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Time is Tight: My Life, Note by Note

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  172 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The long-awaited memoir of Booker T. Jones, leader of the famed Stax Records house band, architect of the Memphis soul sound, and one of the most legendary figures in music.

From Booker T. Jones's earliest years in segregated Memphis, music was the driving force in his life. While he worked paper routes and played gigs in local nightclubs to pay for lessons and support his
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  172 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Ever since reading My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire, and reading of the childhood friendship between Maurice White and Booker T. Jones, I've wanted to know more about Booker. What a life he has led! To have gone from growing up during racial segregation, to becoming a Superstar, this book tells it all. "Green Onions" has always been one of my favorite songs and I laughed when I read that it might have been called "Funky Onions"! Another of my favorite parts was reading about the PBS spe
Donna Wetzel
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Thanks Goodreads for my copy of Time is Tight by Booker T. Jones. Booker T of Booker T. and the MGs is the story of his life and rise to fame with lots of musical references. If you are a true aficionado of music you will appreciate much of the discussion of the songs. I grew up listening to his music and looked forward to reading about his life and musicians he interacted with along the way. Booker's choice to make the stories not be in chronological order was the books downfall, in my opinion. ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very enjoyable memoir by one of soul music's most important musicians. Written in a "not-quite chronological" style (in the prologue Booker explains that "Time doesn't always move straight forward....Time is open, yet time is tight") it is nonetheless a mostly straight forward story taking us through Booker's upbringing in Memphis, through his education and early work at Stax, and eventually to his "California Free" lifestyle. There's a lot of "inside-music" stuff - musicians will pro ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A great read for any fan of Booker T, Stax or southern soul in general. This offers a really refreshing take on the Stax years/people that is rarely heard. Since it's coming from a first-hand black perspective, it rubs up against alot of the kumbaya stories about Stax and the MGs which (now I realize) tend to come from a white viewpoint. Booker pulls no seems like it's his perspective, but maybe a little more truthful than most.

The writing isn't stellar, but I didn't expect it to be
Barry Hammond
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whether playing keyboards in the Staxx Records house band with Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Duck Dunn on classic soul songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Bill Withers and many others or composing classic instrumental tracks like "Green Onions," "Soul Limbo," or "Hang 'Em High," Booker T. Jones was an unstoppable musical force. But besides his most well-known accomplishments, he did many other projects over the years, such as producing, arranging and playing on Willie Nelson's biggest selling ...more
Susan The Book Dragon Campton
Happy Thanksgiving on this Throwback Thursday, my Fellow Book Dragons. I hope you had a lovely one. Our Gem this evening is “Time is Tight: My Life, Note by Note” by Gem creator Book T. Jones of Booker T & the MG’s. This Gem is not exactly a Gem, it is a creation made of Ebony, Ivory and Music. Let us take it from the beautiful green felt cloth it rests in and hold it up to the light. See the brilliant white of the Ivory, and the shimmering black of the Ebony. Feel the vibration of the tones as ...more
Lydia Wallace
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great life story of Booker T. Jones and his family and friends. I grew up listening to Booker T. Jones great music, but I never realized how hard it was for a artist of color to become recognized. When he was paid after a recording he wasn't made aware of all the money the record producers were making off his music. He was getting paid the bare minimum. He met and played with a lot of musicians that became great stars including himself. He met the love of his life after a few failed marri ...more
Keith Herrell
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Welp ... my apologies to Booker T. Here I thought his career was mostly spent cranking out variations of "Green Onions," and boy was I wrong. For starters, I had no idea he was the producer for Willie Nelson's "Stardust" album -- and the album itself might not have happened if it wasn't for Booker T. What I *did* know was his work ethic -- as a teen in Memphis, he simultaneously went to school, delivered *both* daily newspapers on his trusty bicycle, gigged at clubs regularly and worked on Stax ...more
Dean Browell
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible memoir and instantly one of my favorites (I... uh... read A LOT of musician bios). Soaked in Booker’s incredible role in music’s history from such an insanely early age (a working Stax in-house musician and nighttime club band member by age 16) but also tempered by a transparency and openness about his life one rarely sees. Also - each section in every chapter is tied to a specific note that makes a song - it’s so brilliant and weaves well with his own accounts that refreshing ...more
Don Gorman
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
(1 1/2). In my never ending quest for knowledge of the music world I was drawn to this memoir. I had heard about Booker for years, my older brother was at Indiana University when Booker was also a student there and I had heard about unbelievable jam sessions and local concerts. The book is a little sketchy, short fragments of stories about musical and personal goings on. It was refreshing to read about a childhood that was not abusive or dysfunctional, and the music history of Memphis is robust ...more
Harry Brake
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As I sit here listening to Green Onions by Booker T Jones, you realize how much about musicians you do not know unless you venture outside of a realm you always knew. Pulled interest from an interview on NPR on his latest biography, I did not know who Booker T Jones was and then I was hooked once I grabbed this account of his life.

It is is all, the life of a rockstar only in the form of a R&B hanging with the greats like BB King, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and of course Booker T an
Thomas P.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought the story was very good but too disjointed. I did not mind the author jumping back and forth with regard to time periods, but new people and events sometimes would just randomly pop into the story with no background given. This whole story of Booker T. Jones, organ and piano player of Booker T. and the MGs, was written by Booker T. himself, which would explain some of the rough edges of the book, as Jones is not a writer. Though I would have preferred that Jones include more about his ...more
Steve Portigal
Did not finish. One of those books that I pick up, start a few pages, and realize, nope, there's no way I can get through this. I wish I had the patience, but the writing style was attempting a level of sophistication that was well beyond what Jones (and his editors?) could deliver on. Further, it quickly became incomplete anecdotes, one after another. I felt like I could focus my reading energy elsewhere and I'd be fine. ...more
Patrick Macke
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
A meandering, sensitive and ego-free account of the life and times of a talented musician and a fine gentleman ... Booker T. seemingly knew everyone and was virtually everywhere during the decades that provided the soundtrack for our lives, but he doesn't brag about it, rather, this is a humble, slow-paced telling that, at times, feels more for the benefit of the writer than the reader ...more
John Lamiell
Feb 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I’m a HUGE fan of the music that came from Stax Records. My style of playing sax derives directly from those great musicians, including the wonderful Booker T. The 1 star rating is only reflective of this book, not of Booker T. I found the book to be very disjointed and scattered, very difficult to read. Probably my fault, because my brain may be too linear.
Kent Hayden
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
More proof that interesting musicians aren't necessarily the best guys to write about their lives. Mr. Jones does provide a lot of detail about his recordings particulary about the Stax years on Memphis but has an annoying time shift every second chapter. 1956 - 2003-1965-1971. I was dizzy trying to figure it out. ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, real, memoir
This was fantastic. We went to see Booker T. here in Cleveland when he played and read excerpts from this book. I had to buy it! :). I enjoyed the stories so much and it was amazing to read about all the great musicians he played with and influenced throughout his life. His stories were told perfectly from childhood to adulthood. Great read!
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't necessarily need to read a book about Booker T. Jones because it is his music that I love so much. While the book was certainly interesting and I learned quite bit from having read it, I should have stuck to just the music. After all, you can't hardly improve on Booker's musical library. ...more
Mickey McIntosh
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a member of the legendary Booker T. and the MG's, and working with a host of great musicians, Booker T. Jones shares his experiences, ups and downs, and triumphs throughout this book. Definitely a great music biography, and Jones is a great storyteller. ...more
Jay Gabler
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
"In the studio, Lou Reed and Biz Markie were different as night and day."

There is only one man who could have that line in his memoir. I reviewed Time is Tight for The Current.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
For the Booker T. & M.G.s fan, this book is a must-have. In his memoir, Booker T. weaves a musical montage.
Doris Raines
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jerry Smith
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 2019_fav
I love Booker T. His music is so much more influential to everything after than he gets credit for.
Great read.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting look into Booker T. Jones life as seen by Booker T. Jones
I won this book on Goodreads
John Danielson
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
enjoyed very much, such a gifted person, his parents provided the support he needed
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A absolute must read,great book,couldn't put it down,a gift to world not only for his music but for the human being he is
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is superb. It is easily the most engaging music memoir I have read. Booker T becomes a friend and you will miss him when you finish reading.
Frederick Reed
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! One of my favorite musician autobiographies along with Bill Bruford's :) ...more
Phyllis Dixon
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book because I live in Memphis, otherwise I think it would not have been that interesting.
Edward Sullivan
Though the disjointed narrative style can be annoying, this is nonetheless an enjoyable and revealing memoir of a music legend who had an extraordinarily prolific, influential career.
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