**spoiler alert** Do you enjoy the classic Johnny Cash album "At Folsom Prison"? Ever wondered how the album came to be? This small but insightful boo**spoiler alert** Do you enjoy the classic Johnny Cash album "At Folsom Prison"? Ever wondered how the album came to be? This small but insightful book will fill you in on all the details of the momentous day, everything that led up to it, and what happened after.
The author, Michael Streissguth, begins by giving a short history of Cash's career prior to the Folsom album and putting his music in the context of the 1960s' folk and rock movements. He also talks about the history of Folsom Prison and what kind of a place it was. A hard place, that's for sure. The kind of place that could use a little entertainment.
Next, Streissguth spends a chapter detailing the planning and (pardon the pun) execution of the recording of the Folsom Prison concert. Or, concerts, because Johnny actually played two shows that day. The first show proved to be lightning in a bottle, and that is the one that ended up on record, with the exception of one song added from the second show.
Streissguth does a wonderful job of setting the scene, showing the reader what the atmosphere was like and what it was like for Johnny, June and Johnny's band members. I would have appreciated a deeper look into the album itself and the songs on it, but that's just me.
The last two chapters analyze the album's impact on music and society, as well as Cash himself. Cash became an advocate for prison reform after recording the album, but his fight was not an easy one.
This book may not seem very substantial, but it's actually a very good analysis and history of a single music album. I'm sure more can be written, but this is a good start. The interesting thing about "At Folsom Prison" is that it was not just an album; it was an event. It was moment in history. How many musicians can participate in something like that? How many albums become greater than the songs contained on them?
For me, the genius of this book is not the narrative, nor is it the facts; for me, all you need to know about that fateful day when Johnny Cash sang in front of thousands of prisoners can be seen in the photos of Cash's weathered, concerned face that are scattered throughout the book. The man hadn't reached 40 yet and he looked as if he had lived a hundred lifetimes. It's that face, and that voice, that connected with Folsom's prisoners and continues to connect with listeners and fans more than 40 years after the album's release....more
This book is supposed to be about Jimi Hendrix, but it doesn't have too many pages of information about its subject.
The author's style here is to giveThis book is supposed to be about Jimi Hendrix, but it doesn't have too many pages of information about its subject.
The author's style here is to give a history of different styles and subjects (blues, jazz, soul, etc.), discuss their impact on the culture of the 1960s, and then discuss how Jimi Hendrix fit in. The result is many pages of information about different styles and eras of music and very few mentions of Jimi.
As a music book, this is decent. There are interesting examinations of masculinity in popular music, the myths surrounding Robert Johnson, and developments in blues and jazz. As a Hendrix book, this is very poor.
I think the best chapters are those on blues and soul music. The author clearly connects Jimi to these musical traditions, as they influenced Hendrix and as Hendrix influenced them.
If you're looking for a book mostly about Jimi Hendrix's music, look elsewhere. If you're curious about music in general, this might interest you....more
**spoiler alert** I'm not a huge fan of Bob Dylan's music (can't stand his voice), but I thought this would be an entertaining read. And it was.
This i**spoiler alert** I'm not a huge fan of Bob Dylan's music (can't stand his voice), but I thought this would be an entertaining read. And it was.
This isn't a standard autobiography. Would you expect that from Dylan? It's sort of a collection of stories, moments and memories. We go from Dylan's folk days in New York to times with his family, to the recording dates of one of Bob's albums, and back again to NYC. Some people are named, and some aren't. I'm curious about "wife." Don't you wonder what kind of woman would marry Bob Dylan?
The writing here is, of course, wonderful. Dylan peppers his chronicles with bits and pieces of really great insights. Some sentences are very poetic. Some day, I'm going to read this again with a highlighter and mark up the really good parts.
While reading this, you get hints and clues and part of the story, but not the whole thing. It would take ten of these books to tell Dylan's whole story. What really struck me was the section detailing the recording of "Oh Mercy." Dylan could have written about recording any of his albums, his most acclaimed, but he chose that one. You get the sense that each album has a similar story that could fill pages and pages.
The title of this book says it is Volume One, and I really hope there are more volumes to come. It was a pleasure diving into the world and mind of Bob Dylan. I like him better through the written word. ...more
I've read this book twice now, and I think it's one of the best books I've ever read. It's certainly one of the best autobiographies I've ever read.
ThI've read this book twice now, and I think it's one of the best books I've ever read. It's certainly one of the best autobiographies I've ever read.
This is not just a history of Johnny Cash's career and life. It's a journey through Johnny's everyday life as he was writing it. He brings you with him to his house in Jamaica, his farm in Tennessee, and on the road to all manner of cities and towns where he performs. He shares his insights on music, books, religion, and the world in general. You get a real sense of how thoughtful and soulful the man really was.
Johnny also tells you some about the important people in his life. I feel this is the main weakness of his book because it takes the focus off him. However, how can Johnny tell his story without telling about the people who have helped and shaped him? It's heartwarming to hear about Johnny's appreciation and love for his friends and family.
This book was co-written by Patrick Carr, but somehow I believe that the 'voice' and words here are mostly Cash's. It is one of the best-written autobiographies I've ever read. You really feel as if you've spent some time with the guy, even though it's just words on a page.
This is highly recommended, no matter what type of music you enjoy, no matter what deity you worship....more
This is a good overview of the history and styles of traditional (and not) Celtic music.
The first chapter asks the question - what is Celtic music? ThThis is a good overview of the history and styles of traditional (and not) Celtic music.
The first chapter asks the question - what is Celtic music? The rest of the book answers the question, and the answer is more complex than you thought.
I learned a lot from this book, and I'm a pretty big fan of Irish and Scottish music. The author does a great job of connecting developments in traditional music with trends and moments in history. The subject matter covers nearly everything - songs in Gaelic, ballads, instruments, bagpipes, even rock and roll. I especially enjoyed the section on country music (it has roots in the old country, you know.)
What could have been better? Well, being an overview, none of these topics are covered in the depth they really deserve. Any of the artists discussed could have an entire book, or at least a chapter of a book, all to themselves.
I also thought there should have been more discussion of music from Wales, Cornwall, and other Celtic nations. We've heard so much about Ireland and Scotland - what else is out there?
If you're a fan of Celtic music, however you want to define it, this is a good book to read. No matter your level of expertise, you'll learn something. If you have no clue about Celtic music, this book will get you up to speed. Best of all, the author gives you 100 recordings to buy and enjoy. If you don't know where to start, that list is a good resource....more
**spoiler alert** It's not a perfect book, but I think this is a decent enough Beatles biography.
It's certainly a long one. I can't believe I just re**spoiler alert** It's not a perfect book, but I think this is a decent enough Beatles biography.
It's certainly a long one. I can't believe I just read an 800-page book. It took a little under a month to read.
The good: Spitz really captures the insanity of Beatlemania and the craziness that came with being a Beatle. With all the strange goings-on during the latter part of their career, it's amazing that they pulled it together enough to create such magic on record. Spitz touches on all the biggies - Hamburg, Sgt. Pepper, Paul is dead, Ed Sullivan, the trip to India. The detail is overwhelming, although it starts to lack in the last part of the book.
The bad: This really should have been called John Lennon, Brian Epstein and three other guys: A Biography. John seems to be the 'main character' in the story. I realize he and Paul were the two geniuses in the band, but I was under the impression that The Beatles were four men. Not one, not two, but four. I really could have used fewer depressing details about Brian Epstein (although they help you understand the tragedy of his life and death) and more details about George Harrison and Ringo Starr! Ringo, in particular, comes across in this book as simply a hired hand who was brought out for cheeky laughs and studio drumming. He was certainly much more than that!
Also, some parts of the book could have used much more detail. No discussion of the second-side medley of Abbey Road? Come on.
The ugly: Reviews on Amazon.com make it clear that this book is flawed and contains many errors. This is the first Beatles book I've read, so I know not what is fact and what is not. However, out of 860-some pages, Spitz must have got something right. Is his book any more flawed than any of the hundreds of other Beatles books? Also, when reading nonfiction, it is a good policy to take everything you read with a large grain of salt. Even first-hand accounts will be biased. The best thing to do is read more than one book to get all possible sides to the story.
The presence of errors, though, keeps me from scoring this book higher.
Did I enjoy it? Mostly. The Beatles aren't portrayed as good people. When possible, Spitz will point out a flaw over a virtue. The end of the book, of course, is a downer. But the behind-the-scenes stories and the mostly-good details of the creation of the music make this book worthwhile.
Last thing I'll say - I consider this to be a beginning to my quest for Beatles knowledge. I will not stop here, nor should I....more
I bought this for a friend a few years ago, and ended up reading it before I sent it to her. It's a really good overview of the history of women in poI bought this for a friend a few years ago, and ended up reading it before I sent it to her. It's a really good overview of the history of women in popular music. It examines many of the big issues women have to face in the music industry (sexism, racism, promotion, etc.) Some names you will recognize, others you will likely not. I think this is a great book about women in music, and great book about music in general. ...more
This book is unique because each member of Aerosmith (plus others) contributes to the story. Their names appear with their narrative, and it's nice toThis book is unique because each member of Aerosmith (plus others) contributes to the story. Their names appear with their narrative, and it's nice to get the different views on things.
The story starts off a little slow, with everyone talking about their roots and their early days as musicians. Interesting, yes, but not what we REALLY want to read.
Things start to get interesting when Aerosmith starts to come together. They worked very hard to get where they are today. The stories about their wild behavior will entertain you and maybe even shock you.
I really enjoyed the stories about A&R man John Kalodner. He was quite the character and had a big hand in making Aerosmith big again.
This is a good book if you're at all interested in Aerosmith, or interested in hearing tales of excess and craziness. It was nice to hear the story from ALL the members of Aerosmith.
Favorite part: Their early days before the fame hit.
Favorite character: Steven Tyler, of course! He's the star.
This isn't the book to read if you want in-depth information about particular bands. If you like to read about history, music and business trends andThis isn't the book to read if you want in-depth information about particular bands. If you like to read about history, music and business trends and get a good overview of important artists, this is a good read.
I found the first section of the book quite exciting and interesting. The author of that chapter begins by talking about the history of popular music in the United States, setting the foundation for the rock and roll to come. The information about the 40s and 50s wasn't as interesting to me, because many of the acts and songs are unfamiliar. I did, however, enjoy reading about the way the record industry worked back then.
Things get more interesting during the chapter about the 60s. You start reading faster as the "rock era" really begins to form. Familiar names start popping up and you learn about their place in the overall picture.
The book ends in the MTV era of the 80s. I think an updated version is needed, in order to cover the Grunge rock era. Personally, I would end the book with today's Indie Rock scene. That's where rock and roll is today.
Once you get through the 50s (although that may be interesting to you, depending on your age), this book is fascinating and informative.
Favorite part: The chapters about the 60s and 70s.
Favorite character: Alan Freed. He ruled popular music with an iron fist in the 1950s, but paid dearly for it. It's hard to imagine anyone doing such a thing today. ...more