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Are You Ready for the Country? Paperback – 26 Apr 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140261087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140261080
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Peter Doggett was born in 1957. He has been writing about music for 20 years, has interviewed hundreds of rock and country stars in Britain and America and was the editor of Record Collector magazine from 1982 to 1999. Introduced to country by the late 60s recordings of Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons, he has become a passionate champion of all forms of the music, from bluegrass to alt.country.

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First Sentence
An anonymous trail of motels, malls and drive-away auto lots leads out of Nashville towards the lake, which is flanked by forests and marshland crawling with copperheads. Read the first page
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph V. Zizza on 4 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interestingly structured and well-researched tome about country rock and its origins, this is a fascinating read but is somewhat undermined by oversimplification. Doggett, in common with many critics, over-emphasises Gram Parsons' role in the sub-genre's origins, and underplays important innovators like Gene Clark. He also uses words like "mellow" as insults, and occasionally forsakes critical objectivity and wears his prejudices (against such villains as the Eagles and the whole LA scene) on his sleeve. The index is a mess. But on the whole the book is well-researched and Doggett's knowledge is broad. If you enjoy this kind of music, it's a good read.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Wall on 28 May 2002
Format: Paperback
Peter Doggett's book on the relationship between country and rock is well written but flawed. Like so many more, he overrates the wrong artists and underrates the right artists. For example, he is rather dismissive of a god like Moon Mullican [who recorded some of the greatest country and hillbilly blues of all time - that was a precursor of blues based countryfied rock 'n' roll] and overrates, as another review states, artists like Gram Parsons.
"Are you ready for the country" could have been a lot better. Moon Mullican's contributions are to all intents and purposes ignored in favour of giving his protege, Jerry Lee Lewis, 100% credit. JLL deserves his dues as well, and he gets them. But, Moon's contributions are equally important and shouldn't be dismissed in favour of Jerry Lee or any other artist for that matter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Groundbraking but Muddled Study of the Country - Rock Dialog 6 Sept. 2001
By Francis Flannery - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the early months of 1966, Bob Dylan journeyed to Nashville to make what many regard as his masterwork - Blonde on Blonde, released in late spring of that year to a mixed response that has been obscured by the intervening years of baby-boomer hagiography and nostalgia. At the time, Dylan's surrealistic lyrics and increasingly edgy public persona lead many fans of his earlier acoustic-oriented material to condemn him as a traitor and a sellout to commercial interests - a moment that has been encapsulated in the marvelous live recording from Dylan's world tour of April and May of '66, released by Columbia/Sony as The Genuine Bootleg Series, Vol. 4, or Live 1966.
But this pivotal moment is not the platform upon which Peter Doggett bases his groundbreaking study of the dialog between country music and rock music, Are You Ready for the Country. Rather, it is the seemingly offhand decision that Dylan made in recording Blonde on Blonde - to relocate temporarily to Nashville and record with the cream of Nashville's session musician elite, that begins Doggett's fascinating and sometimes frustrating study of country music as it extends back and forth across time from this recording. Doggett's narrative partially revolves around the interesting idea that Dylan's recording in Nashville is a more significant event in the birth of what has been termed `country-rock' than the more recognizable signposts of Dylan's John Wesley Harding (1968) or Nashville Skyline (1969), or the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968). After Blonde on Blonde, Nashville became a fashionable environment for rock musicians to record in, and Nashville session players such as Charlie McCoy, Kenny Buttrey, and Pete Drake became recognized and sought-after names for sessions by musicians from the rock field. Doggett traces the influence that Dylan's Nashville gesture had on the other eminent stars of sixties rock: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), and the Grateful Dead all moved towards a more country oriented sound in the late sixties. This musical and cultural climate also accounts for some of the most popular music made during the 1970's - the soft country-rock of groups such as the Eagles, Poco, and Cactus. The hackneyed image of the rock-star as cowboy that became common during this era serves as a metaphor for the decay of a vital experiment into slick and professional L.A. hedonism. Doggett outlines this shift with a rueful and detail-oriented eye, tracing how this image of country has fed back into country music, producing the many and indistinguishable 'hat acts' of nineties commercial country.
Doggett is sometimes less successful in documenting an influence from rock into country, at least in the 1960's. The influence and intermingling of rock and country is referenced in the careers of Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, and Marty Robbins. Perhaps because country's response to rock was, especially in the 1960's (and arguably into the late 1970's) mostly reactive, Doggett does not convince that rock has had a profound influence on country until the rise of 'outlaw country' in the 1970's, concurrent with the emergence of Southern Rock. But when pre-60's artists themselves blur the lines between rock and country, Doggett acknowledges them and incorporates their exploits into his narrative. Doggett's chapters on Jerry Lee Lewis are especially wonderful, providing a less-metaphorical, but no less evocative portrait of the original country-rock madman than the one presented in Nick Tosches' classic Lewis bio, Hellfire. That Lewis is a key and under-appreciated (for reasons of personality) vessel for the fusion of country and rock is another important thread in Are You Ready for the Country.
The widely-credited father of country-rock, Gram Parsons, does not come across here as the visionary, flawed genius that (overly) reverent writers have depicted him as. Rather, Parsons appears as a powerful if erratic songwriter and singer, and a deeply troubled and rather opportunistic fan of country music, a performer whose "unwavering traditionalism always pointed to the past, and not the future." Parsons' role in birthing the strains of country rock that gave rise to the Eagles and the nineties `No Depression,' or alt.country movement is not denied, but it is placed into a perspective that allows for other equally important but less lionized pioneers such as Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, and Michael Nesmith to receive their due. Nonetheless, Doggett notes that for many recent innovators in the rock field who have roots or interests in country music - groups such as Lambchop, the Gourds, and Sparklehorse, and the chameleon ironist Beck, "the road from the Byrds through LA country-rock to the Long-Ryders doesn't show up on their maps. Only the maverick figure of Gram Parsons survives, resting alongside Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, and Jimmie Rodgers as a signpost along the path."
In pointing out the rather selective memory that assembles this lineage, Doggett serves as the conscience of the country-rock exchange. He assembles a river of information and anecdotes, including many undesirable, unfashionable, crass, momentous, and sometimes brilliant elements. His narrative, the water of this river, is written in a readable, if not always dazzling style. The division of his narrative into chapters devoted to particular clusters of artists or particular periods produces many juxtapositions of personalities and careers - some of these juxtapositions lead the reader into interesting re-assessments, while others seem arbitrary or confusing - any book that attempts to draw Gram Parsons, Lionel Ritchie, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Dylan, The Eagles, George Jones, Beck, The Beau Brummels, John Travolta, Willie Nelson, and Wilco within its covers is bound to have its bizarre and confusing moments. There are chapters of this book that warrant a number of books on their own, and the story contained here is far too rich to be encompassed in 500 pages. Ultimately, and in spite of its' shortcomings in some areas, this is an excellent and long overdue account of the often-strange and significant relationship between country and rock, deserving a place on the shelf of any fan of the musics addressed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Uneven, but well worth buying and reading 18 Feb. 2002
By David Hisbrook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Doggett is clearly in love with the intersection of country with rock music and has amazing anecdotes to tell about Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and about 100 other greater and lesser lights of country rock. His knowledge is encyclopedic and his opinions are well-formed and well-informed. I, like Doggett, fell for country music around the time of Dylan's Nashville Skyline and the Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and in many ways never looked back. Gram Parsons entered into my personal mythology with the release of Gilded Palace Of Sin and got cemented there by his self-destruction in 1972. One of the best things about this book is that it managed to "demythologize" Parsons and helped me understand what he meant. Parsons was so afraid of not being hip and on the cutting edge, that he could not survive. After he had preached the gospel of country traditionalism, he couldn't get it together to become "traditional" unlike those closest to him. This book is, at it's core, about Parsons and the impulses he represented. The subtitle (Elvis, Dylan, Parsons and the roots of country rock) is ill-fitting and sounds as if it was pasted on by a Penguin editor or marketing drone because books about Dylan and Elvis sell. I also like the fact that Doggett made me reconsider artists I dismissed 30 years ago (such as Michael Nesmith). The most compelling parts of the book are insights into the personalities and the least compelling parts are the crush of minutiae about recording sessions and discographies..."and then Roseanne Cash went into the studio with Don Was..." that kind of thing - didn't add new insight. Very good book, though. Nostalgia+new appreciations+new artists+hilariously dry opinions ("hat act" will never mean the same thing again).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
a complex book for a complex story 27 Nov. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book does an excellent job of tracing the half-century relationship between country music and rock 'n' roll. I don't find it "muddled" at all and prefer the detailed information over a more streamlined slant that would have sacrificed information for an "angle." The author dwells on sensationalistic events (there certainly are enough of them to go around) only to the extent needed to provide context for the musical developments. His respect for the musicians and their music is obvious and appreciated.
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