Posts Tagged With: American Music Series

Coming in 2017: “Woman Walk the Line”

UTPressLogoWith Lloyd Sachs’ “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit” safely launched, we turn to the next book in the American Music Series, which will be the 11th that University of Texas Press has published since 2012. And that’s “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography,” by Adam Sobsey; we’ll have plenty more to say about it closer to the March 2017 publication date. Meanwhile, there’s also some American Music Series news beyond that.

Coming in the fall of 2017 is “Woman Walk the Line: Women Writers on the Female Country Artists Who Marked Their Soul,” which will be something of a departure for the series. Up to now, it’s been all critical biographies by a single author and about a single subject. But “Woman Walk the Line” is our first essay collection by multiple authors. Subjects include a wide range of artists from classic to contemporary — Rosanne Cash, Taylor Swift, Loretta Lynn, The Judds, Alison Krauss, Bobbie Gentry, Tammy Wynette — with Cash, Swift, Holly George-Warren and Meredith Ochs among the contributors writing about why these artists matter.

Overseeing “Woman Walk the Line” as editor is Holly Gleason — a long-time critic, author and Nashville insider who is also the only music critic I know with a co-writing credit for a No. 1 hit (Kenny Chesney’s 2008 country smash “Better as a Memory”). Between her connections, critical chops and deeply passionate writing voice, there’s no one better to edit a book like this.

“‘Woman Walk the Line’ came about because it feels like we’re not just in danger of losing the story of so many incredible artists, especially the women, but that deeper sense of what music can truly to mean to someone in their life,” says Holly. “The way this music and these women are written about says so much about the way music marks our lives, shapes our journey or keeps us safe in rugged times. It’s women of varying ages all writing about how music touched and changed their lives — part witness, part love letter, a bit of music criticism, a little history and a whole lot of heart. It’s more than what they wore or who they dated, as today’s reductionist media makes it. And that’s where the marrow of these essays begins.”

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Launching “A Life in Pursuit”

Just in time for this week’s Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville — where T Bone Burnett is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech — dig our latest American Music Series title, which is about that very artist and penned by the estimable Chicago-based scribe Lloyd Sachs. Officially, “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit” won’t be published until after the calendar rolls over to October. But it’s already picking up reviews, and here is an excerpt.

Lloyd and my University of Texas Press editorial colleague Casey Kittrell will be in Nashville to unveil “A Life in Pursuit” with some events at the Americana festival (which was also where I launched “Losering” four years ago). This brings us to an even 10 titles for the series. Meanwhile, “A Life in Pursuit” should already be on the shelf of your favorite retail establishment wherever fine books are sold. And of course, you can order it online from the usual places.

ADDENDUM (9/23/2016): Here is Mr. Burnett’s Americanafest keynote address.

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Kristin Hersh’s lighter side

TobySnaxOf the 10 books that University of Texas Press has published on our American Music Series imprint, one stands out as the best by a mile: “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by the phenomenal musician/author Kristin Hersh, which will also be coming out on paperback this fall. It’s a beautiful and amazing book, and intermittently hilarious — but it’s also very, very dark, to the point that I found it shattering to read.

Kristin’s literary followup to “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die,” however, will be a considerably lighter affair. Coming this fall, right around the same time as the “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” paperback, is “Toby Snax,” a children’s book that Kristin wrote and illustrated based on stories she used to tell her four sons. Kristin originally self-published “Toby Snax” herself in 2007 with a few hundred copies (which have since become very valuable collector’s items). UT Press is reissuing the book, which will get it back into wider circulation; look for that in September. Meantime, the catalog description is below.

Toby Snax is a little bunny who’s reluctant to experience things away from home. When Mama asks him to join her on a trip, he needs a bit of encouragement. So Mama tells Toby about the wondrous things that await him out in the wide world, helping him to look forward to new adventures.

This charming, gentle book will resonate with any child who’s nervous about trying new things. The acclaimed musician Kristin Hersh created Toby Snax to encourage her son, Bodhi, to embrace the experiences of touring the world together while she performed both solo and with her bands 50 Foot Wave and Throwing Muses. The first edition of the book sold out immediately and has become highly collectible. This new edition makes Toby Snax available again for all fans of Hersh’s evocative storytelling, as well as children—or even adults—who need a little reassurance that the world is full of wonders.

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American Music Series pursues T Bone Burnett

SachsTBoneDig if you will the cover of our next University of Texas Press American Music Series entry, “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit,” written by the Chicago-based writer Lloyd Sachs and due out on hardback in October. Among other things, this is the first book we’ve put out that will have pictures as well as prose. And as a longtime T Bone fan who cherishes my autographed copy of Proof Through the Night (which Burnett signed Help fight Truth Decay for me many years ago), I am excited and honored to be a part of this one.

“A Life in Pursuit” has gone through a number of titles along the way, including the original working title “The True True Identities.” Its publication will make it an even 10 titles for the American Music Series since it started up in the spring of 2012; and we’ll get to 11 books with “Chrissie Hynde Up the Neck” in the spring of 2017. A few more books are in the early stages at the moment, and I can’t really say anything about them just yet. But they’re going to be very cool.

For now, I’m enjoying this handsome cover — and the fact that we’ve reached the double-digit milestone, with more to come.

 

 

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Madonna and Mary J. Blige: Lots more drama, coming right up

The American Music Series I co-edit for University of Texas Press marches on with our newest releases, a pair of titles due out on the first of March — and they’ll definitely break us out well beyond anything like Americana. So keep an eye out for two books I’m proud to have been involved with, “Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” by the fabulous Alina Simone; and “Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige” by Kansas City-based author Danny Alexander. Now I’ve got two more reasons to obsessively check amazon every day.

Meantime, next up on the American Music Series docket will be T Bone Burnett, coming this fall.

ADDENDA: An actual New York Times review of “Madonnaland,” plus an excerpt on LitHub and a most-excellent PopMatters review. Also from PopMatters, a Blige review.

 

MaddyMary

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Fifteen minutes at No. 15 on the best-of-2015 list

NDTRRlogoWith Christmas approaching and holiday buying season in full effecthint, hint — yearend best-of lists are beginning to roll in. And I’m happy to note that “Comin’ Right at Ya” has made it onto a really nice countdown alongside some very choice company in No Depression’s book column, “The Reading Room’s Best Books of 2015” as compiled by Henry Carrigan (who was kind enough to include me in another column last month about bookish influences).

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“Comin’ Right at Ya” appears at No. 15 on No Depression’s top-40, right between legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty and “Dean of American Rock Critics” Robert Christgau. Heck yeah, I’ll take that — especially since we quoted a few of Christgau’s “Consumer Guide” reviews of various Asleep at the Wheel albums in the book.

Being at No. 15 also puts “Comin’ Right at Ya” ahead of Chrissie Hynde’s memoir “Reckless” at No. 18; my American Music Series colleague Chris Morris’ “Los Lobos: Dream in Blue” at No. 20; Texas country icon Willie Nelson’s “It’s a Long Story: My Life” at No. 35; and (how about that) my idol Greil Marcus’ “Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns” at No. 39.

As for the books at the top end of No Depression’s list, the No. 1 placement of Peter Guralnick’s exhaustive and much-acclaimed “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll” is no surprise. The same goes for Patti Smith’s “M Train” at No. 3 and Kristin Hersh’s gorgeously painful American Music Series title “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt,” plus memoirs by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon at No. 9 and Elvis Costello at No. 10.

I’d also like to note that it’s extremely cool to see my buddy Steve Knopper’s “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” come in two notches ahead of Ray Benson and me, at No. 13 — even though I don’t want him to be getting any ideas about that.

ReadingRmYearend

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Alina Simone’s ray of light

UTP2016As noted here before, the road from proposal to publication is a long one when you’re working with a university press. It’s a several-year process that comes with a number of milestones that include several stages of editing, editorial approval and the cover. One of the last steps before a book actually appears is enshrinement in the catalog, and it just so happens that the Spring/Summer 2016 University of Texas Press catalog arrived in my mail today — including entries given over to a couple of American Music Series titles, Danny Alexander’s Mary J. Blige book and Alina Simone’s “Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” (both due out in March).

Along with a very nice Amanda Palmer blurb, “Madonnaland” also has an enthusiastic endorsement from best-selling author Ben Greenman:

Alina Simone’s critical (and hilariously self-critical) look at pop culture, ambition, identity, and the strange things that can happen when art meets time is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a ray of light.

Nice.

MadonnaCatalog

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What’s on YOUR bookshelf?

ReadingRmIn one way or another, I’m constantly asking musicians and artists about their artistic influences when I’m doing interviews — but it’s unusual for someone to ask that of me. One of the few people to do so is Henry Carrigan, book columnist for No Depression, who asked me a few questions related to my own back pages in the course of putting together a piece about “Comin’ Right at Ya.”

Henry was kind enough to include my responses in a “Reading Room” column headlined “What Are You Reading?,” alongside a pretty august set of my fellow scribes: Tamara Saviano, who is currently working on a Guy Clark biography that I’m quite certain will be amazing; my American Music Series colleague David Cantwell; Jewly Hight, another writer I hope to coax into the AMS at some point; Geoffrey Himes, author of a very fine tome about Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.; and Alan Paul, who published an acclaimed Allman Brothers biography last year.

Check that here. Spoiler alert: My part contains what is probably the only paragraph you’ll ever read that references both “North Dallas Forty” and “The Lord of the Rings.” And of course, I also had to get in another plug for “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die,” too.

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You could look it up: T Bone Burnett also on the way for 2016

Madonna and Mary J. Blige aren’t all that’s coming from the American Music Series in 2016. Also now officially in the pipeline is a book on T Bone Burnett, the mystic auteur behind “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, among many other Americana signposts. Scheduled for fall 2016 on University of Texas Press and tentatively titled “The True True Identity,” it’s written by the Chicago-based critic Lloyd Sachs. Upon receiving word this week that he had attained final approval (a process that can indeed be something of an ordeal), Lloyd marked the occasion as one does nowadays — on Facebook, with the post below. Congratulations, Mr. Sachs.

LSTBB

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Coming in March: Madonnaland, and The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul

MadonnalandI’ve had a blast on the “Comin’ Right at Ya” promotional front this month, including a very nice event Wednesday night at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh that drew a kindly attentive full house. I read a bit, took questions and repeated some of Ray Benson’s jokes, which tend to be a lot funnier than my own jokes, so it worked out great. Of course, I also couldn’t let the crowd go without getting in a plug for Kristin Hersh’s “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt.” I even told them that if they could only buy one book, it should be that one instead of mine (sorry, Ray, but know that we sold plenty anyway).

Everyone in the University of Texas Press orbit is still pulling for “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” and the rest of our current titles to break out. Hope springs eternal, but pretty much all of that is out of our hands at this point. Meantime, work continues on getting the next round of American Music Series books out into the world. Coming in March are two books that will, at the very least, break us out beyond the Americana universe; and we have final titles and cover art on both.

MJB“Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” is the third book by the fabulous Alina Simone, with a nice pink cover and a terrific testimonial blurb at the bottom from cabaret icon Amanda Palmer. You probably can’t read that here without a magnifying glass, so I’ll spare you the trouble:

“A profound and hilarious stream-of-consciousness funfair ride through the postmodern theme park of super fans, celebrity, taste, and capitalism.”

Nice! More to follow, I hope.

Alongside “Madonnaland” next spring, we’ll also have Danny Alexander’s “Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige” (which, title aside, nevertheless has a very dramatic cover). I’d say this is the most ambitious critical appraisal of the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s catalog that any writer has ever attempted. And I can’t wait for other people to get to read both of these.

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