Country Music Changed My Life

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Country Music Changed My Life

Postby lo&m on Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:24 pm

Country Music Changed My Life


Ken Burke

ISBN: 1-55652-538-9

This is another of those books that a reader can dip in to, read a chapter and dip out again. Each chapter is a stand-alone story from a different contributor. Most of the stories are from people within country music, as you would expect, but some are from folks only peripherally connected to the country music industry but who nonetheless have experienced some life-changing moments. Ones that I guess are familiar (emotionally, if not in fact) to all readers of this review because if you're reading this your life has been changed by country music to a greater or lesser degree. I know mine has.

The book is divided neatly into thematic sections: rags to riches, close encounters, spirituality, the Elvis factor, country comedy and the like. Most involve names associated with the 'classic country' rather than 'new country' although not all are household names by any means. In Close Encounters, Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed tells a moving story of one of the bands faithful fans.

The first section is named Rags To Riches. These 'poor boy made good' stories are an essential part of country music and they are represented here by Brenda Lee, Hank Locklin, Big Al Downing and Glen Campbell.

The next section, full title, Close Encounters Of The Country Kind are a mix of chance encounters and more meaningful relationships. From Deke Dickerson's humerous tales of backing legends, Rose Maddox and Hank Thompson in their later years to Pat Boone's praise of his father-in-law, Red Foley.

Other sections include Coming Back and Coming Home, where the likes of Joe Stampley, Freddy Weller etc relate how they returned to country music after a career in pop. Spirituality, where Wanda Jackson and others left a career in pop to return to gospel music.

The Elvis Factor reveals among other things the origin of the phrase, “Elvis has left the building.” It was coined to help quiet a crowd of screaming, Elvis-crazed girls so a young country singer named Gary Bryant could take the stage. It didn't work. “Gary who?” you might ask. As I said earlier not all contributors are household names. Bryant was one of those who spent a career toiling at the coal-face of country without getting the big breaks.

Country Comedy can be a bit 'hit or miss'. It doesn't always translate very well over here. But here three people I'd never heard of and Little Jimmy Dickens discuss their take on it.

Big Stars and an Icon is where you'll find the ...erm … big stars. Bobby Bare, Mickey Gilley, Hank Thompson, Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells. You don't get much bigger than them. They reveal the secrets of their success here. It's not a spoiler to say that it often involved a lot of hard work. In fact the lives of all the people featured in this book can be characterised with the words hard work and lucky breaks. Hey! Sounds like the title of a country song. Wouldn't be surprised if Harlan Howard has already written it.
Country is a state of mind, not a state of America.
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