A memoir of a country singer/songwriter’s nearly two-decade career.
After his return from the Korean War in 1954, Flood (Swampwise, 2017, as Okefenokee Joe) embarked on a country music career. He’d found his passion for the genre while in the service, singing and playing steel guitar at an Air Force base in the Philippines with a band called the Luzon Valley Boys. Back home,he teamed up with Army pal Billy Graves to audition for Connie B. Gay’s televised music program, Town and Country Jamboree. Following the advice of singer Jimmy Dean, the author and Graves formed a duo called the Country Lads, and went on to perform widely in the Washington, D.C., area and on Dean’s morning TV show. When the Country Lads parted ways, Flood moved to Nashville with his family to continue his music career. There, he faced the everyday challenges of a working musician. In 1959, Flood’s recording of “The Three Bells” sold well, and in the early 1960s, he was a regular guest on the Grand Ole Opry radio show. His song “Trouble’s Back in Town,” recorded by the Wilburn Brothers in 1962, was named the No. 1 country song of that year by Cashbox magazine. But these early successes didn’t translate to career longevity, and although Flood worked diligently as a touring musician, he eventually sought a life outside the industry, and “reinvented [himself] as ‘Okefenokee Joe,’ a singing, story telling, song writing self-proclaimed wildlife evangelist.” Overall, Flood offers unique insights into the life of a dedicated musician. This isn’t a story of fame and triumph, but of the difficulties of recording contracts, booking schedules, and picking the right projects at the right time. The story’s structure, however, is largely organized around the author’s encounters with famous country stars—ranging from Patsy Cline and Roy Clark to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings—which undercuts the substance of Flood’s narrative. His meetings with these celebrities will be of interest to country fans, but they’re often not interesting enough to merit pride of place, and the resulting scattered focus makes it difficult to chart the chronology of Flood’s career.
A candid but ultimately unsatisfying look at the day-to-day struggles of a working country musician.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)