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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel

4.5/5 (68 avaliações)
449 página
6 horas
Lançado em:
Nov 10, 2015


Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

In his most stunning novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures—with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.

At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear—just before his spectacular death—to change one last life.

With its Forest Gump-like romp through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers a remarkable novel, infused with the message that “everyone joins a band in this life” and those connections change us all.

Lançado em:
Nov 10, 2015

Sobre o autor

Mitch Albom is a bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and nationally syndicated columnist. The author of five consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, his books have collectively sold more than thirty-three million copies in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays With Morrie, which spent four straight years atop the New York Times list, is now the bestselling memoir of all time. Four of Albom’s books, including Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and Have a Little Faith, have been made into highly acclaimed TV movies for ABC. Oprah Winfrey produced Tuesdays With Morrie, which claimed four Emmy awards including a best actor nod for Jack Lemmon in the lead role. Albom has founded six charities in and around Detroit, including the first-ever twenty-four-hour medical clinic for homeless children in America, and also operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Albom lives with his wife, Janine, in metropolitan Detroit.

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto - Mitch Albom




He is there, inside the coffin. In truth, he is mine already. But a good musician holds respectfully until the final notes are played. This man’s melody is finished, but his mourners have come a great distance to add a few stanzas. A coda, of sorts.

Let us listen.

Heaven can wait.

Do I frighten you? I shouldn’t. I am not death. A grim reaper in a hood, reeking of decay? As your young ­people say—­please.

Nor am I the Great Judge whom you all fear at the end. Who am I to judge a life? I have been with the bad and the good. I hold no verdict on the wrongs this man committed. Nor do I measure his virtues.

I do know a great deal about him: the spells he wove with his guitar, the crowds he enthralled with that deep, breathy voice.

The lives he changed with his six blue strings.

I could share all this.

Or I could rest.

I always make time to rest.

Do you think me coy? I am at times. I am also sweet and calming and dissonant and angry and difficult and simple, as soothing as poured sand, as piercing as a pinprick.

I am Music. And I am here for the soul of Frankie Presto. Not all of it. Just the rather large part he took from me when he came into this world. However well used, I am a loan, not a possession. You give me back upon departure.

I will gather up Frankie’s talent to spread on newborn souls. And I will do the same with yours one day. There is a reason you glance up when you first hear a melody, or tap your foot to the sound of a drum.

All humans are musical.

Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?

Of course, some of you get more of me than others. Bach, Mozart, Jobim, Louis Armstrong, Eric Clapton, Philip Glass, Prince—­to name but a few of your time. In each of their cases, I felt their tiny hands at birth, reaching out, grabbing me. I will share a secret: this is how talents are bestowed. Before newborns open their eyes, we circle them, appearing as brilliant colors, and when they clench their tiny hands for the first time, they are actually grabbing the colors they find most appealing. Those talents are with them for life. The lucky ones (well, in my opinion, the lucky ones) choose me. Music. From that point on, I live inside your every hum and whistle, every pluck of a string or plink of a piano key.

I cannot keep you alive. I lack such power.

But I infuse you.

And yes, I infused the man in the coffin, my mysterious and misunderstood Frankie Presto, whose recent death during a festival concert was witnessed by a sold-­out crowd, his body lifting to the rafters before dropping to the stage, a lifeless shell.

It caused quite a stir. Even today, as they gather in this centuries-­old basilica for his funeral, people are asking, Who killed Frankie Presto? because no one, they say, dies that way on his own.

That is true.

Did you know his first name was actually Francisco? His managers tried to hide that. Frankie, they believed, was more palatable to American fans. The way young girls would scream it at his concerts—­Frankie! I love you, Frankie!—­I suppose they were right. Shorter names are more suited to hysteria. But you cannot change your past, no matter how you craft your future.

Francisco was his real name.

Francisco de Asís Pascual Presto.

I rather like it.

I was there the night it was bestowed.

That’s right. I know the unknown details of Frankie Presto’s birth, the ones historians and music critics—­even Frankie himself—­always labeled a mystery.

I can share them if you like.

Does that surprise you? My willingness to begin with such a coveted story? Well. Why delay? I am not one of the slower talents, like Reason or Mathematics. I am Music. If I bless you singing, you can do so from your first attempt. Composing? My best phrases often lie in the opening notes. Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik? Dum, da-­dum, da-­dum da-­dum da-­dum? He burst out laughing when he played that on his fortepiano. It took less than a minute.

You want to know how Frankie Presto came into this world?

I will tell you.

Simple as that.

It happened here, in Villareal, Spain, a city near the sea that was founded by a king more than seven centuries ago. I prefer to begin everything with a time signature, so let us set this as August 1936, in an erratic 6/5 tempo, for it was a bloody period in the country’s history. A civil war. Something whispered as El Terror Rojo—­the Red Terror—­was coming to these streets and, more specifically, to this church. Most of the priests and nuns had already fled to the countryside.

I recall that evening well. (Yes, I have memory. No limbs, but endless memory.) There was thunder in the skies and rain pounding on the pavement. A young expectant mother hurried in to pray for the child she carried. Her name was Carmencita. She was thinly framed with high cheekbones and thick, wavy hair the color of dark grapes. She lit two candles, made the sign of the cross, put her hands on her swollen belly, then doubled over in pain. Her labor had begun.

She cried out. A young nun, with hazel eyes and a small gap between her teeth, rushed to lift her up. "Tranquila," she said, cupping Carmencita’s face. But before the women could make for the hospital, the front doors were smashed in.

The raiders had arrived.

They were revolutionaries and militiamen, angry at the new government. They had come to destroy the church, as they had been doing all over Spain. Statues and altars were desecrated, sanctuaries burned to a char, priests and nuns murdered in their own sacred spaces.

You would think when such horror occurs, new life would hold in frozen shock. It does not. Neither joy nor terror will delay a birth. The future Frankie Presto had no knowledge of the war outside his mother’s womb. He was ready for his entrance.

And so was I.

The young nun hurried Carmencita to a hidden chamber, up secret steps built centuries earlier. As the raiders destroyed the church below, she laid Frankie’s mother on a gray blanket in a corner lit by candles. Both women were breathing quickly, creating a rhythm, in and out.

"Tranquila, tranquila," the nun kept whispering.

The rain rapped the roof like mallets. The thunder was a tympani drum. Downstairs the raiders set fire to the refectory and the flames crackled like a hundred castanets. Those few who had not fled the church were screaming, high, pleading shrieks, met by lower barking orders of those committing the atrocities. The low and high voices, the crackling fire, whipping wind, drumming rain and crashing thunder created an angry symphony, swirling to a crescendo, and just as the invaders threw open the tomb of Saint Pascual, ready to desecrate his bones, the bells above the basilica began to chime, causing all to look up.

At that precise moment, Frankie Presto was born.

His tiny hands clenched.

And he took his piece of me.

Ah-­ah-­ah. Am I committing to this tale? I must consider the composition. It is one thing to tell the story of a birth, quite another to tell the whole life.

Let us leave the coffin and go outside for a moment, where the morning sun is causing ­people to squint as they emerge from their cars, parked along the narrow streets. Only a few have arrived so far. There should be many more. By my measure (which is always accurate) Frankie Presto, during his time on earth, played with three hundred and seventy-­four bands.

You would think that means a large funeral.

But everyone joins a band in this life. Only some of them play music. Frankie, my precious disciple, was more than a guitarist, more than a singer, more than a famous artist who disappeared for a good chunk of his life. As a child, he suffered greatly, and for his suffering, he was granted a gift. A set of strings that empowered him to change lives.

Six strings.

Six lives.

It is why, I suspect, this farewell could prove interesting. And why I will stay to hear the mourners speak—­Frankie’s remarkable symphony, as played by those who knew him. There is also the matter of his strange death, and the shadowy figure who was following him just before it.

I want to see this resolved.

Music craves resolution.

But for the moment, I should rest. So many notes already shared. Do you see those men on the church steps, smoking cigarettes? The one in the tweed bowler cap? He is also a musician. A trumpeter. He had nimble fingers once, but he is old now and battles illness.

Listen to him for a moment.

Everyone joins a band in this life.

Frankie was once in his.

Marcus Belgrave

Jazz trumpeter, Marcus Belgrave and His Quintet; the Ray Charles band; sideman with McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and others

LEMME HAVE A LIGHT. . . . MMM . . . MMM . . . THANKS. . . .

No, uh-­uh, I can’t believe it neither. Nobody dies like that. But I’m telling you, Frankie had some strange stuff going on, magic, voodoo, something . . . I never told no one this story, but I swear it’s true.

We were playing a club up in Detroit, maybe 1951 or ’52, in the part they called Black Bottom. Used to be a nice buncha clubs there, but after the war, it got pretty dicey.

Anyhow, we’re playing a Friday night, four sets—­eight, ten, midnight, and two a.m.—­and Frankie’s with us, just this skinny teenager playing the guitar. This was way before he made them hit records or even started singing. Shoot, I didn’t even know his last name. Just Frankie. He wasn’t supposed to be there on account of how young he was, but he never asked for no money, and to the guy who owned the club, that made him twenty-­one, know what I mean? We let him sit in the back, out of the spotlight, his big mop of black hair bouncing in the shadows. At the end of the night, he got a free plate of chicken, and we got us a free guitar player.

I know, I know, I’m getting to it. Like I said, the place was low-­end now, some bad elements, and at one point we were playing Smokehouse Blues, and a big bearded fella is sitting in the corner with this pretty young blond thing who’s wearing too much lipstick, maybe trying to look older.

Well, something musta happened, because the Beard jumps up and pushes the girl against the wall, his chair goes flying backward, and he’s got a knife to her throat. He’s choking her, screaming, calling her every kind of name. Tilly, our piano player, walks straight out the door, because that was how he was—­Don’t-­Want-­No-­Trouble Tilly, we used to call him—­but the rest of us were riffing on the chords with that frozen kind of look when you don’t wanna watch, but you can’t turn away? It was almost like if we stopped playing, the Beard was gonna kill this girl. He’s screaming, waving that knife, she’s choking, and nobody was doing nothing, because this guy was big.

Well, next thing I know, Frankie jumps up front and starts playing real loud, and fast. He’s playing so good, ­people kinda don’t know where to look. And Frankie yells, Hey! and the Beard looks over and hollers something drunk. But Frankie just plays faster. Me, Tony, and Elroy, we’re trying to keep up but he’s off into something, fingers moving like they’re possessed.

Hey! Frankie yells again, and he’s playing like lightning, still getting every note clear and true. And damn if the guy doesn’t turn and point the knife at him now like he’s taking the challenge.

Faster, the Beard grumbles.

So Frankie goes faster. Some ­people start whooping, like it’s a game. And now Frankie’s off Smokehouse and he’s on to Flight of the Bumblebee, you know, from that Russian opera? I’m trying to find the notes on my horn, and Elroy is banging the pedal so hard his damn foot is gonna snap off.

And again, the guy yells, Faster!

And we’re thinking there’s no way on the Lord’s earth anyone can play faster than—­but before we even finish that thought, Frankie’s upped it again, his fingers running from the bottom strings to the top strings so fast I swear a buncha bumblebees is gonna come flying out of that guitar. He’s not even looking at his hands. He’s just staring at the guy, with his lips kinda open, hair falling onto his forehead, and everyone is clapping now, trying to keep pace with Elroy’s beat, and Frankie starts this run from the far end of the neck up to the highest frets and the Beard is damn near hypnotized and he comes closer for a better look. Frankie’s staring at the lipstick girl and she’s staring at him, and then he jerks his head and she’s outta there, quick as a bullet.

And now the whole place is whooping in that way crowds do—­you know, Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!—­and the kid squeezes his lips and he’s up in the highest notes, sounds like he’s pinching baby birds it’s so damn high, and the Beard is by the edge of the stage and Frankie points the neck right at him like some kinda machine gun—­bangadedybangedybang—­and then he’s done. Finished. And he whips the guitar over his head and the whole place is going crazy, just breathing hard, like, man, that boy can play and we’re glad nobody’s dead.

And then Frankie races out the door, chasing that girl.

But here’s the thing.

I look at his guitar, and one of the strings has turned blue. I swear. Blue as the middle of a flame.

I thought to myself, I don’t know where this kid come from. Maybe I don’t want to know.



There’s a hint.

The young blond girl with too much lipstick would have died had Frankie not done what he did. But he was too young to understand such things, or to even know he possessed such power. . . .

My apologies.

Up here.

On the windowsill.

I have been listening to a kitchen radio playing Blondie’s Heart of Glass into the alley behind the church. Did you ever notice how music sounds different played outdoors? A cello in a garden wedding? A calliope in a seaside amusement park?

That’s because I was born in the open air, in the breaks of ocean waves and the whistling of sandstorms, the hoots of owls and the cackles of tui birds. I travel in echoes. I ride the breeze. I was forged in nature, rugged and raw. Only man shapes my edges to make me beautiful.

Which you have done. Granted. But along the way, you have made assumptions, like the more silent the environment, the purer I am. Nonsense. One of my disciples, a lanky saxophonist named Sonny Rollins, played his horn for three years on a bridge in New York City, his tender jazz melodies wafting between the traffic noises. I would pause there often, on the girders, just to listen.

Or my beloved Frankie, born amid the cacophony of ringing bells and clamorous destruction. Remember that night, inside the burning church? Carmencita, Frankie’s mother, had to keep her newborn child from crying, lest they be discovered by a murderous militia. So, lying together on the gray blanket, she hummed a song in his ear. It was a melody from the past, well known in the town of Villareal, written by one of its native sons, my brilliant guitarist Francisco Tárrega. Carmencita hummed it as purely as any song has ever been hummed, tears falling from her cheeks to the newborn’s skin.

He did not cry.

A good thing, since, within minutes, the raiders had reached the main altar and could be heard destroying everything below. They were drawing closer and would soon ascend the steps. The nun with the hazel eyes and the gap between her teeth was trembling. She knew the new mother could not be moved; she was too weak, there was blood everywhere.

She also knew the raiders would kill any nun they discovered.

She mouthed a prayer, pulled her tunic off over her head, and pressed her fingers against the flames of the candles, extinguishing the light.

"Silencio," she whispered.

Carmencita halted the only melody she would ever sing to her son.

The song was called Lágrima.

It means teardrop.

Of course, all this seems incongruous if you only knew Frankie Presto from his most popular years, the late 1950s and early 1960s, when they called him the next Elvis Presley and he made records that led to television appearances and raucous concerts and an iconic photo of him smiling in a tan sports coat and a pink-­collared shirt, leaning out a car window to sign the hand of a pretty brunette.

That photo, used by LIFE magazine, became the cover of his most commercial album, Frankie Presto Wants To Love You. It sold millions of copies and earned him more money than he ever imagined during his childhood days on the poor streets of Villareal, where men transported oranges in horse-­drawn carts.

But by that stage of his life, Frankie was an American artist with an American manager and there was no trace of a Spanish accent in his singing. Even his guitar playing had been pushed to the background. The songs they made him play, quite frankly, were beneath his talent.

But I haven’t even told you of his first instrument, or the hairless dog, or the girl in the tree, or El Maestro, or the war, or Django or Elvis or Hank Williams, or why Frankie disappeared at the height of his popularity.

Or how he died, rising over a stunned audience.

Frankie’s journey. Such a rich tale to share. You show interest. That is tempting. I am always tempted by an audience.

The cars arrive. The sun climbs above the city. The priest is still dressing in his chambers.

There is time, I suppose.

Let us jump right in then, as befits a man named Presto. Today it may be a word you exclaim after a magic trick. But it was once used by composers to signal my quickest tempos, bright, jumpy, and energized. Presto.

It also means ready.

Are you ready?

Here is the rest of my child’s story.



You are born into your first one. Your mother plays the lead. She shares the stage with your father and siblings. Or perhaps your father is absent, an empty stool under a spotlight. But he is still a founding member, and if he surfaces one day, you will have to make room for him.

As life goes on, you will join other bands, some through friendship, some through romance, some through neighborhoods, school, an army. Maybe you will all dress the same, or laugh at your own private vocabulary. Maybe you will flop on couches backstage, or share a boardroom table, or crowd around a galley inside a ship. But in each band you join, you will play a distinct part, and it will affect you as much as you affect it.

And, as is usually the fate with bands, most of them will break up—­through distance, differences, divorce, or death.

Frankie’s first band was a duo—­mother and child. By the Lord’s good grace, they had not been discovered by the raiders that night, and had managed to escape the burning church. But traumatized by the horrific events, the woman moved to the farthest end of town and never spoke of what she endured. There was great distrust in Spain during those years; you kept your secrets to yourself. When towns­people walked past, the mother lowered her head, avoiding eye contact.

"Qué niño más guapo!" they would exclaim. Such a beautiful boy!

"Gracias," she would mumble, quickly moving on.

The child developed a full head of dark hair. As the months went by, the woman noticed he would turn whenever church bells chimed. Once they passed a street musician playing the flute, and young Francisco held his hands out as if to grab more of me (although he had quite enough already, thank you).

He was a normal infant in most ways, except that, for the longest time, he did not cry. He barely made any sound at all. They lived in a one-­room flat above a panadería, and when they went hungry, which was often, the mother would go downstairs and wait for the elderly baker to ask about her quiet baby. She would lower her eyes, and he would sigh sympathetically. Don’t worry, señora, I am sure he will speak one day, he’d say, and he would give her a plate of rolls soaked in olive oil. Occasionally she earned money from sewing or washing clothes. But the country was struggling with its crippling war, money was scarce, and alone with a baby, she could hardly work. Month after month, she barely kept them going.

Go to the church, let them help you, the neighbors said. But she never did. She wanted no part of a church anymore.

When Frankie’s first birthday arrived, to break the monotony, she carried him to the one paved street in town, Calle Mayor, and into Casa Medina, its largest store, to look at things they would never own. She lingered by the new strollers, wishing she could afford one. The store also featured a wind-­up gramophone, and on her way out, she stopped to admire it. The owner, a well-­tailored man with a thin mustache, stepped forward, noticing perhaps that she did not wear a wedding ring. He smiled as he put on a new shellac disc.

Listen please, señora, he said proudly. The artist on that disc was a Spanish guitar player named Andrés Segovia. What he played that morning held the baby Frankie mesmerized. His head tilted. His little hands clenched.

And when the song finished, he finally cried.


The baby’s voice was as powerful as a grown man’s. The owner grimaced. Customers made faces. The embarrassed mother shook him harshly, hissing "Silencio!" But his piercing noise continued, so loud it could be heard from one end of the store to the other. Another salesman grabbed a piece of candy from a counter dish and pushed it at Frankie’s lips to make him stop, but the child waved his hands wildly and cried even louder.

Finally, the flustered owner put the gramophone’s arm back on the disc.

Segovia played again.

And Frankie fell silent.

You don’t need me to tell you the song.


From that day forward, the child was never content. He would cry all the time. No hour was immune. No bed or blanket soothed him. He wailed louder than the roosters or the alley dogs. It seemed he was screaming for something he could never have.

Enough! the neighbors would yell out the windows. Give him milk! Make him stop!

But nothing seemed to work. Night after night he howled, even as fists banged on the walls and broomsticks pounded on the ceiling. Do something! We need to sleep! No one could recall a baby that loud. Even the baker downstairs ceased giving the mother bread, in hopes that they would find someplace else to live.

Without aid, and with food so scarce, the poor woman was at her wit’s end. She didn’t sleep. She grew depressed. She ached from hunger and her health deteriorated. As winter approached, she caught a fever and suffered fits of delirium. She would walk the streets with a red towel around her neck, leaving Francisco to cry alone in the flat. Sometimes she mumbled words she thought were being spoken to her.

One cold morning, with nothing to feed the child and no way to stop his shrieking, she carried him to the outskirts of the town, where the Mijares River runs to the sea. She descended a hill to the riverbank. A strong wind blew, swirling leaves from the muddy ground. She looked at the child, wrapped in a gray blanket. For a moment he fell silent, and her face softened. But then the distant church bells rang and his howling resumed. She threw her head back and exhaled a shriek of her own.

She flung the baby into the water.

And she ran.

A mother should never do such a thing. But this woman did, tears falling from her hazel eyes and past her gap-­toothed mouth. She ran until her lungs nearly burst, and she did not look back, not on the child, not on the river.

A mother should never do such a thing. But this woman was not Frankie’s mother. That woman died in the chamber of the church, draped in the tunic of a nun.

Clem Dundridge

Backup singer, the King-­Tones, the Jordanaires, the Frankie Presto Band

HOW YA DOIN’? . . . YOU WITH A TV STATION OR SOMETHING? . . .What time they gonna start this here funeral, any idea?

Me? Nah . . . I never been to Spain—­but I kinda like the music. Ha! You know that song? . . . Who was that? Dang . . . Three somethin’ . . . Three Dog Night! That’s it . . . What kinda stupid name is that?

Shoot, I know. Where I live, funerals never start on time, neither . . . Greenville, now. South Carolina. America . . .

Naw, I hadn’t seen Frankie in about twenty years. Just lost touch, you know? Most ­people lost touch with him, right? That’s how he was. I didn’t even know he was still playin’ until I heard how he died. . . .

Met him? Ha! You ready for this? I met him with Elvis Presley on the Louisiana Hayride circuit, 1957. . . . Yes, ma’am. . . . Yes, ma’am. . . . Well, hell yeah, it’s a true story. I don’t mind sayin’ it now. I was supposed to keep quiet till the day Elvis died and the day Frankie died. But they’re both gone now, and I’m eighty-­two years old. What am I waiting for? I’m figuring to maybe tell it in the church. Are we allowed to speak during the ser­vice? It’s Catholic, isn’t it? Maybe they don’t let you . . .

Right now? . . . Tell you what. You lemme have some of that coffee you’re sippin’, I will . . . Thank you . . . much obliged. . . . Mmmph . . .

Okay. So this is what happened. I was singin’ those days with the Jordanaires, which was Elvis’s backup group. Lot of guys came in and out of the Jordanaires over the years, mostly gospel singers, some of them was ministers who eventually went back to the church. I was with them just a brief stretch, but during that time, Elvis was catchin’ fire. Every show was bigger than the last.

Now Frankie looked a lot like Elvis, there’s no denying that. They both had them toothy

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  • (5/5)
    WOW!! I wish I could give this book 10 stars, 20 for that matter - something that would help convey just how incredible, wonderful, and amazing this story truly is. It has it all and the words are written with such fluidity, they seem to melt off the page straight into your heart. This is definitely a book any book lover should read for themselves.To say Frankie had a rough start in life would be putting it mildly - every time he had even the smallest sense of stability, he was uprooted and forced to start a new. But even so, by the tender age of 4 his talent was obvious, at age nine he was sent to America with only a few meager possessions and his trusty guitar. It would be with this guitar and his amazing talent he would touch the lives of so many people. The "magic" strings that turn blue when he's touched a life - he has no control over. Sometimes he feels it is more a curse than a blessing and it doesn't keep him from dealing with his own demons. We are given a front row seat to Frankie's personal journey - you can almost feel his longing as he aches to be with his one true love, Aurora. He had fame and fortune, but that's not what he wanted, not what would give him peace within his heart and soul. The strength of their love would be tested again and again and it's not until he chooses to walk away into obscurity does he realize "Music" will lead him to the peace he seeks. The story moves through the 20th century - from the Vietnam War to Hurricane Katrina..along the way he meets musicians that will go on to become megastars in their own right - Hank Williams, Paul Stanley and Elvis to name a few. His music is incredible, but the effect he has on people is miraculous. (the reader too)Marketed as fiction, it certainly reads more like literature - masterfully written. There are no slow places, lags in narration, or boring dialogue.It's hard to explain how it all comes together to form one of the most fantastic stories I've read in years. I'll go so far as to say this is my new favorite book...hands down. It touches something inside you, almost like Frankie's music touched so many. It's engaging, interesting and unlike anything, you will find on bookshelves today. Mitch Albom has a way with words...the ability to connect the reader to his characters in deep, meaningful ways that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. If you are a reader - Read This Book. This is one of those rare stories that will be read, re-read, and talked about for years. Grab a blanket, some tissue, and your favorite drink - cuddle up with Frankie Presto... it will be the most enjoyable reading session you've experienced in years.Happy Reading,RJ
  • (4/5)
    Cleverly written. Narrated by "Music", who gifted an infant Frankie Fresto with more than his fair share of musical talent when he grabbed for it at his birth. The book follows Frankie through his life as Music and a series of guests at his funeral relate his experiences, which include brushes with a number of musical figures such as Elvis Presley. It was clever the way Albom tied all of this together to create a sort of "Forrest Gump" like tale of an often troubled man's journey through life and across several continents. I most enjoyed the story of the relationship he had with his wife and daughter, though he did not always treat them well. Our book group found it fairly discussable.
  • (5/5)
    I love this book! The book is written from the perspective of Music, which I think adds an interesting take on the story.
  • (4/5)
    Every time I think of this book, I give it a higher rating. The theme of this book was so unusual that I couldn't imagine why i should read it other than that Mitch's other books were always fine. I was pleasantly surprised to read 1/2 of it in my first sitting. It's very very good and I've already recommended it to others..
  • (4/5)
    Wonderful. Told from a very different perspective.
  • (5/5)
    One of the best books of 2015.
  • (4/5)
    Liked this a lot better than I expected. The author uses Music as a narrator to relate the life of Frankie Presto. He intertwines Frankie's story with the history of contemporary music and musicians.
  • (5/5)
    This is very wonderful book... It is full of amazing love stories.
    The words are beautifully arranged, they just got into your heart and stir it..... until your eyes cried unstoppably.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing book. Walking on a rainbow -- wow - Words can do that too, just like Music !
  • (5/5)
    While I'm not famous, and definitely not world class in music, music was always an integral part of my life and my family. I grew up with it, and this novel evokes a sense of belonging on a personal level. I had a relatively good life, but I felt touched by this book, and even though Frankie Presto is as alive as the character that pops off the book, I too felt like I took a long trip around the world, while being serenaded by the magic strings of Frankie Presto. A definite read to musicians or even, music appreciators, especially those ole classical and jazz numbers.
  • (5/5)
    The twist in the end, like most story twists, felt unnecessary to me. Aside from that, can't find amything wrong about this book. Absolute must read.
  • (3/5)
    Very nice plot for the story. Feeling awesome after read this beautiful material.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful & a touching journey of life. A must read LOVED it
  • (5/5)
    Such a GREAT book! Narrated by Music and such a great story that keeps you guessing all the way to the end!
  • (5/5)

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    "Truth is Light. Lies are shadows. Music is both." Is this statement from a non-fiction book by Mitch Albom? No, it is from his novel. What a beautiful novel narrated by music. Music tells the story of Fransisco, better known as Frankie who was blessed with the gift of music and which he earned by practising devoutly at the feet of his maestro; his maestro who tells him, "The secret is not to make your music louder, but to make the world quieter."One could quote the entire book but I'll leave you with one thought; a thought that will make you want to read the book in which Frankie, like Forrest Gump stumbles to real life musicians and plays with them - "Man searches his courage in drink, but it is not courage he finds, it is fear that he loses."Nobody who reads this love story will remain the same after it.

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  • (5/5)
    In a book narrated by music, Frankie Presto’s amazing life is examined. An orphan, baby Frankie was found in a river by an unmarried man he came to believe was his father. Frankie was blessed with musical ability and this ability led him and his guitar from Franco’s Spain to the US where he worked with musicians like Duke Ellington, Elvis and other pop stars. Like all Mitch Albom books you feel better about the world after you’ve read the book.
  • (5/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    Before I begin, I have to say, just ignore the asinine reviewer who sees opposing political ideas in everything. This is neither conservative nor liberal in the political sense. Now, for my opinions...In the magic strings of Frankie Presto, Mitch Albom presents a sweeping yet focused story of one life and how it affected so many others. Equally important is the number of lives that affected his life, though that realization comes late in the book.I am hesitant to discuss too many details both because I don't want to accidentally give any spoilers and because discovering those details in the course of reading is what makes this such a delicious book. It is a unique story in that the narrator is Music, as in one of the arts and not actually a person. This allows some wonderful insights when Music observes human action and separates what music is and what humans sometimes believe music to be.While this is a wonderful story about a musician's life and the role Music played, and deserves 5 stars on that basis alone, it is when the reader re-thinks the story and sees Music as a metaphor for life that the story really becomes a story not just about Frankie's life but about the reader's life as well. We may not all reach the highs or the lows of Frankie Presto but each of us must traverse our own highs and lows, and this novel allows us to understand many of those moments from a different perspective. While a symphony is used within the story as just such a metaphor I think Music with its many threads weaving life and lives together that makes a better metaphor.I highly recommend this book for just about anyone who enjoys a story that has a touch of the supernatural while also maintaining a strong connection to reality. While I am not sure I would truly call it magical realism, I do believe an argument could be made for it.Like I tell friends when I really like something but know they don't want to hear my long drawn out comments: "it made me laugh, it made me cry."Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads.

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  • (5/5)
    I'm treading carefully with my review here, because I don't want to give even the hint of a spoiler. And this is such a unique book, that there are spoilers at every turn. So I'll start with this: I absolutely loved this book!Clearly, it's not a spoiler to say that there is a strong connection between the characters, the plot, and music. The overall story has a kind of mystical feel, which perfectly fits the content. After all, music itself is mystical in its ability to transform or enhance our moods. Music brings us together as a group, while at the same time remaining a uniquely personal experience. This is also how the book feels; a shared experience that will touch each of us in a personal way. Mitch Albom is a natural storyteller. His writing style is something you experience, rather than read. His words drew me in, took me to unexpected places, brought me to tears, and made me giggle. I rarely read books over again (there are simply too many on my wishlist!), but this is one I will return to in the future.
  • (5/5)
    Narrated by The Spirit of Music, this is the tale of the world's greatest guitarist--who disappears at the height of his career. The tale is told in a series of recollections of major performers and others in the music industry, some fictional, some real. Mitch Alborn received a lot of permissions(and must have called in a few favors) to accomplish this. The result is indeed magic.
  • (4/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    I’ve enjoyed other Mitch Albom books in the past, but this one wasn’t on my short list until two coworkers recommended it. One coworker highly recommended the audiobook version and I’m so glad that I followed her advice. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever heard. It’s read by a full cast of talented actors including Mitch Albom himself.

    Here's a basic summary of the book:

    This is the epic story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings.

    It’s easy to get lost into this story and forget everything that’s happening around you. This story offers more than a fictitious character’s musical career. It’s the ups and downs in his life and his relationships that add depth to the story. Frankie Presto’s fame was believable — I wanted him to be a real person.

    I love it when authors use a unique narrator and find different ways to format their story. In this case, music was the narrator and it began with Frankie’s death. This one start at the end, then jump to the beginning circling back around to the end.

    I’ve always loved music and I played an instrument for eight years, so I can read music and understand the terminology. I enjoyed his musical journey and how his life intertwined with famous musicians. I didn't know all of the music references, but it was fun when he mentioned artists that I know such as Little Richard, Lyle Lovett, Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Paul Stanley. Frankie’s music career made me wish I still played an instrument and had his talent.

    If you’re thinking about reading this book, I highly recommend the audiobook version. Get ready for a magical journey.

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  • (5/5)
    I won this from Goodreads first reads, and was thrilled.I enjoy music as much as the next guy, well rock music and oldies at least. I do prefer to use my ear pods for listening to books over listening to music, though. I can't read music and don't play any instruments. Could not tell you the difference between allegro and adagio. In other words, I'm not exactly what you'd call musical. Thus when it hit me that Music is the narrator of this book, I was a little worried. Then I immediately thought of Death as the narrator in The Book Thief, which I loved, so I thought "Keep an open mind. This could be very special."Or a little magical, as it turned out. Just a smidge; just enough.While Music tells us about Frankie becoming orphaned as a baby during the Spanish Civil War and his musical training as a boy, other chapters are told by famous people who knew Frankie, Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett to name two, those who learned of Frankie's death and are eulogizing him. We learn how he was as talented or moreso than Elvis during the time of Elvis, we learn of his diverse singing and amazing abilities with those guitar strings, a unique talent who had it all--voice, talent, and looks--up to getting high at Woodstock. I loved the continuous name dropping of musicians met along the way of Frankie's search for his childhood sweetheart, to all the music meccas of the U.S.: Detroit, Nashville, New Orleans, and of course Woodstock. All while the lyrics of well-known love songs sing out Frankie's feelings for his beloved Aurora. It started feeling very much like Forrest Gump after a while--the time period, Frankie's loneliness and perseverence, just a tad magical, very musical--and I can picture this being turned into that same type of movie. I felt this even before I noticed my book jacket mentions Gump as well. Well, in the end this was very, very special. Music is just one of many talents we are infused with, some people more than others. We all know that Music, though, can absorb your memories, with a single tune taking you back years to where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard it. Music can and has changed the world. It is alive in us from birth, and when we die Music takes it back, to pass on to his next disciple. Really a beautiful thing from this very talented author, who inevitably tugs at the strings of my heart. 4.5 stars.
  • (2/5)
    I say skip the book and go straight for the music. I just couldn't buy in to the idea of Music as storyteller or narrator, reliable or unreliable. Some of the chapters, especially of Frankie's early life in Spain were interesting but the musical terms used for comparisons and life-saving strings became almost hokey for me and easily anticipated. The musical history of various legends is easily appreciated by music lovers as well. Maybe I just have too many bad memories of childhood piano lessons to appreciate the Testare De Corde (testing the strings) Albom is shooting for with this Novel. Follow the playlist and you have some great music to listen to.Provided by publisher
  • (2/5)
    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, Mitch AlbomI won this book from Goodreads and was looking forward to reading it. I try to like most of the books I read and truly made an effort with this one. Since I also obtained an audio version which seemed exceptionally interesting because of the awesome array of well-known narrators, some who were performers, I decided to listen to it first. After finally getting through the audio, I could not bear to plow through the written version. I have enjoyed several of Mitch Albom’s books in the past, but this one was not one of them. I kept wondering where the tale was leading. Where and what was the inspirational message? The book begins with the birth of Frankie Presto and marches on until his legendary death. The story is about what seems to have been a child prodigy, from all accounts of his musical ability. He grew into a phenomenal musician whose amazing talent and special gift was that he inspired others to play and improve their own skills. His unusual and valuable guitar had magic strings that turn blue. As the book progresses, the mystery of the blue strings is solved. When the book begins the narrator is identified as Music. Music has come to claim what is due, to take the gift of music from the deceased who no longer needs it so it can be passed on to another who does, another who lives. The gift is passed on to Francesco Presto when he is born. Music continues to narrate the story, joined by the voices of the non-fiction characters that have come to eulogize Frankie Presto upon hearing of his death. They speak of him as if he has truly had an influence on their lives and their world of music.Francisco Presto was born in Spain, in 1936, during the Civil War. At his birth, his mother, Carmencita, sings him a song about tears, and his tears soon begin to drive the novice nun who rescued him for his mother, and her neighbors, to distraction. Although she feels forced to abandon him, in order to survive, she watches over him from afar, for the rest of his life. This child will survive and grow up with an amazing ability to sing, dance and play his guitar. So, to summarize, he was born in a church that was being attacked during a war, then he was rescued by a nun and subsequently thrown into the water by the same nun, Josepha, abandoned and left to die, but then he was saved by a hairless dog and raised by a stranger, Baffa Rubio, who worked in a sardine factory. He was then taught by a blind musician, El Maestro, who drugs him and sends him off to America at the behest of his quasi father, Baffa, now in prison. El Maestro, the blind musician is then robbed and murdered by Alberto, after putting Frankie, drugged, on board a ship. For his whole life, Frankie had one true friend and lover named Aurora. As children, they met in a tree, and she reappears from time to time at significant times of his life. The live together and Aurora becomes pregnant. While Frankie is off on an ill-begotten binge, Aurora is mugged and loses their baby. She disappears, once again. Frankie has an unhappy marriage, his career declines. Aurora reappears at a low point in his life and they marry and eventually raise an abandoned child named Kai. She also becomes an accomplished guitarist. The author covered the entire entertainment industry by including the names of many well known composers, movie producers and performers throughout the book. Mentioned were Bach, Andreas Segovia, the Beattles, Wynton Marsalis, Arrowsmith, Janis Joplin, Fats Domino, Duke Ellington, Burt Bacharach, the Everly Brothers, the Drifters, Beethoven, Francisco Tarraga, The Who, Chet Atkins, The Rolling Stones, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley and so many more that I could go on and on, but perhaps that is where the fault in the book lies. It simply tried too hard to cover too many basses. Drug addiction, Hurricane Katrina, Woodstock and then the Viet Nam War was even entered into the narrative as Frankie became an entertainer of the troops! I found the love story of Frankie and Aurora lacking in credibility. Yes, Aurora, the love of his life was a saint who seemed to always magically appear when needed, and yes, the nun, Josepha was his guardian angel, but then what? What was the ultimate message of this book? Do we live until we do all the things our heart tells us to do? Is it the good we do that determines how much time we have on earth? With the last magic string was his life no longer deemed useful? Was music Frankie’s mistress or master? Was he Moses rescued from the water and assigned the thankless task of saving others? The reason why the strings turned blue left me completely unmoved.I wondered, also, if it was the author’s intention to include and promote every liberal piece of philosophy he could think of, in his book. One got the sense that Frankie preached against war, smoking, drugs, alcohol, guns, violence and a host of other things, while he abused most of these things in his own life, at one time or another. I also wondered if the reference to music, as in “I Am Music,” by the character in the book that represented “music”, was meant to bring Barry Manilow to mind. He was the man who composed the song with the lyrics, “I am Music and I write the songs”.I found the repetitive sayings annoying rather than thought provoking. Frankie in a love sick way kept repeating “Aurora, that means dawning”, (until it doesn’t), and also “will you stay”, to which she replies yes and no alternatively, until she finally does and so does he; she asks him the same question a number of times. Music keeps saying “I am music” and “everyone in life joins a band, ad nauseum, to refer to the different groups that form and reform engaging Frankie throughout his life. The audiobook is read well by the author, Mitch Albom, and famous guitarists and singers: Paul Stanley of Kiss, John Pizzarelli who also played guitar for Paul McCartney, George Guidall an actor and narrator of audio books, Mike Hodge of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Robin Miles, an actress, director, and audiobook narrator, Christian Baskous, an actor and audiobook narrator, Tony Chiroldes, a bilingual actor and voice-over performer, Kevin O’neill, a writer, director, and music video producer, and Adriana Sananes, a linguist who once studied dancing is a narrator and an actress. Albom himself is a songwriter, musician, journalist and author. He wears many hats and is very talented. In this book, he allowed the participants in the narrative to imagine their own memories of Frankie Presto as if he was a real performer who had a real life-changing effect on them and their worlds. For me, the story was simply too hokey and too contrived, not like his other books which transcended the fantasy world of this book and which were more of his own ideas. This story soon became overly sentimental and simplistic, like a child’s fairy tale.
  • (5/5)
    “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” is the story of a young boy taken in and raised by a blind music teacher after he is orphaned in the Spanish American War. When he is nine, Frankie, with his battered guitar and six magical strings, is smuggled out of Spain on a tramp freighter. In London, he meets legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt who is on his way to America to play with Duke Ellington. Frankie travels with Django and soon the boy’s talent earns him international acclaim.Seduced by the glitterati, he becomes a pop star, ignoring the guitar and the talent that first brought him fame. Through the years, he meets some of the greatest musical talents of the twentieth century including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Wynton Marsalis, Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Tony Bennett. Each reminisces as another bit of Frankie’s life story is shared. At the height of his popularity, Frankie vanishes and a legend grows around him. He has realized that his musical gift is also his burden for his music holds the power to change lives and, as the Spirit of Music narrates the tale, the lives set right are revealed as one by one the magical strings turns blue.An eloquent and touching tale, this intricately-woven tapestry of fact, fantasy, and fiction, will keep readers mesmerized. This is one book readers will find hard to put down and even harder to forget.Highly recommended.