Sunday, July 12, 2009

Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock ‘n’ Roll - Nick Tosches

"...reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven; medieval myth and musical miscegenation; sex, drugs, murder; and rays of fierce illumination on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others, famous and forgotten, whose demonology is America’s own. Profusely and superbly illustrated..."

http://www.amazon.com/Country-Twisted-Roots-Rock-Roll/product-reviews/0306807130/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock ‘n’ Roll - Nick Tosches


INSIDE: http://www.amazon.com/Country-Twisted-Roots-Rock-Roll/dp/0306807130/ref=sr_1_20/185-4542574-6395216?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247430691&sr=8-20?ie=UTF8&tag=fg0f-20

From Publishers Weekly
A historical look at the seedy underbelly of country music. Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Description: Celebrating the dark origins of our most American music, Country reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven; medieval myth and musical miscegenation; sex, drugs, murder; and rays of fierce illumination on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others, famous and forgotten, whose demonology is America’s own. Profusely and superbly illustrated, Country stands as one of the most brilliant explorations of American musical culture ever written.


“Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews


20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Irreverent Yet Loving!, May 15, 2000
By Ralph Quirino (Keswick, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Tosches displays not only a historian's love for the eras he writes about, but a gossip columnist's passion for irreverence and shock. That makes this book and its companion (Unsung Heroes of Rock & Roll) completely essential reads for anyone who loves popular twentieth century music. And, it blows the lid off country's origins in a way guaranteed to outrage country's often-times "holier-than-thou" patrons. Obscure names, obscure songs, obscure facts all mesh to create a living, breathing historical time-capsule that speaks as much about the era the music was recorded in as the music itself. And the writing is dry yet never condescending, witty yet never demeaning, sincere yet unafraid to point out "the truth" no matter how ugly and undignified it may be. But you'll learn to love the heroes that pepper this book for the pioneers they were. And, when the last page is read, you'll come back to it again and again. Part of the pleasure of reading a great book is rereading it and learning much more than you did the last time you read it... Tosches manages that feat thanks to an unflinching eye for detail and a poet's way with words.



14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
2.0 out of 5 stars Fun but Flawed and Faulty, September 18, 2006
By Ronald Forbes-roberts "emperoroficcream" (Northwest) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Tosches is an entertaining and skillful writer and the premise of this book is an important and timely one. Country music has been diluted, softened and stripped of what once made it great and is now in the hands of the pallid "new country" gang of cheeseballs. Tosches saw this coming way back in the mid-70s, resented it and wrote this book. Unfortunately Country is full of misconceptions, omissions and serious factual errors. Yes, country music did have a dark side but it's always had a family and religious side as well and even in its earliest stages could cross over into sentimental and mawkish pap. This didn't start in the 50's as Tosches insists but was present in the music of the Carter Family and Jimmy Rogers (Tosches barely mentions either) who between them invented the genre. Their music embraced both sides of the coin as did every great country artist who ever lived including Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. (Tosches unfairly savages Cash in this book for his lightweight songs which is odd because in an article written 15 years later, Tosches praises him to the skies although Cash had written no groundbreaking tunes in the intervening years)
Tosches makes much of how the British murder ballad tradition disappeared completely from early country music, ignoring (or perhaps being unaware of) songs like Banks of the Ohio or Knoxville Girl--both of which were major country hits in the 30s and 50s respectively and are both taken directly from the murder ballad tradition as are many, many other country songs.
His chapter on the development of the dobro and steel guitar is potentially interesting but is full of major errors. Tosches seems unaware of the major differences between dobro, slide guitar, steel guitar, pedal steel guitar and so on and at times it sounds like he thinks they're all the same instrument with only minor alterations. For example, he doesn't mention the difference in the number of strings between dobro and pedal steel nor the very different tunings used. This would be acceptable if the discussion were brief but considering the space he devotes to the topic, these omissions are glaring. It would be a bit like saying that the piano is just a big harpsichord.
At one point he strongly disagrees with musicologists who claim that many country guitarists were influenced by jazz guitarists. He claims that the guitarist from Milton Brown's band couldn't have been influenced by Django Reinhardt because--he says--Reinhardt's records didn't reach the states until the late 30's. Wrong, Nick. Try 1933. Eddie Lang, who had a huge influence on country guitarists is never mentioned nor is Charlie Christian whose work was the source of the style of every gutiarist who played with Bob Wills.
But the most unforgiveable mistake is his insistence that Maybelle Carter's guitar playing had as much influence on country music as "Rudy Vallee." Read the history of the Carter Family, "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" and the many testimonials from the greatest country guitarists ever recorded who all say that their primary influence was Mother Maybelle. This is so evident simply by listening to classic country music rhythm guitar playing that one wonders if Tosches has actually heard any.
Also, Tosches can't resist proving to us once again that he is a scholar of Greek and Roman literature and history and his references to this subject are sometimes laughably incongruous, clearly designed to convince us that his scholary credentials are unimpeachable. Usually these tedious asides have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Still, Tosches is a good writer, full of irreverence and wit and great turns of phrase. This is a fun book to read and Tosches makes a few good points. But if you want to read truly well researched books on country music, forget this and pick up Bill Malone's Country Music USA and Rich Kienzle's excellent book Southwest Shuffle, a fantastically researched book which says more about the real roots of "New Country" in one chapter than Tosches says in this entire poorly realized mess of a book.



5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars This book belongs in every home, July 22, 2003
By Tony Thomas (SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)
In a reader review of Tosches' book on Emmett Miller, whose real origins are in the imaginary chapters of the first edition of this book, this book belongs in every home. The writing is this book alone is worth the price. He's a vigorous wise ass and elegant literary dynamo. If you just read the writing, and dont give a hoot about country music, you will enjoy yourself.
So much of music writing is devoled to haigiagraphy and confirming ignorant common places, whereas Tosches is concerned with the dirty nasty truth, and the wild side of things. You aren't going to learn that Roy Acuff who appointed himself a great country music icon, decades after he had had a hit, began his work in music with a group called "the Bang Boys" that specialized in X rated songs.

His description of a Jerry Lee Lewis recording session sometimes in the 1970s is really masterful and still rings in my mind 20 years after I first read it. Likewise, you will love Tosches' description of the dark end of Spade Cooley. Cooley torutured and murdered his wife because Cooley believed she had banged Roy Rodgers--and Cooley got into show business a double for Roy Rogers in the movies!

There is so much uncovered about the real origins of rock and roll.

No one can live without the first book that wasn't afraid to let you know that Hank Williams was bald!

If you don't have this book in your house, buy it, or move in with someone who's got it!

Dont forget his great book on Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire.
This man knows how to write!



0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Be aware!, October 25, 2006
By Bruce London - See all my reviews

A great read with terrific pictures of many past greats, BUT, the same book has been re-issued under three diferent titles!



20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
Irreverent Yet Loving!, May 15, 2000
By Ralph Quirino (Keswick, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews

Tosches displays not only a historian's love for the eras he writes about, but a gossip columnist's passion for irreverence and shock. That makes this book and its companion (Unsung Heroes of Rock & Roll) completely essential reads for anyone who loves popular twentieth century music. And, it blows the lid off country's origins in a way guaranteed to outrage country's often-times "holier-than-thou" patrons. Obscure names, obscure songs, obscure facts all mesh to create a living, breathing historical time-capsule that speaks as much about the era the music was recorded in as the music itself. And the writing is dry yet never condescending, witty yet never demeaning, sincere yet unafraid to point out "the truth" no matter how ugly and undignified it may be. But you'll learn to love the heroes that pepper this book for the pioneers they were. And, when the last page is read, you'll come back to it again and again. Part of the pleasure of reading a great book is rereading it and learning much more than you did the last time you read it... Tosches manages that feat thanks to an unflinching eye for detail and a poet's way with words.



7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Masterpiece!, October 21, 1998
By CoolCrosby@aol.com (Cleveland, OH) - See all my reviews
I loved this book. I read it when it was called COUNTRY: THE BIGGEST MUSIC IN AMERICA which I thought was perfect in an ironic sense then and now. This is the thinking person's guide to why C&W matters.



5 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Nick Tosches is one of our most important writers, February 27, 1998
By A Customer
Greetings from Bella Bella, BC and thank you for providing a forum for readers to express their admiration and awe for the writers and publishing houses who support them. I am sorry to intrude on this review station for his other book; however, I believe this may help all parties rooting for Mr.Tosches. I have re-read Nick Tosches' "Trinities" now for the third time. If you have not read this novel, wind sprint to your nearest bookstore and pick it up. Nick Tosches has unleashed hell on earth with this powerful, brutal and unapologetic story about men killing each other off to control the worldwide herion export/import business. I think Nick Tosches is a man who knows way too much and I am glad his publisher gave him the support to publish this book. I want, however, to give the publisher heck for using possibly the worst cover I have ever seen on any book. That's right! The first cover on the mass trade paperback was horrible and really revealed nothing about the true power and wisdom waiting to be told in the following pages. I am glad to see a new cover on the novel. I have no doubt this will increase sales and perhaps spur more great reviews for Mr. Tosches. I cannot find any of Nick's other books in Canada and am desperately trying to find them. Can anyone out there help me? Nick Tosches, you have written one of the most powerful books I have ever read. You managed to capture the strangest beauty in your brutal, bloody story. I do not know how you did it, but you did. Congratulations and please hurry up and come out with another great novel. Your fan, Richard Van Camp



1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Makes punk and gangsta look tame, May 15, 2006
By Earth that Was - See all my reviews
Anyone who thinks country music is boring needs to read this book. A great warts and all treatment of the dark underbelly of C & W. Fascinating trivia and insights for anyone familiar with the great country music of the 1930s to 1950s. The twisted roots of Country makes punk and gangsta look tame.



0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The Master of purple prose and truth stikes again!, December 22, 2005
By Oscar Stern "Dock Oscar" (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews

OK, I'm a big Tosches fan BUT here Nick gets religion and digs deep into the seamy underbelly of country music. Roy Acuff singing dirty songs? The devil in Jerry Lee Lewis? The sacred and profane all wonderfully exposed and written by Nick (the devil himself) Tosches. Great stuff.



3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The most informative ever written on early Country Music, October 16, 2005
By DBH (Canyon Country, CA USA) - See all my reviews
I have bought 6 copies of this books since 1988, for friends and for the two copies I wore out. Before reading this I was already a fan of early Country Music, but this book opened my eyes and ears to a multitude of artists that I wasn't aware of but who had helped shape the direction of Country Music. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that after reading it, I ended up spending a small fortune purchasing LPs, and later CDs, of the obscure artists he makes reference to.



1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A book to be savoured, September 1, 2005
By Lord Rockingham "Pop culture vulture" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Extraordinary. The only way to describe this book. Tosches' astonishingly intricate and challenging look at the arcana and history of this great American art form is incredible. If you're looking for a straight chronology of country music then this ain't it. But it's even more the fascinating for that: a collection of essays and (possibly) fictional pieces on the convoluted road to rock 'n' roll via country, jazz, blues and R&B. Connections are made while words, thoughts, facts tumble onto the page in abandon and Tosches' breadth of knowledge and handling of his material is simply breathtaking.

(THANKS TO MR JYN & DUI CURE KIT BLOG FOR THE REFERRAL)

No comments: