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Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music

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Peter Guralnick, dean of rock-and roll-storytellers, writes in the introduction to Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride, “Peter Cooper has always been in the mix.” Whether spending time with Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, playing bass for Loretta Lynn, discussing songwriting with Taylor Swift, or introducing the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter to Porter Wagoner, Peter Cooper Peter Guralnick, dean of rock-and roll-storytellers, writes in the introduction to Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride, “Peter Cooper has always been in the mix.” Whether spending time with Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, playing bass for Loretta Lynn, discussing songwriting with Taylor Swift, or introducing the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter to Porter Wagoner, Peter Cooper has continually found himself in the presence of music royalty and the recipient of countless intimate conversations, asides, and confidences. In Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music, Cooper chronicles his many “in the mix” tales since arriving in Nashville in 2000 to cover the country music scene for the Tennessean. Filled with untold stories and newly revealed histories, it is an informal yet well-studied inside view of country music’s greatest characters and pivotal moments. Now a senior director at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Cooper’s stories are akin to a curated behind-the-scenes tour of country music. Spanning nineteen chapters, Cooper offers an original take on the formative days at WSM and engaging introductions to an ensemble cast of country music’s icons, quirks, and golden-but-hidden personalities. With a gem on every page, Cooper has crafted a perceptive, smiling, and atypical immersion into the world of country music that will keep any music fan engaged with its wit, passion, and authenticity.


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Peter Guralnick, dean of rock-and roll-storytellers, writes in the introduction to Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride, “Peter Cooper has always been in the mix.” Whether spending time with Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, playing bass for Loretta Lynn, discussing songwriting with Taylor Swift, or introducing the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter to Porter Wagoner, Peter Cooper Peter Guralnick, dean of rock-and roll-storytellers, writes in the introduction to Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride, “Peter Cooper has always been in the mix.” Whether spending time with Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, playing bass for Loretta Lynn, discussing songwriting with Taylor Swift, or introducing the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter to Porter Wagoner, Peter Cooper has continually found himself in the presence of music royalty and the recipient of countless intimate conversations, asides, and confidences. In Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music, Cooper chronicles his many “in the mix” tales since arriving in Nashville in 2000 to cover the country music scene for the Tennessean. Filled with untold stories and newly revealed histories, it is an informal yet well-studied inside view of country music’s greatest characters and pivotal moments. Now a senior director at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Cooper’s stories are akin to a curated behind-the-scenes tour of country music. Spanning nineteen chapters, Cooper offers an original take on the formative days at WSM and engaging introductions to an ensemble cast of country music’s icons, quirks, and golden-but-hidden personalities. With a gem on every page, Cooper has crafted a perceptive, smiling, and atypical immersion into the world of country music that will keep any music fan engaged with its wit, passion, and authenticity.

30 review for Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Cooper's written a story book for folks who love singer-songwriters. And for me, they are the only "country" singers worth writing about. Always kind, but never without wit, Cooper doesn't shy from the personal foibles of his subjects. I found his profile on Kristofferson fascinating. And in the end, a gut punch. Cooper's written a story book for folks who love singer-songwriters. And for me, they are the only "country" singers worth writing about. Always kind, but never without wit, Cooper doesn't shy from the personal foibles of his subjects. I found his profile on Kristofferson fascinating. And in the end, a gut punch.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Backoff51

    A great book. Full of stories about many of the great singers and writers who made country music so wonderful and important. You will be so happy with yourself if you read this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book meanders a lot, in the best way possible. Cooper's anecdotes make country stars seem less legendary than achingly human, and he throws in observations about toxic fandom and fist-shaky complaints about the songs they play on the radio. I read a library copy, and I'll probably wait for another edition before I buy my own simply because of quite a few typos and homophone errors, but in terms of content, this goes beyond stories of the country music industry to an exploration of how the i This book meanders a lot, in the best way possible. Cooper's anecdotes make country stars seem less legendary than achingly human, and he throws in observations about toxic fandom and fist-shaky complaints about the songs they play on the radio. I read a library copy, and I'll probably wait for another edition before I buy my own simply because of quite a few typos and homophone errors, but in terms of content, this goes beyond stories of the country music industry to an exploration of how the industry's players reflect the human condition.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nance

    It is tragic how few ratings and reviews this book has. It’s a sheer delight. I began the book familiar with Johnny Cash and otherwise totally ignorant of most things country music. Hank Williams? Roy Acuff? Wasn’t Kris Kristofferson in the Blade movies? I learned so much from this book (read it with Spotify!!) - and I was just as entertained as I was educated. The stories Cooper tells are incredible. And his writing style is simple, fun, and quick. And occasionally moving. “Cash was elemental, It is tragic how few ratings and reviews this book has. It’s a sheer delight. I began the book familiar with Johnny Cash and otherwise totally ignorant of most things country music. Hank Williams? Roy Acuff? Wasn’t Kris Kristofferson in the Blade movies? I learned so much from this book (read it with Spotify!!) - and I was just as entertained as I was educated. The stories Cooper tells are incredible. And his writing style is simple, fun, and quick. And occasionally moving. “Cash was elemental, is what I’m trying to say. He was more granite and fire than flesh and blood.” That’s some fine writing. If you’re a country music fan, read this. If you’re not, read this. I wasn’t. But I might be now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Patti Abernathy

    Peter Cooper gives the reader an insider's perspective into some of the great songwriters/characters of country music. From Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift he provides insight into some of Nashville's famous performers but also some who worked behind the scenes for years. As a journalist in Nashville Peter includes anecdotes from his personal experiences and from interviews with others who knew these legends. A quick enjoyable read. Peter Cooper gives the reader an insider's perspective into some of the great songwriters/characters of country music. From Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift he provides insight into some of Nashville's famous performers but also some who worked behind the scenes for years. As a journalist in Nashville Peter includes anecdotes from his personal experiences and from interviews with others who knew these legends. A quick enjoyable read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bea Bruce

    The content was good; Peter Cooper writes well and can be counted on for an unusual turn of phrase. However, this is one of the worst-edited books I have read in a long time. Some pages had multiple errors. It is such a disservice to a decent writer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ken Dowell

    As the title would suggest this is a book of stories about country music and the musicians who make it. There are stories about the biggest names in country from Hank Williams to Taylor Swift. Cooper also introduces some folks we’d otherwise never know, like the woman who mans the door at the Station Inn in Nashville’s Gulch. He tells the story about how an offer to Flatt and Scruggs to play the anthem for the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” was almost turned away by Scruggs’ wife Louise who di As the title would suggest this is a book of stories about country music and the musicians who make it. There are stories about the biggest names in country from Hank Williams to Taylor Swift. Cooper also introduces some folks we’d otherwise never know, like the woman who mans the door at the Station Inn in Nashville’s Gulch. He tells the story about how an offer to Flatt and Scruggs to play the anthem for the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” was almost turned away by Scruggs’ wife Louise who didn’t like the use of the word “hillbilly.” We learn that baseball great Warren Spahn was an asshole. And did you know that kids’ book author Shel Silverstein wrote the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue?” I read this book a short time after visiting Nashville. After going to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Grand Ole Opry. All those things changed what I thought about country music. And they made me appreciate this book much more than I otherwise would have. Cooper is a writer but also a musician of some note. He writes in a breezy and informal style. He knows Nashville, he knows country music, and he seems to know just about everybody. It’s a little like reading the newspaper: the stories come in all shapes and sizes and one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the next one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kent

    What I like about this book: --the stories of music legends both familiar and unfamiliar (like Cash, Haggard, Tubb, Scrubbs, Hank Williams, Swift, Jimmie Rodgers, George Jones, Porter Wagoner) --these aren't full-on biographies --the anecdotal way the stories are told --the writing – lyrical, fun, clever, humorous --the author's scattered autobiographical notes – I generally hate it when authors insert themselves into their work; Mr. Cooper, however, is unobtrusive and does so in a way that brings mo What I like about this book: --the stories of music legends both familiar and unfamiliar (like Cash, Haggard, Tubb, Scrubbs, Hank Williams, Swift, Jimmie Rodgers, George Jones, Porter Wagoner) --these aren't full-on biographies --the anecdotal way the stories are told --the writing – lyrical, fun, clever, humorous --the author's scattered autobiographical notes – I generally hate it when authors insert themselves into their work; Mr. Cooper, however, is unobtrusive and does so in a way that brings more attention to his subjects than himself --the author's deep appreciation for his subjects – he doesn't gloss over flaws, but he doesn't hold those flaws against his subjects, either; he's not a glassy-eyed fanboy, but he is a grateful auditor of their talents The only two drawbacks: --some explicit material --the editor may have been distracted; when I started keeping track, I found 6 grammatical issues in the last 40 pages of the book; this was a minor distraction

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Miller

    The anecdotes are fun, but the real pride here is in Cooper's prose. He writes about musicians as a balladeer composing epic tragedies or a minstrel entertaining the entire pub around a roaring fire. Grab a set of headphones, head to Spotify (or your favorite all-inclusive streaming music service), and immerse yourself to the songs and artists as Cooper describes their lives and their craft. You don't even need to like country music (the old kind, not the new radio versions), to appreciate this The anecdotes are fun, but the real pride here is in Cooper's prose. He writes about musicians as a balladeer composing epic tragedies or a minstrel entertaining the entire pub around a roaring fire. Grab a set of headphones, head to Spotify (or your favorite all-inclusive streaming music service), and immerse yourself to the songs and artists as Cooper describes their lives and their craft. You don't even need to like country music (the old kind, not the new radio versions), to appreciate this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    Great book with short interesting true anticdotes of various country music artists including some of the true pioneers who set the standard when the music was actually good instead of the pop style, shrink-wrapped bullshit by wannabe “country boys” and girls that occupies Nashville airwaves today. Cooper doesn’t hold back either, this is a real fun book to read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Excellent read! A real page turner for me, but I have to agree with the person who commented on the typos. I felt like the editor proof reader of the volume used Spell Check and ignored grammar altogether. Still thoroughly enjoyed the book. From the moment he explained how country music came to have Nashville as its home, he had me hooked.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John

    Many of the stories in this book are well known to country music historians and fans, but that does not make them any less interesting. Like many country songs, there are plenty of tragic stories. Some of the most interesting stories are from the less famous country music figures such as bar owners, road managers, and folks who have spent their lives supporting the country music artists.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dale Cousins

    The corn pone title is a direct quote that goes "if I had Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride, then I wouldn't have a Buck Owen on my car." Taaadaa..we'll be here all week! Seriously, an interesting look at Country's stars by music writer Peter Cooper. He spends a good deal of time on songwriters which appealed to me as did the forward by the great God of music writers, Peter Guralnick. The corn pone title is a direct quote that goes "if I had Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride, then I wouldn't have a Buck Owen on my car." Taaadaa..we'll be here all week! Seriously, an interesting look at Country's stars by music writer Peter Cooper. He spends a good deal of time on songwriters which appealed to me as did the forward by the great God of music writers, Peter Guralnick.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Don't go in expecting an in depth look at any of the subjects. It's more of a series of short profiles that capture their essence. It would have benefited from a tighter edit (there were several redundant passages), but it was an enjoyable read, regardless. Don't go in expecting an in depth look at any of the subjects. It's more of a series of short profiles that capture their essence. It would have benefited from a tighter edit (there were several redundant passages), but it was an enjoyable read, regardless.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Travis Rountree

    Cooper writes, “If you do it correctly, writing about music doesn’t distract, it informs” (241). Indeed an informative book about not only country music history and industry, but a close personal look at the lives of those who created and continue to create it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I knew Peter Cooper's writing from his years with The Tennessean newspaper, so I had no doubts about appreciating this book. But man, what stories, brought to life again by a true storyteller. Even the ones I've heard before were a thrill to rediscover. I knew Peter Cooper's writing from his years with The Tennessean newspaper, so I had no doubts about appreciating this book. But man, what stories, brought to life again by a true storyteller. Even the ones I've heard before were a thrill to rediscover.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Elliott

    No issues with the content at all. Cooper is a very conversational, direct writer. The anecdotes he shares are touching, funny, informative, and at times poignant. However, I found the copy editing somewhat lacking overall.

  18. 4 out of 5

    MaryElmore

    Peter Cooper has a really unique and engaging style of writing and this book was fun to read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hallquist

    An absolute pleasure to read. The writing is witty and informative. Great stories from Country and Americana artists. Very hard to put this book down.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Tevlin

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard Sefton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Niki

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mattiedee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Beasley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Morgyn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben Stanton

  29. 4 out of 5

    Narda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Duncan

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