Coming Soon: Books on Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Les Paul

Also New Titles on Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Dean, Roy Rogers

Country music fans will find lots of fascinating new titles in bookstores this fall –whether their interests lie in Johnny Cash, “Big Bad John” or various pop and rock stars who’ve dabbled in the country format.

A year after his death, Cash remains a hot topic, as indicated by Steve Turner’s The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend (due out in Sept. 13 from W Publishing), Hugh Waddell’s I Still Miss Someone: Friends and Family Remember Johnny Cash (September, Cumberland House) and Michael Streissguth’s Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (September, De Capo Press). National Public Radio’s Terry Gross has released a collection of interviews from her Fresh Air show called All I Did Was Ask: Conversations With Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists (September, Hyperion). One of those “conversations” is with the omnipresent Cash.

Cash’s buddy, Bob Dylan, is the subject of two studies: Paul Williams’ Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out of Time, 1996 and Beyond (October, Omnibus Press) and Oliver Trager’s Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (October, Billboard Books). Dylan’s country connections extend from recording his Blonde on Blonde album in Nashville in 1966 to appearing on Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Country in 1998.

The late Ray Charles, who greatly enhanced country music’s presence in 1962 with his two-volume Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, is memorialized in Ray: A Tribute to the Movie, the Music and the Man (November, Newmarket Press). The book focuses on the upcoming movie about Charles’ life that stars Jamie Foxx.

John Sforza’s Swing It! The Andrews Sisters Story (October, University Press of Kentucky) chronicles the pop trio that first became famous during World War II. In 1944, they teamed up with Bing Crosby to score the No. 1 country smash, “Pistol Packin’ Mama.” Then, in 1949, they joined with Decca labelmate Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours to turn out two more high-charting hits, “I’m Bitin’ My Fingernails and Thinking Of You” and “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle.”

Todd Slaughter’s The Elvis Archives (Jan., Omnibus Press) promises “more than 100 rare and exclusive color photos” of the icon elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

Jimmy Dean, who bestowed on the world “Big Bad John” (1961) and an infinite variety of ground pork, tells his life story in Thirty Years of Sausage … Fifty Years of Ham (October, Berkley). Dean co-wrote the book with his wife, Donna Meade Dean.

Robb Lawrence’s The Les Paul Legacy: The Man, the Sound and the Gibson Guitar details the impact Paul has had on four generations of guitar players. Paul’s 1976 album of guitar duets with Chet Atkins — Chester & Lester — won a Grammy for best country instrumental performance.

Cowboy crooner Roy Rogers comes riding back in Howard Kazanjian and Chris Ems’ Happy Trails: A Pictorial Celebration of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (October, Falcon Publishing). Twice inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (first as a member of Sons of the Pioneers), Rogers roamed the country charts from 1946 (starting with “A Little White Cross on the Hill”) until 1991 (with “Hold on Partner,” a duet with Clint Black). Rogers died in 1998.

White Christmas (September, Rutledge Hill) is a close-up of Irving Berlin’s holiday classic. A companion CD contains versions of the song by Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Vince Gill.

Jeff Foxworthy returns to his bread-and-butter theme with You Might Be a Redneck If …This Is the Biggest Book You’ve Ever Read (September, Rutledge Hill).

Finally, fans can match tastes with critics via Nathan Brackett’s The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, Completely Revised and Updated (October, S&S/Fireside). This is the fourth edition of the popular guide and the first in 14 years.

The books listed here were announced in a recent issue of Publishers Weekly.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to