The Garth Factor, 2009, Center Street
Reviewed By Mahlon Christensen
In The Garth Factor, Patsi Bale Cox chronicles the highs and lows in Garth Brooks roller coaster ride to becoming the biggest selling recording artist of all time. In the process she sets straight many misconceptions that have plagued Garth for much of his career. Through interviews with many of the musicians, songwriters and executives integral to Garth's success you'll get a behind the scenes look at how his music was recorded and marketed. You'll also learn the stories behind your favorite Garth Brooks songs. Long-time fans who've followed Garth's career closely may think they know all there is to know about the major confrontations that Garth had with various music row executives and other industry insiders, but I can guarantee that they will be surprised by the perspective Bale Cox offers on these major controversies. Fans will feel that they understand Garth better both professionally and personally after they've finished this book.
The author not only offers the reader an in-depth analysis of Brooks career, she also places it in the context of everything going on along music row at the time, discussing both artists who influenced Garth,as well as the careers of many of his "Class of '89" contemporaries,and also the next generation of performers who have risen to prominence in the wake of his retirement. In short, she paints a comprehensive picture of Country Music in the '90's. It's this aspect of The Garth Factor that lifts it above the realm of mere Biography and makes it a work of serious scholarship. This book is is essential reading for every serious student of the genre, and even casual fans of Garth, or those who came of age listening to Country Music in the last two decades will find much to enjoy.
A Country Music Christmas, with Cathie Pelletier, Jim Glaser and Carl Hileman, Crown
from amazon.com: "The most wonderful thing about this lovely book is that it's more about Americana than country music. (I'm not even that big a fan of country--I bought it because I'm a Cathie Pelltier fan--I love her novels!) But I ended up reading every story and loving them all, especially the ones for Jeanne Pruett (I saw it in COUNTRY CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, too) Skeeter Davis, and Jimmy C. Newman. Great reading. I also like Ronnie Milsap's tale of the past."
Nickel Dreams, with Tanya Tucker, Hyperion
from amazon.com: "Embarking upon her singing career at the tender age of 11, Tanya Tucker grew up fast and hard and wild. She seemed destined for either the highest fame or the worst destruction--maybe even both. From the big time to rock bottom and back again, her life reads like a blueprint for one of the melancholy songs that made her a star in country music, and her revealing memoir, Nickel Dreams: My Life, leaves out little of the nitty-gritty. With the aid of author and friend Patsi Bale Cox, Tucker writes honestly about her many exploits that became tabloid fodder--a fiery public affair with Glen Campbell and a long battle with alcoholism among them--without glossing over them or apologizing. There are plenty of anecdotes and revelations about her music as well, plus a peek at the backrooms of the music business and the shady dealings that occur there. Close attention is paid to her childhood and the overbearing presence of a father/manager who wanted his daughter to be a grown woman and a little girl at the same time. "
My Story, with Jenny Jones, Andrews McMeal
from amazon.com: "Jenny Jones: My Story was the best biography that I have ever read. I am a real Jenny Jones fan and I couldn't wait to find out more about her. Boy did she reveal everything in her book. I enjoyed her honesty and openness with her readers. In ways, unfortunately, I can relate to some of the things that she talks about. I was very curious to hear the details about the notorious "secret crush show" for the first time from Jenny herself. Again, she was real honest and open. My favorite part of her book was when she explained a day in the life of Jenny during tapings of the Jenny Jones Show. I did not realize that she is so involved in everything. I am an avid fan of talk shows who has been in audiences of those in New York City many times and it was fun to see things from the other side. The end of the book brought tears to my eyes. I feel for Jenny and all of her hardships. I wish her continuing success in all that she does." Kristen Krikorian Syracuse, New York
The View From Nashville, with Ralph Emery. William Morrow
from amazon.com: "When a man has been in a business for all his adult life, he is well quialified to write about that business and the people within. There in lies the story of "View From Nashville". No other living person knows and can tell the story of "Nashville" scene better than Ralph Emery. The reader gets to know as a person one on one Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and countless others. Loretta speaks of an out of body experience as she stood by the bedside of her dying friend Conway Twitty. Merl Kilgore relates through Ralph the message Jim Reeves sent him from the other side. One finds that being a child star does not always mean living in a big house, and driving a fancy car as Brenda Lee relates. That Elvis might have appeared on a recording after his death. Through the writing of this Nashville Icon one learns the humor of Roger Miller, and gets to know stars Reba McIntre and Brooks and Dunn. For Elvis fans he writes extensively about an interview with Colonel Tom Parker and the book he would never write. One can feel the love the author has for the business, his city, and peers. No one else could or has told the Nashville story like Ralph Emery in View From Nashville. No wonder his TNN program was voted the networks most popular for 10 consecutive years. Thank goodness he has had time to pen these stories in written form so they may be enjoyed forever. "
Fifty Years Down a Country Road, with Ralph Emery, William Morrow
from amazon.com: "Disk-jockey-wise, Emery is the Wolfman Jack of country music. His fourth book, dedicated "to Eddy Arnold, country music's first superstar," tells the history of country music by focusing on its creators--Hank Williams, songwriter-publisher Fred Rose, crossover superstar Marty Robbins, king and queen of country George Jones and Tammy Wynette. In "The 'Heartbreak Hotel' Factor," Emery explains how the Elvis Presley phenomenon benefited country and why the King deserved induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Emery also limns more recent performers like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks, who are a much less interesting group in the hands of lesser chroniclers. His profiling of stylistic throwbacks Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and George Strait gives hope to fans of country that doesn't sound like pop schlock with steel guitars, and the chapter on Roger Miller is especially wry and warm. Although doubtless doomed to a country music ghetto in some collections, this excellent pop-music history might be profitably read by any American-music fan." Mike Tribby
Still Woman Enough, with Loretta Lynn, Hyperion
from amazon.com: "In her best-selling Coal Miner's Daughter, Lynn allowed us to watch her grow from a na‹ve mountain girl in Butcher Holler, KY, into a country superstar. Husband Doolittle "Doo" Lynn played a major role in that earlier memoir, and it was his death in August 1996, as well as the passing of several close friends, that made her realize that her life story deserved a sequel. Here, the Country Music Hall of Fame member sets us down on the porch and talks more about Doo (his alcoholism and womanizing in particular), her own struggles with bacterial pneumonia and other health conditions, and the deaths of her mother, siblings, and son, Jack Benny. With her homespun, folksy voice, Lynn also reminisces about many of her friends Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline, Cal Smith, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Conway Twitty, and Tammy Wynette and thanks the Wilburn Brothers for taking her under their wing and helping launch her career. Humorous and honest, Lynn gives us that rare opportunity to know what kind of strength it takes to stand by one's man (in spite of Doo's boozing and cheating, she loves him to this day) and make it through the night. Recommended for all libraries." Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA
Halfway to Paradise, with Tony Orlando, St. Martin's
from amazon.com: "And now, tie a yellow ribbon 'round the formulaic pop song, and break out the pastel double-knit suits. Tony Orlando and Patsi Cox regale us with the pointedly inspiring story of the former's journey to the top of the pop-star heap and his battle with cocaine addiction, which he won while his close friend Freddie Prinze lost. Cox, who recently assisted with Loretta Lynn's first-rate Still Woman Enough, keeps Orlando's testimony rolling merrily, neither lingering too long in its valleys nor, for the most part, overtrumpeting its peaks. Orlando's take on doing business in the Tin-Pan-Alley mainstream of pop music in the era of punk and disco is informative, and those interested in what Don Kirschner and his ilk were really like will want to read closely." Mike Tribby
Coming Home to Myself, with Wynonna
from amazon.com: "I just read Wynona Judds Memior Coming Home to Myself. The scary thing is..I read the whole book in less than 24 hours. For a book to captivate me like that is in itself, something... I found it to be powerful. This book hit on so many supjects...healthy relationships, anxiety and depression, parenting, entertainment, health and wellness, childrens health and development but mostly,personal growth..... "
100 Ways to Beat the Blues, with Tanya Tucker
from amazon.com: "Country star Tucker gathers the tried-and-true techniques for beating passing fits of depression from a passel of her friends, peers and family. Each comes in at a few paragraphs measuring a page or two, and all have a comradely sense of having been down and lived to tell about it. Garth Brooks talks of dialing down his career in order to lift himself up; Brenda Lee finds that "offering a helping hand to another will lift you up faster than anything"; Nashville bootmaker Rodney Ammons notes, "[I]t's against the law for the blues to follow you up on your mother's front porch!" Plenty of other celebs--from Loretta Lynn and Kris Kristofferson to former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara--check in, but what they say is less important than the sense of a burden shared and repeatedly overcome. As Kristofferson says, "I don't beat the blues; the blues beats me./ Daily./ Like a drum." Despite a great deal of self-help lite, the cumulative effect is substantive. (Mar. 15)"
The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom, Center Street, 2009
Also collaborated on the mystery If Thoughts Could Kill, with my sister Gladys Bale Wellbrock, under the pen name GF Bale, Charter Diamond, 1990
from amazon.com: "One of the best books I have ever read, I just couldn't put it down until I had finished thee whole book. I have re-read it so many times I have lost count, and never get bored of doing so. The author makes you feel as though you are actually there throughout all the events. Definately a must for anyone who loves reading."
This book was my sister's idea and I just came along for the ride -- Gladys went on to write a series of mysteries under the name GF Bale, as well as Emma Brookes. They are all wonderful...check them out on amazon.com!