The mysterious true story of Connie Converse—a mid-century New York City songwriter, singer, and composer whose haunting music never found broad recognition—and one writer's quest to understand her life.
Readers might reasonably wonder if such an artist merits a doorstop like this one ... Fishman, a songwriter and musician as well as a cultural journalist, answers the question by turning Converse’s very lack of acceptance into its own subject. To Anyone is the grandly researched portrait of a talent who didn’t get her due, a kind of worst-case study of why this indignity remains a brutally common occurrence ... Fishman’s passion for this music and his devotion to uncovering its origins are infectious, and form a secondary plot of the book ... Simultaneously the record of an obsession and its ultimate payoff. It’s hard to think of any book that grants such loving attention to an artist who has otherwise been denied it ... Connie Converse may never reach the broad audience that those projects found; her music is gorgeous but low-key and elusive, like candid black-and-white photos from a time when everyone smoked indoors. But To Anyone Who Ever Asks is a rich paean to it, and to the profound connections that art can form between individuals, even decades apart.
Gripping and searching ... Mr. Fishman lacked the vast public record most music biographers sift through. He found something better: the five-drawer filing cabinet in Philip Converse’s garage filled with hundreds of recordings, photographs, slides, lyrics, and meticulously archived letters ... Mr. Fishman’s thoughtful and deeply researched book provides a far bolder jolt than any cover version can provide.
Fishman’s cri de coeur effort to piece together the puzzle that was Connie Converse, to make the case for her singular talent, and to bring her songs—at long last—to the attention of the broad audience Fishman believes they deserve ... Perhaps because many of those who knew Converse died before Fishman could interview them, perhaps because there was little in the public record, To Anyone Who Ever Asks has a rather high ratio of speculation to certainty ... Still, Fishman’s passion for his subject is contagious, his sense of mission inspiring.