Marty Stuart’s Photo Book of Country Music Elites Tops Latest Music Books

Alabama's Randy Owen Releases His Life Story

There’s a wealth of books for country fans in stores this holiday season on subjects ranging from Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music, to Miley Cyrus, presumably the format’s great-granddaughter. And there are plenty of general interest music titles as well, according to Publishers Weekly.

Among the most impressive works is Marty Stuart’s lovingly collected and poetically remembered gallery of artist photographs, most of them candid shots and many of which he took himself, beginning with his days as a 13-year-old mandolin player for Lester Flatt. Thick enough to last through a long winter and accompanied by a CD (with a music video), the book is called Country Music: The Masters (Sourcebooks). It truly is masterful. The cover photo of Johnny Cash, which Stuart took just before Cash died, is like a glimpse of Mount Rushmore.

Veteran Nashville journalist Robert K. Oermann went to great lengths to shine the spotlight on country legends — past and present in — Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain (Hachette Book Group). The profiles include detailed stories about pioneers such as Patsy Cline and Minnie Pearl, living icons including George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton and contemporary stars such as Martina McBride and Trace Adkins.

Randy Owen, Alabama’s lead singer, takes fans inside the workings of the supergroup with his Born Country: My Life in Alabama — How Faith, Family and Music Brought Me Home (Harperone). Fans of historic country music radio shows can travel memory lane with Chad Berry’s The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance (University of Illinois Press).

Also in the country chute: Waiting for a Train: Jimmie Rodgers’s America, edited by Mary E. Davis and Warren Zanes (Rounder Books); Adam Victor’s The Elvis Encyclopedia (Overlook Press); and Sybil Rosen’s Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley, a study of and tribute to the Texas singer and songwriter who wrote Merle Haggard’s “If I Could Only Fly” (University of North Texas Press). Tom Moon’s 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (Workman) includes a section of country picks.

In the more contemporary realm, Hannah Montana’s star is represented in two new titles — Brittany Kent’s Miley Cyrus: This Is Her Life (Berkley) and Susan Janic’s Living the Dream: Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: The Unofficial Story (ECW Press).

Here are other current and impending music titles:

Robb Lawrence’s The Modern Era of the Les Paul Legacy: 1968-2008 (Hal Leonard Books); David Martin’s Mixing the Hits: Country, with two DVD-ROMs (Hal Leonard Books); Janis Ian’s Society’s Child: My Autobiography (Tarcher); Jeff Kaliss’ I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly and the Family Stone (Backbeat Books); Marshall Mathers’ Eminem: The Way I Am (Dutton); Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life (Ecco).

Holly George-Warren’s The Grateful Dead 365 (Abrams); Bob Carruthers’ Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day: The Inside Story (Angry Penguin); Jon Bream’s Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time (Voyageur Press); Michael Heatley’s Where Were You When … the Music Played? (Reader’s Digest Books); Alan Govenar’s Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound (Texas A&M University Press).

The Oxford American Book of Great Music Writing, edited by Mark Smirnoff (University of Arkansas Press); Jake Brown’s Black Eyed Peas … an Unauthorized Biography (Colossus Books); Gary Steckles’ Bob Marley: A Life (Interlink); Alan Parker’s Sid Vicious: No One Is Innocent (Orion); Ray Lowry and Ben Myers’ The Clash (Angry Penguin).

Noel Hudson’s The Band Name Book (Boston Mills Press); Scott Plagenhoef and Ryan Schrieber’s The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs From Punk to the Present (Fireside); Bobby Owsinski’s How to Make Your Band Sound Great with DVD (Hal Leonard Books).

Kimberly Bright’s The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss: The Untold Story of X (Santa Monica Press); Ani DiFranco: The Complete Lyrics (Seven Stories Press); Ralph Gibson’s State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words (Yale University Press).

Sarah Caldwell’s Challenges: A Memoir of My Life in Opera, written with Rebecca Matlock (Wesleyan University Press) and Joseph Polisi’s American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman (Amadeus Press).

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