Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes,

Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes,

by Bruce Feiler
3.6 5

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Feiler's book is ostensibly a portrait of three modern country artists, Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd and Wade Hayes. And though he provides interesting portraiture of all three, what he really documents - using the three artists as vehicles - is the changing business of the country music industry, and by association, the broader changes wrought by and to American media and culture. It's a well-written volume, with some illuminating conclusions, fleshed out by first-hand observations the author made in and around Nashville. ¶ Much has been made of Feiler's veracity, but, to a large degree, his larger theses are independent of the specifics. Brooks and Judd have each taken their digs at Feiler (the latter being more surprising, since Feiler's portrait of Judd is, ultimately, quite flattering), so one might take his biography of their lives with a grain of salt. Even so, his conclusions about Nashville's changing face, both musically and operationally, are usually spot-on. ¶ The Cliff's Notes rendition of Feiler's work focuses on his portraiture of the three principals: Garth Brooks as an obsessive careerist who only finds joy during his time on stage, Wynonna Judd as the screwed-up (but ultimately triumphant) result of a screwed-up childhood brought upon her by the most heinous of mothers, and Wade Hayes as the naïf, making his way through a hurricane of market forces. By threading these three stories with history of Nashville's business, the reader sees how the threads of art and commerce have intertwined over the years, with commerce realizing a substantial choke-hold on artistry in the '90s. ¶ Of particular interest is Feiler's description of the symbiosis between artists, labels and radio. The manipulations of hit single charts, the conniving for chart position (and the lurid world of not-exactly-payola that fuels it), the trading of accurate charts for those that can be "influenced" is eye-opening for those outside the industry. Feiler's discussion about various trends in country music, the rise of women signaled, in part, by the Judd's supremacy, the displacement of Wynonna by the sex-appeal of Shania, and the replacement of earlier artists by a new wave, are all very compelling. ¶ The book is weighted towards reporting on Garth Brooks, which isn't necessarily a negative, since his is the most complex portrait, and Feiler finds his greatest insights in Brooks' rise and plateau. On the negative side, parts of this book were previously published as magazine articles, and there is some unnecessary repetition. The careful reader will wonder whether Feiler's editor actually read the entire book through. ¶ Feiler is a fine writer, and has provided a unique portrait of Nashville through the peak of its '90s supremacy. Whether or not you believe the details he reports on his principal subjects, there's a deep ring of truth in his analyses. ¶ 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.