Monday, August 07, 2006

Good Read (and Listen)

I am in awe of PCs ability to power through Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle - it took me months to read Quicksilver (with many breaks) and after about the first third of The Confusion, I needed another break. That should not be taken as any slight of Mr. Stephenson - it's just that the work is so dense my little pea-brain can only soak up so much at once. (Oddly enough, Cryptonomicon went much faster.)

As a break, I checked out a couple of novels from the library but couldn't make any headway in any of them, finally realizing that I needed some non-fiction to clear my head. On the new book shelf, I found one that really caught my interest: How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row by Michael Kosser. It is written by a long-time Nashville songwriter and rather than focus on the Grand Ole Opry and performing stars, the focus is on writers, publishers and producers. Chet Atkins as record company exec rather than guitar player, Willie Nelson as young songwriter discovered at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and too shy to go into Patsy Cline's house to pitch her Crazy and Roy Acuff not as a performer but as co-founder of Acuff-Rose Music, long the top publishing house in Nashville. It's clear that many of the people that this book is about are still alive (even many of them that started it all in the late 50's and early 60's) so there's not a whole lot that is going to be controversial, but you do get some of Nashville's long-time love-hate relationship with country music and the sort of defensiveness that some on the inside have every time someone outside of "the family" shows a snaggletoothed inbred-looking coot as the typical country music fan.

I can appreciate the locales having grown up in Nashville at the same time Music Row was coming into its own, but you don't have to know who Billy Sherrill is or remember the King of the Road Motel or know anything about Printer's Alley to appreciate the book. Some of the stories are downright hysterical and the voices are just right. Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building writers are long gone, but Music Row is probably the last place where songwriters who are not necessarily performers can still make a living - it's a hell of a good story.


At 5:56 PM, Blogger jw said...

How about this?

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

Okay, I'll admit it, jw. You got me. I don't get it.


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