Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas Books and Country Music

CMT, just in time for the holidays, of course, has highlighted some great new books that will interest country music fans (for the uninitiated, CMT stands for Country Music Television). The highlight of the article, for me, is the focus on Marty Stuart's new release of Country Music: The Masters, a more affordable version of his great collection of photos of the legends of country music in various stages of their careers than has been available up to now. Stuart started taking photos at age 13, by the time of which he was already a professional musician in Lester Flatt's great band. In fact, the story goes that the first photo taken by young Marty (at 13) was of his favorite star, Connie Smith, the woman to whom he has been married for quite a few years now.

Others mentioned by CMT:
Veteran Nashville journalist Robert K. Oermann went to great lengths to shine the spotlight on country legends -- past and present in -- Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain (Hachette Book Group). The profiles include detailed stories about pioneers such as Patsy Cline and Minnie Pearl, living icons including George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton and contemporary stars such as Martina McBride and Trace Adkins.

Randy Owen, Alabama's lead singer, takes fans inside the workings of the supergroup with his Born Country: Born Country -- How Faith, Family and Music Brought Me Home (Harperone). Fans of historic country music radio shows can travel memory lane with Chad Berry's The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance (University of Illinois Press).

Also in the country chute: Waiting for a Train: Jimmie Rodgers's America, edited by Mary E. Davis and Warren Zanes (Rounder Books); Adam Victor's The Elvis Encyclopedia (Overlook Press); and Sybil Rosen's Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley, a study of and tribute to the Texas singer and songwriter who wrote Merle Haggard's "If I Could Only Fly" (University of North Texas Press). Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (Workman) includes a section of country picks.
I find several of the titles interesting but I'll be focusing on the Marty Stuart book and 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. I have a collection of almost 25,000 recorded songs, covering the years 1910-1990 primarily (starting with wax cylinders), so it will be interesting to see how many of the 1000 recordings I have in the collection. Of course, over 20,000 of my recordings are country songs, so I doubt that I've made much of a dent in the book's list.


  1. It's strange and fascinating how Johnny Cash's appearance altered in those last few years, due to age and illness. In many of his last photographs, he looks eerily like many portraits of 19th century presidents.

  2. That photo is striking to me, too, because Marty took it only four days before John died.

  3. This is one of the books I'm buying with my employee appreciation discount this holiday. :)

  4. You can't go wrong, Annie, with any project that combines John Cash and Marty Stuart. :-)