With 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.”