MORE MEMORIES

Emery and Carter prove lightning can strike in the same place twice: Witness this scintillating follow-up to their 1991 megabestseller, Memories. Emery (whose prime-time cable-TV show Nashville Now has 60 million viewers) reprises his humble beginnings in broadcasting at WTPR—a dusk-to-dawn 250-watter in Paris, Tennessee (pop. 5000). After broadcasting farm-to-market news at $45 a week, he began programming a Sunday morning country-music show—until his first fan letter informed him that listening to country on Sunday mornings was like eating green beans for breakfast. Switching to a gospel format featuring live services, Emery would race to the first church and set up a microphone, then speed back to the station to introduce the service. Jumping back into the station's jalopy, he'd rush to set up a mike at the next church while the first preacher was having his half hour on the air. The bulk of the narrative here, though, offers not autobiography but more of Emery's fascinating insider's anecdotes about the foibles of country-music stars; their families; the origins of their songs; and the zany behavior they use to drive away the boredom of working 300 one-nighters on the road each year. One bright episode concerns the silver-screen debut of Mel Tillis—a notorious stutterer but one of the first Nashville singers recruited by Hollywood. Facing the cameras for the first time, Tillis characteristically botched his lines with his stutter. When the furious director castigated him for improvising, the humiliated singer retired to his trailer for some liquid consolation. Meanwhile, the cast and crew convinced the director that Tillis's stutter made the line funny, and Tillis was invited back for another take: Intoxicated, he delivered his lines without hesitation—only the next morning did a sober Tillis finally declaim to perfection, stumbling over every word. Captivating, and likely to capture another top rung on bestseller lists. (For a less satisfied glance at Emery's life, see Skeeter Davis's Bus Fare to Kentucky, reviewed above.) (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-13890-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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