My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: John Steinbeck

Album Review – Rodney Crowell – ‘The Houston Kid’

Starting in 2001, Rodney Crowell began taking a different approach to his music by recording a series of albums designed to build his legacy as a recording artist. These projects, starting with The Houston Kid on Sugar Hill Records, are among the most acclaimed of his career. Produced by Peter Coleman The Houston Kid proved a moderate success, peaking at #32 on the country albums chart and #19 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart.

The album was preceded by a collaboration with Johnny Cash entitled “Walk The Line (Revisited),” which peaked at #61. A brilliantly executed fusion (Brad Paisley take note), it pairs Crowell’s distinct memories of first hearing the Cash classic with snippets of the original tune itself.

Crowell’s exceptional Steinbeck-like lyric places the listener as an unforeseen passenger listening to the radio along with him. In turn, a personal memory becomes universal:

I got my thrill behind the wheel upon my daddy’s lap

Grandpa rode co-pilot with a flashlight and a map

Cane pole out the window it was in the summertime

First time I heard Johnny Cash, Sing I Walk The Line

“Walk The Line” is a testament to Crowell’s otherworldly talents as a lyricist, the driving force behind the material on The Houston Kid. Clever turns of phrase and striking imagery abound throughout the eleven-song album and place the listener on a very enjoyable and autobiographical musical journey.

The self-penned “Topsy Turvy,” the story of his parent’s abusive relationship, told through the eyes of his childhood memories, exemplifies this perfectly:

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Book Review: ‘Buck Owens – The Biography’ by Eileen Sisk

The following review was written by MKOC reader and commenter Ken Johnson:

Buck Owens – The Biography

Author: Eileen Sisk
Publisher: Chicago Review Press

If you only know about Buck Owens via his amazing catalog of hit recordings and songs or his hayseed “Hee-Haw” persona, you truly don’t know the REAL Buck Owens. Author Eileen Sisk went behind the public facade to reveal a complicated, difficult, contradictory, vindictive, manipulative yet occasionally generous man who knew how to completely control his image long before publicists became a required member of every country performer’s staff. Singer/songwriter Gene Price perhaps summed up the Buck Owens story best when he told Sisk that she was about to “write a book about a very bad man who made very good music. “

Sisk relates how she began writing her book with Buck’s blessing after a face-to-face meeting at his Bakersfield, California headquarters in early 1997. Concerned that focusing primarily on his music would make for a boring read, Buck desired an entertaining book that would concentrate on his unpredictable and occasionally sensational personal life. True to form, three years later permission to write his story was abruptly withdrawn without warning or explanation. Rather than abandon the three years that she had already invested in the project, Sisk decided to label her work as an “unauthorized” biography. She enlisted the assistance of a former member of Buck’s “Buckaroos” band Doyle Holly who acted as her liaison to former Owens’ subordinates and encouraged them to go on the record and be forthcoming with their memories.  Because Holly was quoted “everything with Buck is fifty percent bullshit and fifty percent truth” the resulting story is probably closer to reality than if Buck had fully participated and exercised complete editorial control.

Born just two months before the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression, Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens entered the world in Sherman, Texas on August 12, 1929. The book details how despite two birth defects and serious childhood illnesses including a serious brain infection, Buck persevered. By his early teens he had become proficient on several musical instruments. Buck loved to tell about dropping out of school to help his poor struggling family and often compared his own story to the Steinbeck classic The Grapes Of Wrath. However it was the first of many fabricated tales that Buck would create throughout his career. Despite the hard times, his father was always able to find work to fully support his family. Though life may have been difficult it was far from the dire situation that many other depression-era families faced.

Young Buck found plenty of time for female companionship, an activity that would continue in excess throughout his lifetime. Contrary to what Buck wanted his fans to believe, Bonnie Owens was not his first wife. Sisk uncovered Buck’s first marriage at the age of sixteen that produced a daughter that he never knew. Buck would sire at least eight more children, both in and out of wedlock, but only publicly acknowledged three of them.

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Classic Rewind: Kris Kristofferson – ‘Here Comes That Rainbow Again’

Inspired by a scene in The Grapes Of Wrath: