by Bruce Feiler ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 8, 1998
A cleverly constructed look at how the country-music industry has changed some of its most important artists and how they have changed the industry. Feiler (Under the Big Top, 1995, etc.) covers the full range of the Nashville scene from the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Association Awards to issues such as racism and greed. Having separated the industry into parts, he uses three particularly influential entertainers--Garth Brooks, Wade Hayes, and Wynonna Judd--to show how recording artists affect, and in turn are affected by, some of the most significant aspects of the business. For instance, the importance of album cover photography is demonstrated through the experiences of the shy newcomer Hayes, who feels uncomfortable with both the posing process and with his sex-symbol status. When Feiler looks at concerts, he uses Brooks as his lens, showing a performer who, despite his enormous popularity, is fearful that his career could end at any moment. And inevitably, when Feiler addresses the subject of family, his focus turns to Wynonna, whose mother, Naomi, tried even in retirement to run every aspect of her daughter's career and life. Feiler also writes about other artists and Nashville personalities--particularly those who have had a strong impact on the development of the music and the industry. There are sections on the death of Minnie Pearl and how the entire city turned out for her funeral, as well as portraits of such influential figures as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and of the gossip columnist Hazel Smith. Feiler pays a little too much attention to Brooks and not quite enough to Wynonna. Still, this is a charming read that will humanize Nashville and some of its most visible and influential inhabitants.
Pub Date: April 8, 1998
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998
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