Music lovers, and particularly those who abhor the fragmentation of the music business, will enjoy this intelligent study....

ARE YOU READY FOR THE COUNTRY

ELVIS, DYLAN, PARSONS AND THE ROOTS OF COUNTRY ROCK

An informative and analytical look at the ongoing dysfunctional relationship between country music and rock ’n’ roll.

Early rock by Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, and virtually every artist at Sun Records had country roots, and there were numerous instances of country tunes becoming pop successes. But the country-music establishment faced a perennial dilemma: should it remain true to its traditional hillbilly roots, or change in order to be more marketable? Movements such as the Nashville Sound, engineered primarily by influential (and recently deceased) guitarist/producer Chet Atkins, created music that satisfied the country market without alienating urban pop listeners. Then a growing country-rock community took shape in the 1960s, and when Bob Dylan issued his Nashville Skyline album and appeared on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969, the hybrid of musical styles entered the American mainstream. The journey of country-rock from Nashville to California, from Texas to Great Britain, is painstakingly and admirably traced by Doggett, former editor of Record Collector magazine, who gives proper credit to such obvious trailblazers as the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, and Gram Parsons, as well as to less heralded musicians like ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith, Chris Hillman, and Gene Clark. Country-rock’s identity crisis has continued for decades. Artists who tried to be progressive were often faced by a backlash, and for every crossover success, there would be rumblings for a counterculture. Doggett’s text is marred somewhat by his tendency to jump from one time period to another in an attempt to acknowledge a trend or movement, but by identifying as many contributors as possible, he demonstrates that “identity is less a matter of what you are than what you are perceived to be.” A list of 100 recommended country-rock albums appears at the end.

Music lovers, and particularly those who abhor the fragmentation of the music business, will enjoy this intelligent study. (20 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2001

ISBN: 0-14-200016-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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