WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN: COUNTRY MUSIC IN AMERICA > Paul Kingsbury & Alanna Nash

Never has there been a country music encyclopedia as visually lavish and likely to induce readers to dip into it again and again just for the looking as this new 360-page treasure-trove.

There have been broad overviews of the country music story from birth to date before, even a pretty good coffee table style one (the Country Music Foundation’s Country: The Music and the Musicians). But never has there been one as visually lavish and likely to induce readers to dip into it again and again just for the looking as this new 360-page treasure-trove.

DK Publishing
[Rating: 4 Stars]

There have been broad overviews of the country music story from birth to date before, even a pretty good coffee table style one (the Country Music Foundation’s Country: The Music and the Musicians). But never has there been one as visually lavish and likely to induce readers to dip into it again and again just for the looking as this new 360-page treasure-trove. The key reason-besides obviously loving art direction, and quality paper that makes the photos and art pop-has been unique access to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s vast artifact collection. Photos of early hillbilly and cowboy bands, of classic Nashville greats, and of today’s stars, of historic record covers and posters, and original Hatch print art are all consistently colorful (literally), to the point, and in most cases, have rarely been seen previously. The writing is of a quality to match-with many of the top writer-researchers on country music contributing appropriate chapters-from Bill C. Malone, the late Charles K. Wolfe and Ronnie Pugh on earlier history, to Jon Weisberger on bluegrass, Colin Escott on the Elvis-and-Nashville Sound years, and Peter Cooper on latter-day events in mainstream country and Americana. Some well-planned, creative use of sidebars leads to surprises to encounter as you dip into the pictorial treasures-thoughts on having been country by Rosanne Cash here, a surprise encyclopedia of Willie Nelson singing partners there, brief profiles of key recordings and players, and light but pointed context-setting time-lines of general cultural and political events. This one’s a keeper.

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