Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends

Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends

Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends

Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends

Synopsis

In this book of original interviews, some of country music's greatest stars share personal moments of redemption, inspiration, and heartache related to the music that shaped their lives. Brenda Lee explains how her childhood singing gift raised her entire family out of dire poverty, and Pat Boone speaks about the spiritual influence of his father-in-law, Red Foley. Barbara Pittman talks about her childhood friendship with Elvis Presley, while Little Jimmy Dickens divulges how Hank Williams came to write a song for him and why he never recorded it. Mickey Gilley talks about gladly living in, then gladly escaping, the shadow of his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, and Hank Thompson reveals how his background in electrical engineering helped revolutionize country music. Freddie Hart shares how he overcame a jail-cell beating to become Mr. Easy Lovin', and Marty Martel talks about how the troubled Johnny Paycheck redeemed himself during his final sad days. More stories pour forth from Glen Campbell, Don Williams, Johnny Legend, Chris Hillman, and many others.

Excerpt

Country music changed my life.

No, not in the cataclysmic way that some of this book's subjects have been changed. More like the gradual change that occurs when water steadily drips on a rock. One way or another, country music has insinuated itself so completely into my world that I cannot imagine life without it.

I was raised in the downriver area of southeastern Michigan, where country music was part of the soundtrack of my youth. My sister's record collection included singles by the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, and Elvis Presley, who infused country with the catchy big beat of early rock 'n' roll. My favorite radio station—WKNR, Keener 13—regularly mixed hits by the Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash, and Roger Miller with soul, pop, garage rock, novelty, and British Invasion records. They put those diverse styles on the same playlist and let them fight it out between your ears like some sort of sonic pinball machine. It was cool. When not reviewing a specific project for print, this is still the way I play music at home.

My dad's life could've been the blueprint for the song "Detroit City." One of ten kids, he hitchhiked from his boyhood home in Kentucky to the Detroit area factories. He . . .

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