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Reading Update: Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity

Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity

Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity

Some time ago I finished reading "Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity" by Alton Delmore, edited by Charles K. Wolfe. Alton Delmore and his brother Rabon were the Delmore Brothers, a very influential duo from the early days of country music. Written by someone who saw it happen first-hand, it gives you great insight into the growth of music during that era, and the challenges that professional musicians met. Delmore talks about the musicians they encountered, (he claims to have given Roy Acuff his key break into the business), and the tough deals handed musicians by agents.  The Delmore Brothers wrote an enormous number of songs, and their unique vocal style has influenced such artists as the Everly Brothers, Jim and Jesse, and Bob Dylan. They were a mainstay on Grand Ole Opry and other radio stations, sold out performances, and had numerous hits during their career, but barely managed to eke out a living.

The unfinished manuscript was edited by Wolfe, but left mostly as Delmore wrote it.  If you're interested in music at all, this is a great book to read.

The Delmore Brothers website
wikipedia entry

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Recent Music Readings

A quick blog to update the world about my reading activities. I wish I had some time to write full reviews, but I can say that all of the books below are highly recommended if you're into music.

Lady Sings the Blues - by Billie Holiday with William Dufty. This is an autobiography of Lady Day, one of my favourite jazz singers. A short but revealing book about her life, addictions, how she was exploited by others, etc..

A couple of good music books.

Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Studios and the Birth of Recorded Jazz - by Rick Kennedy. Gennett was an early recording studio and label started in 1915 by a piano manufacturer. An early recording pioneer using acoustic/wax recording facilities, they recorded numerous jazz greats: Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Hoagy Carmichael, and many more.

Johnny Cash : The Life of an American Icon - by Stephen Miller. Icon is right. A good bio following his life from his beginnings with some part-time musicians/full time mechanics (Marshall Grant - bass, Luther Perkins - guitar), how they caught the ear of Sam Phillips at Sun Studios with their unpolished brand new sound, through his on-again off-again pill addiction, erratic behaviour, connection with the Carter family, and so on. Fascinating character.

I Was There When It Happened

I Was There When It Happened : My Life With Johnny Cash - by Marshall Grant. It's the whole Johnny Cash story from the perspective of his long-time friend, bass player and road manager. It's not a really well written book - a little disjointed at times - but it's very interesting to hear the story from someone who really was there.

Soulsville, U.S.A. : The Story of Stax Records - by Rob Bowman. Stax was an important studio/label in Memphis, TN in the 1960s and 1970s. Greats such as Carla Thomas, Booker T and the MGs, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave (and many more) recorded there. This is quite an in-depth book following Stax from its inception to its ultimate financial demise. Quite fascinating. I also bought a 9 CD compilation of Stax's singles to get the aural perspective. A lot of great music came out of Stax, but many of the names are not that well known because they were up against the Motown hit machine. Although Motown had some great stuff, I think Stax deserves greater recognition.

Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley - by Timothy White. Great bio on Bob Marley - lots of background and information on a reggae great.  This is probably one of the better bios written about Bob.

No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley - by Rita Marley. Another good read - from Bob's wife's perspective. I didn't quite finish the book 🙁 - I lost it at the Montreal airport last August (please let me know if you find it).

More to come in a later post!

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