|Peter Doggett: Are You Ready for the Country|
USA (Paper), ISBN 0142000167
Gram Parsons (former Byrd, former Flying Burrito Brother and International Submarine Band member) plays Moses and blind Cassandra to several anti-Christs -- including the Eagles -- and an indifferent public. Chet Atkins serves as both Pilate and St. Peter. The late Eagles of the 1990s play the Wandering Jews, cluelessly watering down country songs at 125 bucks a pop, bleaching away all their dirty working class origins.
Nevertheless, the potential audience for this book could go beyond true believers to intellectually curious souls with strong notions that country music consists of more than Shania, Faith, Trisha and Garth. Are You Ready For The Country baptizes readers in the contributions of not only the heavy hitters mentioned on the front cover (Elvis, Dylan and Parsons). Like at any good resurrection, ghosts of remembered and forgotten legends line the edges.
Not just for newbies to the irregular side of the country tracks, Are You Ready for the Country ladles its country writ with generous anecdotes and quotes and insightful analyses that sew up threads connecting influential songs and artists.
Like most works by passionate advocates, the book comes replete with passages of praise and condemnation -- the most heated of which Doggett reserves for Chet Atkins. Doggett extols Atkins' work on guitar but excoriates the business acumen which provided the first step in the Nashville bleaching process (if you believe the book). Extensive debate continues on Atkins' degree of involvement in the process. So I doubt Doggett's will be the last word on the subject -- at least not among the other eight members of the general public and the 45 independent record store clerks not yet swallowed up by AcmeMart who actually know about Chet Atkins. But you can't dismiss the color, the force and the lucidity of Doggett's thinking.
Playing to his strengths, Doggett spends much time dissecting the sounds of the tunes and albums in order to identify influences -- very genealogical, extensive and vividly recorded. While the book repeats alt. country cant (which given Doggett's long history as editor and interviewer, he might have birthed or midwifed), you cannot deny Doggett's deep knowledge and passion.
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