Monday, February 17, 2014

Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn

Johnny Cash: The Life
Robert Hilburn
Little, Brown and Company, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-316-19475-4
Hardcover, 680 pages

From touring with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and June carter to his final days and perhaps the best song he ever recorded, Johnny Cash lived his life and managed his singing career on his own terms. This is the one thing Robert Hilburn makes abundantly clear in his exhaustive commentary regarding the career of Johnny Cash, a career that spanned 5 decades (1954-2003). It didn't matter if the record was bad because Cash was wired on drugs or if it was a gospel record when his fans wanted more country or if he was recording punk rock in an effort to connect with the youth of today, Cash always had an album concept he was working on—the record label be damned. He was the original outlaw for both country and rock and roll, and unknown by most people, he never really gave up those titles. Cash was simply overshadowed  during the latter part of the 70's and most of the 80's. But he never stopped touring and he never stopped making records.

"From his early days as a pioneer of rockabilly and rock and roll in the 1950s, to his decades as an international representative of country music, to his resurgence to fame in the 1990s as a living legend and an alternative country icon, Cash influenced countless artists and left a large body of work. Upon his death, Cash was revered by the greatest popular musicians of his time. His rebellious image and often anti-authoritarian stance [even] influenced punk rock."                 - Wikipedia -

Sources disagree, but to the best of my knowledge Johnny cash recorded: 55 studio albums, 104 compilations, 6 live albums, 2 soundtracks and 153 singles. With the constant touring this man did, the number of songs he wrote and the number of songs he recorded is mind-blowing.

I can't say this with more passion. If you have ever wanted to know about the life of a rock or country music star, why not study the greatest of them all: Johnny Cash: The Life  by Robert Hilburn.

Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye

For more of Clayton Bye's writing, visit his website or become a fan.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Dysfictional by Mandy White

After a few misfires, the stories in Mandy White's 2012 offering, Dysfictional, are interesting, unique and well edited. I especially enjoyed The Art of Bathing, Zombie Cuisine and her novella, The Immigrant.

This collection is a solid, 4 star effort by an imaginative author. My one criticism is that the author sometimes gives away the story. She definitely has the ability to carry the reader to places of the imagination, but she must be cautious not to allow the reader to envision the ending before she takes us there: Ruby in the Mist and A Simple Life are examples.

Summary? The first two stories in the collection could easily cost White her reader. This is unfortunate,  as the rest of the stories come in at 4 or even 5 stars. So, if the title catches your attention (as it did mine), then I say go for it--buy the book. Just know that the collection is much better than the initial stories suggest.

Clayton Bye
author, editor, publisher

For more of Clayton Bye's writing, visit his website or become a fan.