider; categories include not only the standard and expected ballads, old songs, blues and gospel, they also include Broadway, dreams and mystery, rock, classic country and, under the classification millennial songs, a healthy dose of indie rock.

You can, as I did on several occasions, get lost for hours just thumbing the pages and checking the contents. You'll find a song and that will cause you to wonder if a different song is there, so you'll check it out and before you know it, you've missed happy hour.

Both titles are designed to be used for group singing and they are excellent for that purpose. They are also a treasure chest, open with goodies spoiling out everywhere,for anyone searching for new songs to play and sing.

Do I recommend the Rise Again Songbook? Oh, hell, yes, I recommend it enthusiastically, just as I do its predecessor. You'll want both titles.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

21 November 2015

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