Posts Tagged With: Mary J. Blige

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

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Also on the way from UT Press, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul

There’s plenty to dislike about the age of social media, especially Facebook. But at its best, Facebook allows people to share some really cool, signpost events in their lives, in real time. For example, we have the post below by writer Danny Alexander. The “something big” he finished at 1:22 Central Time this morning is the third draft of his UT Press American Music Series book on Mary J. Blige.

This one has been in the works for a while, and we’re not done with the editing just yet. But we’ve got it penciled in to come out as part of the UT Press spring list for 2016. Congratulations on this milestone, Mr. Alexander, and on we go.


 

MJBUTP

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Hello in there: More From UT Press

PrineEddie“Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown” was published in the fall of 2012 as the second book in University of Texas Press’ American Music Series (following Don McLeese’s “Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”), and it’s taken a while for us to get it going. As originally envisioned, we’re supposed to be putting out four AMS titles a year — two every spring, two every fall. Some right fine books have come out on Merle Haggard in 2013 and the Flatlanders in 2014, but we haven’t been able to maintain that schedule. Finally, however, we’ve found our footing enough that the pace of publication is about to pick up.

First off, the next American Music Series book coming out will be “John Prine: In Spite of Himself” by my fellow North Carolina music journalist Eddie Huffman. The official publication date is March 15, and it’s our series’ first book to come out in a hardcover version (also, it’s the first with an actual photograph of the subject on the cover). I was one of this book’s primary editors and the process wasn’t always easy. As Eddie writes of me in the book’s acknowledgements, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “He and I are probably both glad he won’t have to ask me ‘How are the rewrites coming?’ next time we cross paths at Cat’s Cradle or the PNC Arena.”

UTPressLogoBut my peskiness and his hard work paid off with a book we’re all quite proud of. And so far, the early pre-release response has been gratifying indeed. “In Spite of Himself” picked up a very fine review in Publishers Weekly, which also named it one of this spring’s most-anticipated books. Kirkus weighed in with a nice review, too, and there are a number of other reviews and reading-type events in the works as well. Eddie’s blog will be the place to keep up with all of that, so bookmark it. I think Eddie did a fantastic job on this book, and I hope you’ll like it.

Beyond that, here’s what else is on the AMS schedule so far:

October 2015

“Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt,” by Kristin Hersh
“Los Lobos: Dream in Blue,” by Chris Morris

Spring 2016

“Madonnaland,” by Alina Simone
Mary J. Blige (title to come), by Danny Alexander

Fall 2016

T-Bone Burnett (title to come), by Lloyd Sachs

Spring 2017

Chrissie Hynde (title to come), by Adam Sobsey

To be scheduled

Tom Jones (title to come), by Jon Langford

The book on the list I’m most excited about is “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by Kristin Hersh, leader of the band Throwing Muses and one of Chesnutt’s closest friends. I was blown away when I saw her manuscript because it’s spine-tinglingly brilliant, the best book of any sort I’ve read in years. Seriously, it gave me chills. I’m thrilled to be a part of that one, and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it.

Meanwhile, you might notice that yours truly is not on the AMS schedule anywhere. But I do have a book coming out on UT Press in October, one I think turned out really well. It’s called “Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel,” which I co-wrote with Asleep at the Wheel founder and guiding light Ray Benson. I’ll have more to say about this project later, but for now there’s a bit more about it here.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

News about the American Music Series, and me — I’ll be Asleep At The Wheel

So “Losering” is still semi-current and getting some attention here and there; I’m curious to see whether or not the next Ryan Adams album (whenever one emerges) might generate some more interest. But the book has been out there for more than six months, which means it’s high time to move along to the next thing. I’m happy to have some news about that, as well as the University of Texas Press American Music Series.

RayBensonMy next book will be co-writing a memoir with Ray Benson, founder and guiding light of the Western swing band Asleep At The Wheel, and it’s a project I could not be more excited about. I grew up in Texas during the ’70s progressive-country era, and I wrote my UT Master’s thesis about the Armadillo World Headquarters. I’ve always had a soft spot for that era’s icons, and as icons go Ray is one of the best — a fantastic musician and raconteur who, as the saying goes, has been around the world twice and talked to everybody at least once. This should be a raucous good time.

So that’s what I’ll be working on for the next year or so. While the Benson book is also for UT Press, this one won’t actually be part of the UT Press American Music Series. But work there continues apace. As mentioned previously, David Cantwell’s “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind” is next up, out in September, to be followed by John T. Davis’s “The Flatlanders: One More Road” in 2014. I’ve been asked to keep mum about several other titles in the works, but here are the ones in the pipeline that I can tell you about:

Los Lobos, by Chris Morris
John Prine, by Eddie Huffman
Vic Chesnutt, by Kristin Hersh
Ray Charles, by David Cantwell
Mary J. Blige, by Danny Alexander
Madonna, by Alina Simone

Obviously, the last two names are what jump off that list, possibly leaving you to wonder what the heck is going on here. Thus far the American Music Series has had an Americana focus, which is not surprising given that it’s an outgrowth of No Depression magazine. But the series is still developing an identity, and the truth is that we were always going to have to broaden it in terms of both styles and approaches to make it work. Thus, Mary J. Blige and Madonna.

UTPressLogoNow it’s certainly possible that American Music Series might eventually come to mean just “books about music.” Nevertheless, even though Blige and Madonna are both outliers (and probably as far as I’d care to go in this direction), I think you can build a case for both being a better fit than they might seem at first glance. Blige, The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, is firmly grounded in the r&b tradition, and I’ve always thought of her as more soul than hip-hop. A decade from now, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she were singing straight-up gospel because such an evolution would make perfect sense.

That brings us to Madonna, who is admittedly more of a stretch. But I think the real draw here will be Alina Simone, one of the most exciting new writers out there. I first met Alina a few years back when she lived in Chapel Hill and was playing intriguingly dark indie-rock along the lines of Cat Power and PJ Harvey. She really found her voice on 2008’s Everyone Is Crying Out To Me, Beware, a tribute album to the late “Yanka” (Soviet-era punk icon Yana Stanislavovna Dyagileva, who is Russia’s answer to Patti Smith). Sung entirely in Russian, Beware is a fascinating album with an even-more-fascinating back-story; you can read some of it here or here. Better still, read Alina’s wonderful 2011 memoir “You Must Go and Win.”

If Steve Earle, Jon Langford or another writerly Americana icon wanted to write a book for our series, I think we’d jump at the chance even if the subject they proposed fell outside the Americana universe. While Alina doesn’t have as high a musical profile as those two, she’s still part of this century’s indie-rock flock — someone that No Depression probably would have been reviewing if the magazine were still publishing when Beware came out. I think Alina’s idiosyncratic take on a cultural icon like Madonna will make for a great book. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with, and to be a part of sharing it with you.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.