Since starting my Dolly Parton project a few years ago, I have been an avid reader of all things related to the Queen of Country herself. Many of these books are worth recommending so I thought I would write a post grouping these into categories to help the average reader choose what might be best suited to their reading taste!Continue reading “Dolly Parton Book Guide”
Earlier this year I ordered country music star Carrie Underwood’s book ‘Find Your Path’, which was marketed as a wellness and lifestyle guide. On the cover she is standing in a meadow, smiling in the sunshine, holding a flower, wearing white and looking like an angel come to inspire us all to live a happier and healthier life.
Inside we have more pretty pictures of her beautiful husband and children. So far, so aspirational.
However when I read the introduction sentence, the alarm bells started ringing immediately. She begins this book with the admission:
‘Sometimes I go a whole day without sitting down once.’
Okay, that doesn’t sound good to me. Not good at all.
The advice only gets more concerning from this point onwards. ‘Find Your Path’ reads like a brutal lesson in how the music industry (or fame itself) sends people to extreme perfectionism just in order to survive.Continue reading “On Carrie Underwood’s Problematic ‘Find Your Path’”
Margo Price’s debut album ‘Mid-West Farmer’s Daughter’ told the story of a harrowing, hard-fought struggle to make it in the music industry, exploring grief, marriage, poverty, addiction, prison and the desperation of depression.
That story is recounted in her stunning new memoir ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’, an unflinching and unapologetic manifesto of personal and artistic freedom.Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’ by Margo Price”
When the world was dark and all seemed lost there was one person we could rely on to bring some light, some joy, some sparkle, even a potential cure for coronavirus and that was Saint Dolly Parton. Some have called for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, others requested the vaccine she helped to fund be named after her (or Jolene). It’s Dolly’s world and we’re all just blessed to be living at the same time as this beacon of hope for humanity. Continue reading “Book Review: Dolly Parton – ‘Songteller – My Life in Lyrics’”
Last year in her song ‘The Greatest’ Lana Del Rey, with an eerie prescience, predicted the nightmarish world we are now living in. She sang about how the world was burning, how she missed New York, missed the music, how Kanye West was gone, how the livestream was on…calling it the greatest loss of them all. We didn’t know what we had til it was gone.
Some albums win end of year polls and are forgotten as soon as the year turns. Others define the mood of a whole era, and for me Norman Fucking Rockwell, with its bittersweet odes to our painful modern reality, does just that.
The final song on the album ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it’ is a necessary reminder that even in dystopian, pandemic hell we must need to cling to beauty, music, poetry, hope above all else.
In that song Lana described herself as 24/7 Sylvia Plath, which some may raise an eyebrow at – after all this is an artist who has long used such reference points as part of her glamodrama musical aesthetic. But this was no throwaway lyric. Lana was serious about writing poetry and has now published her first collection Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass. Continue reading “On Lana Del Rey and the sweet gift of ‘Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass’”
Blood, Allison Moorer’s new memoir and album, recounts the shocking story of how her father killed her mother and then himself after years of abusive behaviour. The unmitigated horror of her childhood experience is faced head on and she contemplates the legacy of such trauma and loss in her adult life. Unflinchingly honest and achingly raw, Blood is one of the most profoundly moving testaments to the pain of grief and the power of love that I have ever experienced. Continue reading “Review: Allison Moorer – ‘Blood’”
The subtitle to Wanda Jackson’s engaging memoir signals an important conflict at the heart of her career: she started as a country singer but found herself serendipitously transported to the world of rock and roll, firstly thanks to her boyfriend Elvis and more recently due to the dedicated fandom of the rockabilly scene. Yet she never left country music behind and you can tell as you read her life story that in her heart she wishes for more recognition from the genre she began singing in. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ by Wanda Jackson”
Exploring the subject of how music and sexuality have become entwined in popular culture is the hugely ambitious task which critic Ann Powers takes on in this book ‘Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music.’ Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Good Booty’ by Ann Powers”
I had planned on discussing another book this month but then I happened to start reading ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen and after finishing it in one sitting I knew I had to write about this blisteringly brilliant biography. In the introduction Lily explains the reasons behind her decision to write her story. I am writing this because writing is what I do, it’s both my living and the way I live, the way I make sense of things, the way I try to learn my lessons. Biography becomes another way to express her art, her truth. Women in music need a voice like Lily’s to be heard, someone who has been through the intense scrutiny of fame and survived. Continue reading “Book Review: On ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen”