Synopses & Reviews
Waylon Jennings. Willie Nelson. Kris Kristofferson. Three renegade musicians. Three unexpected stars. Three men who changed Nashville and country music forever.
By the late 1960s, Nashville, Tennessee, was firmly established as the center of the booming country music industry and home to what was known as the Nashville Sound, characterized by slick production and adherence to an increasingly overused formula. But the city was changing. Young people from all over the country were streaming into the bohemian West End and colliding with three trailblazing artists who would soon rock the foundations of Nashville's music business.
Surrounded by the street vibes of the West End's burgeoning underground scene and the outlaw protest tradition of Nashville's unlikely civil rights leaders and antiwar protestors, Waylon, Willie, and Kris began resisting the unspoken rules of Nashville's music-making machine and instead forged their own creative paths. Their music, personal and not easily categorized, was more in the vein of rock acts like the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan, and it communi-cated a stark rawness and honesty that would influence artists of all genres for decades to come.
Studded with a diverse secondary cast including Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Kinky Friedman, Billy Joe Shaver, and others, Streissguth's new book brings to life an incredible chapter in musical history and reveals for the first time a surprising outlaw zeitgeist in Nashville. Based on extensive research and probing interviews with key players, what emerges is a fascinating glimpse into three of the most legendary artists of our times and the definitive story of how they changed music in Nashville and everywhere.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A biting, in-depth chronicle of Nashvilles most tumultuous era told through the voices of iconic artists who used their music to accomplish significant changes in the music industry.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Riveting Wall Street Journal
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. USA Today
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. Wall Street Journal
Outlaw is an entertaining, authoritative account of Nashvilles rebel years. popmatters.com
“Compulsively readable...” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Streissguth goes widescreen with this look at the social and musical ferment that produced the Seventies outlaw-country movement… [he] skillfully portrays Sixties Nashvilles studio politics and their gradual loosening up, alongside a city where post-Sixties social change took its time arriving. Rolling Stone
by acclaimed author Michael Streissguth follows the stories of three legends as they redefined country music: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
Streissguth delves into the country music scene in the late '60s and early '70s, when these rebels found themselves in Music City writing songs and vying for record deals. Channeling the unrest of the times, all three Country Music Hall of Famers resisted the music industrys unwritten rules and emerged as leaders of the outlaw movement that ultimately changed the recording industry.
Outlaw offers a broad portrait of the outlaw movement in Nashville that includes a diverse secondary cast of characters, such as Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Kinky Friedman, and Billy Joe Shaver, among others.
With archival photographs throughout, Outlaw is a comprehensive examination of a fascinating shift in country music, and the three unbelievably talented musicians who forged the way.
About the Author
Michael Streissguth is the author of eight books, including Johnny Cash: The Biography. A professor in the Department of Communication and Film Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, he has written for Mojo, the Journal of Country Music, Bluegrass Unlimited, and many other publications. He has written and produced two documentary films, Record Paradise and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. He lives in Syracuse with his wife and family.