OFFSTAGE: Cash, Haggard, Lynn and Jewel Revelations in Neil Strauss Book

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

You will hate Neil Strauss by the end of the first paragraph. Because his new book, Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, is all about the best moments from the countless celebrity interviews he’s done over the years covering music for The New York Times and Rolling Stone. So in that little intro, he says he has made Lady Gaga cry, flown in a helicopter with Madonna, been told off by Prince and more. Anyone with a job that cool elicits jealousy from even the sanest people. But as he points out in this 544-page look inside superstars’ minds, sometimes the fascinating stuff is the truths you never put in the story. This book is full of those truths. Like from Johnny Cash’s observation about God and drugs: “Every time I bottomed out, I realized how far away from God I’d been.” And from Jewel, the night he stayed at her house and she told him about the mothers she knew growing up: “Where I was raised, it was like women should have hips and breasts. And they were naturally vital and they built their own houses and they milked their own cows.” Loretta Lynn is in the book, too, talking about how you have to sing what’s real: “When love and honky-tonks and the Bible go out of style, it’s over.” Even Merle Haggard plays a part, talking about why he never lies: “It’s kind of like gravity. The first time I lied to somebody, I couldn’t live with it for 10 minutes. I had to straighten that out.” It’s a must-read for anyone who likes to hear what goes on behind the scenes of behind-the-scenes interviews.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.