Country

Overview

Celebrating the dark origins of our most American music, Country reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven; medieval myth and musical miscegenation; sex, drugs, murder; and rays of fierce illumination on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others, famous and forgotten, whose demonology is America's own. Profusely and superbly illustrated, Country stands as one of the most brilliant explorations of American musical culture ever ...

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Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock 'n' Roll

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Overview

Celebrating the dark origins of our most American music, Country reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven; medieval myth and musical miscegenation; sex, drugs, murder; and rays of fierce illumination on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others, famous and forgotten, whose demonology is America's own. Profusely and superbly illustrated, Country stands as one of the most brilliant explorations of American musical culture ever written.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306807138
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 1,237,535
  • Product dimensions: 0.69 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Tosches

Nick Tosches is the author of Hellfire, Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll, Power on Earth, Cut Numbers, Dino, and Trinities.

Biography

A highly praised author who seems to base his choice of subjects not so much on eminence as conflicted greatness, Nick Tosches is the best example of a good rock journalist who set out to transcend his genre and succeeded. Having begun in music mags Creem and Fusion in the 1970s, the author’s career took a large turn upward with the publication of Hellfire, his biography of rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis. It didn’t hurt that Rolling Stone anointed it “the best rock n’ roll biography ever written.”

A few years later, Tosches departed from the rock milieu but maintained his attraction to subjects of undeniable power and questionable – if not downright criminal – character. He chronicled the life and times of Sicilian financier Michele Sindona in the now out of print Power on Earth, then scored another biographical home run with his authoritative Dino, about Rat Pack entertainer Dean Martin.

None of these subjects was begging to be written about; nor was the boxer Tosches compellingly depicted in The Devil and Sonny Liston, the blackface minstrel introduced in Where Dead Voices Gather, or the focus of The Last Opium Den. This is where the author’s talent nests: First in his ability to unearth topics that represent history’s alleyways; and second in the courageous, authentic prose he uses to describe them, including liberal doses of ten-dollar-words and allusions to his own role in the story.

Tosches doesn’t get caught up so much in an individual; he works to create an aura. “The lives in [my biographies] are as much about the forces at work beneath, beyond, and around,” he said in a 1999 interview with Salon. “The Liston book, to a great extent, is about those forces more than it's about Sonny himself. I mean, Sonny's life is there in full, but there are other characters and other forces directly relating to various underworlds.” Tosches will take you to his subject eventually; but he might show you through a few detours first. For example, his search in The Last Opium Den begins, “You see, I needed to go to hell I was, you might say, homesick. But first, by way of explanation, the onion.”

Tosches’ fiction work has existed under the shadow of his biographies, something the author wants to change with the ambitious, portentously promoted 2002 release In the Hand of Dante. His first novel about a Mafia scheme to fix the New York lottery, Cut Numbers, was generally well received but largely forgotten; Trinities, “a battle for evil,” was a New York Times Notable Book of 1994 but is now out of print in the States. In the Hand of Dante is a self-referential, layered story that twists the discovery of a 14th-century manuscript into a modern-day thriller also containing Alighieri himself as a character. Whether In the Hand of Dante will be, as its publisher predicts, “the most ragingly debated novel of the decade,” like the rest of Tosches’ work, it has drawn respect and attention.

Good To Know

In the 1970s, Tosches was a hunter of poisonous snakes for the Miami Serpentarium. He was also a paste-up artist for the Lovable Underwear Company.

Tosches has written a screenplay, Spud Crazy; planned adaptations of Dino (by Martin Scorsese) and The Devil and Sonny Liston (with Ving Rhames in the lead) have been reported but disappeared. Tosches told Salon in 1999, "The people in Hollywood that clean out the urinals know more about the movie status of my books than I do." In 2002, FOXNews.com reported that veteran producer Robert Evans planned to make a film based on Tosches’s Vanity Fair article “The Devil and Sidney Korshak,” about “connected” Chicago lawyer. Tosches was slated to write the screenplay.

Tosches, who was not big on higher education, was “schooled in his father’s bar,” according to his publisher’s bio. He spent his teenage years as a porter at Tosches family’s Jersey City joint.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newark, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      High school

Table of Contents

Preface to the Da Capo Edition
Preface to the Revised Edition
Thela in the New World 1
Orpheus, Gypsies, and Redneck Rock 'n' Roll 4
The Girl Singer 22
Loud Covenants 25
Emmett Miller, 1 102
Yodeling Cowboys and Such 109
Emmett Miller, 2 118
Stained Panties and Coarse Metaphors 120
West Virginia Hills Are in the Bronx, Says Barn Barnum 157
You're Going To Watch Me Kill Her 158
Cowboys and Niggers 162
Yeah, But They Break if You Sit On Them 218
Northeast Mississippi, 1953 237
Appendix Emmett Miller, 3 239
Index 269
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