In February 1976, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser and the Glaser Brothers released Wanted: The Outlaws!, building upon their respective growing statures in the world of country music. Wanted! became the first country album to sell a million copies. In this compulsively readable book, music historian Streissguth describes the contrast between the staid Nashville music scene of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and the dynamic new music filtering into the city from Los Angeles (Emmylou Harris), Texas (Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings), and South Carolina (Marshall Chapman). One by one, he introduces readers to the change-makers. Kris Kristofferson was a Texas boy who arrived fresh out of the service looking to score big as a songwriter, working many odd jobs until Johnny Cash took him under his wing and provided Kristofferson with the stability he needed to write. Jennings was devastated by Buddy Holly’s death (Jennings was a member of Holly’s band) and made his way to Nashville to work with RCA and Chet Atkins as his career developed. Nelson came to Nashville from Texas in 1960, but then turned around and went back, eventually meeting up with Jennings and others to infuse fresh spirit into country music. Streissguth uses this one group of musicians not only to capture the essence of Nashville in the 1970s, but to portray the social and cultural forces—the Vietnam War protests, the clash of Old South and New South, the Civil Rights movement—that led to tremendous changes in the country music industry at the time. Agent: James Fitzgerald, James Fitzgerald Agency. (June)
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a group of musicians including Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Tompall Glaser appeared in Nashville, ushering in a fresh musical sensibility that combined rock and folk with the rollicking rhythms of the Texas music of Doug Sahm. In 1976, Jennings, Nelson, Colter, and Glaser released the now-iconic Wanted: The Outlaws!, which became the first country album to sell a million copies. Streissguth's (Johnny Cash: The Biography) captivating tale of these artists, the ways in which they challenged the Nashville establishment of the time, and their sudden rise to fame provides a glimpse into a time when the country music industry, as well as Nashville itself, was struggling to find its identity. The remarkable moral of the story is that for a brief, and considerably memorable, moment, outsiders succeeded in finding a (sometimes uneasy) home in the Nashville scene in ways that artists have trouble doing today. VERDICT Although die-hard country music fans know the details of the stories that Streissguth tells, his book nevertheless opens a window on a Nashville that struggled to adapt to the times and the musicians who led it into a new era.—Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL
An exposé of Nashville's revolutionary musical period in the late 1960s, when it was overtaken by the renegades of song. Told through the lens of three of the most genre-defying voices to hit country music since its inception--Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson--author and documentary producer Streissguth (Communications and Film Studies/Le Moyne Coll.; Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, and the Spirit of Southern Music, 2010, etc.) delivers an intense account of Nashville's musical evolution, when artists, particularly Jennings, Nelson, Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, increasingly became "servants of the songs, who chased the music the way it sounded in their heads." The author educates fans and insiders by delving into the disarming reality of these notorious superstars, delivering anecdotes of performances, drugs and misfortune. At times, the exhausting ego-driven accounts of the musicians' careers can be a tad much, but they do not undermine Streissguth's well-orchestrated narrative. Perhaps the most critical truth is the fact that although these men were brilliant, they had to work constantly and consistently to make it in Nashville. "Kris recalls artists who had big hits with his songs urging him to quit Hollywood," writes the author. "The implication, of course, was that his well had run dry.…‘It was as if I was spending so much creative energy on the wrong thing, performing and movies, that my songwriting was suffering.' " However painful their careers might have been at this time, the impact they still hold within the industry is awe-inspiring. A biting, in-depth chronicle of Nashville's most tumultuous era told through the voices of iconic artists who used their music to accomplish significant changes in the music industry.
A riveting look at how how three Texans joined forces to liberate Nashville from its company-town ways in the 1970s. It is a small group portrait, tightly focused and well told by Michael Streissguth.
Offers a look at the how the ‘outlaw’ music of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson shook up Nashville in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. . . . Author Streissguth has country music bona fides: He also wrote Johnny Cash: The Biography.
Outlaw is an entertaining, authoritative account of Nashville’s rebel years.
Streissguth goes widescreen with this look at the social and musical ferment that produced the Seventies outlaw-country movement… [he] skillfully portrays Sixties Nashville’s studio politics and their gradual loosening up, alongside a city where post-Sixties social change took its time arriving.