A pleasure for fans of Benson and the band.



Affable, easygoing, sometimes almost-too-mellow memoir by the noted evangelist of Western swing music and driver of Asleep at the Wheel.

“I guess it was inevitable that I’d wind up a slow-moving hippie,” writes Benson—and not just because he was born on a Friday, and Friday’s child, in the old nursery rhyme, is “loving and giving.” Usually, but not always: “Yes, I was an asshole a lot of the time, and I regret a lot of the toes I stepped on, but there were some things I had to do to make it work,” he writes. The “it” was converting a bunch of dope-smoking college buddies from local heroes in Paw Paw, West Virginia, into world-class champions of country music in the Bob Wills tradition—an unlikely transformation for a nice Jewish boy brought up on the British Invasion. Still, Benson recalls, it wasn’t such an unusual choice after all: he loved country music, and among his jazz-loving, radical, longhair pals, there was plenty of appreciation for the thought of country as the music of the people. Fast-forward out of the West Virginia—and, occasionally, Washington, D.C.—music scene, and Benson has transported his merry band to Texas, where the Wills sound began, and into a (mostly) benevolent dictatorship to get the sound he wants. The usual suspects are there, of course: Willie with his doober, Johnny Paycheck with his growl, Bill Clinton with his—well, his chicken plucking. And the usual tropes are there, for though it ain’t rock ’n’ roll, there was plenty of sex and drugs in Benson’s corner of the country. “I’m not sure anybody is ever in control of their cocaine habit,” he writes with a certain quiet pride, “but I was probably as close as you can get.” Spinning through jazz, blues, country, and rock, giving boosts to the likes of George Strait and Lyle Lovett, the author genially recounts a merry and generally mayhem-free life in music.

A pleasure for fans of Benson and the band.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-292-75658-8

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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