Friday, May 19, 2017

Johnny's Cash & Charley's Pride: Peter Cooper's stories of Music City Legends

One of my biggest challenges in keeping up posts on what I'm reading is that sometimes the book I have just finished insists on jumping to the front of the line. I had a busy reading month in April, and I have several books I still plan to introduce here. This week, though, I went to Parnassus Books to hear Peter Cooper read from his new book Johnny's Cash & Charley's Pride.

Cooper was the music writer for the Tennessean for a long time, which gave him the opportunity to meet and interview so  many legends of country music.  He's also a singer-songwriter and, as I learned this week, he's quite a storyteller.

Of course, the book covers the best known figures of country music--Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard--but he also shares great stories about "Cowboy" Jack Clement, Don Light, Jimmy Martin, and even Ann Soyars, who took up money at the door of the Station Inn for years.  Best of all, he gives a glimpse into the way the lives of the famous and not-yet-famous intertwined with those who were not famous at all. 

This is one of those rare books that sets the synapses jumping in my brain, reminding me of my own stories and of the music that's been playing since I was sixteen, maybe younger. After the book event, I started building a playlist, and as I read, it grew and grew--favorite songs, great music I hadn't discovered yet, some music I have in vinyl but not in any more updated format. I'm listening to Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings, Lee Ann Womack, and Irene Kelly, Chris Stapleton, and of course Kris Kristofferson.

Now that I've sped through the book, I can't decide whether to share it with a friend first or to start back over and read through one more time. It's that much fun.


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