OUTLAW by Michael Streissguth
Kirkus Star


Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville
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An exposé of Nashville’s revolutionary musical period in the late 1960s, when it was overtaken by the renegades of song.

Told through the lens of three of the most genre-defying voices to hit country music since its inception—Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson—author and documentary producer Streissguth (Communications and Film Studies/Le Moyne Coll.; Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, and the Spirit of Southern Music, 2010, etc.) delivers an intense account of Nashville’s musical evolution, when artists, particularly Jennings, Nelson, Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, increasingly became “servants of the songs, who chased the music the way it sounded in their heads.” The author educates fans and insiders by delving into the disarming reality of these notorious superstars, delivering anecdotes of performances, drugs and misfortune. At times, the exhausting ego-driven accounts of the musicians’ careers can be a tad much, but they do not undermine Streissguth’s well-orchestrated narrative. Perhaps the most critical truth is the fact that although these men were brilliant, they had to work constantly and consistently to make it in Nashville. “Kris recalls artists who had big hits with his songs urging him to quit Hollywood,” writes the author. “The implication, of course, was that his well had run dry.…‘It was as if I was spending so much creative energy on the wrong thing, performing and movies, that my songwriting was suffering.’ ” However painful their careers might have been at this time, the impact they still hold within the industry is awe-inspiring.

A biting, in-depth chronicle of Nashville’s most tumultuous era told through the voices of iconic artists who used their music to accomplish significant changes in the music industry.

Pub Date: June 4th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-203818-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2013


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