Now that you’ve plowed through all those country music books you got for Christmas, it’s time to look ahead to the big spring and summer titles. Elvis, who would have been 70 this year, remains a hot topic for authors. Additionally, there’s another insider account coming on Johnny Cash, and musical maverick Billy Joe Shaver is rolling out his autobiography.
So, starting with the King, there’s: Elvis by the Presleys from Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley (Crown, May), Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis’s No. 1 Hits by Ace Collins (Chicago Review Press, April) and, most tangentially, Graceland’s Table: Recipes and Meal Memories Fit for the King of Rock and Roll by Ellen Rolfes With Elvis Presley Enterprises (Rutledge Hill, August).
Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Monroe is in the spotlight in Come Hither to Go Yonder: Playing Bluegrass With Bill Monroe by Bob Black (University of Illinois, July). Black picked banjo in Monroe’s band during the 1970s.
Hugh Waddell, who worked in various capacities for Cash — from publicist to porter — recalls his famous boss in I Still Miss Someone (Cumberland House, March). Last year, Shaver was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame for having penned such durable ditties as “I’m Just an Old Chuck Of Coal” and “Georgia on a Fast Train.” He opens the curtain on his colorful life in Honky Tonk Hero (University of Texas, March).
Maxine Brown, a member of the musical trio the Browns and the older sister of Grand Ole Opry star Jim Ed Brown, tells the story of a family act and the dawn of rock ’n’ roll in Looking Back to See: A Country Music Memoir (University of Arkansas, March). The Browns are best known for their 1959 crossover hit, “The Three Bells.”
In the self-help category comes 100 Ways to Beat the Blues: An Uplifting Book for Anyone Who’s Down by Tanya Tucker and Friends (Fireside, March). Canadian singer Michelle Wright takes us on the road and onto the stage with A Year in the Life of Michelle Wright (Insomniac Press, June). Wright recorded for Arista Nashville through the 1990s and had such hits as “Take It Like a Man” and “He Would Be Sixteen.”
Western movie and music fans can look forward to King of the Cowboys, Queen of the West: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans by Raymond E. Wise (University of Wisconsin, June). Then there’s The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley and the Beginning of Superstardom in America by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, June). This last title isn’t about music, but it is about the spectacle that’s become a part of live music.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy brandishes fork and spatula in The Redneck Grill: The Most Fun You Can Have With Fire, Charcoal and a Dead Animal (Rutledge Hill, March).
Finally, we have a slew of books about rock ’n’ rollers, all of whom have influenced today’s country singers and songwriters. They include: Magical Mystery Tour: My Life With the Beatles by Tony Bramwell with Rosemary Kingsland (St. Martin’s/Dunne, April); Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out of Time, 1996 and Beyond by Paul Williams (Omnibus, March); Neil Young and the Poetics of Energy by William Echard (Indiana University, July); Billy Joel: The Life & Times of an Angry Young Man by Hank Bordowitz (Billboard Books, July) and Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now by Mark Bego (Taylor, June).
Now all you need is a beach.