by Michael Streissguth
Published by Published by It Books, June 2013
Part biographies of these three legendary musicians and part exploration of the changing Nashville music scene in the late 1960s, Outlaw is a fascinating, in-depth look at a major turning point in country music and the formidable forces behind that change.
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson found themselves in Nashville, writing songs, riffing with fellow songwriters and musicians, and vying for recording contracts. All three picked up on the unrest of the late 1960s and early 1970s—the protests, the feminists, the reactions to the Vietnam War, racial tensions, changing political factions—and began inserting those notions into their music. All three resisted the country music industry’s unwritten rules, which prescribed the length, meter, and content of songs, as well as how they wre recorded, thus cementing themselves as the leaders of the outlaw movement. All three worked to establish a new genre of country music—one that ultimately changed the recording industry.
Acclaimed author Michael Streissguth tracks the paths of Waylon, Willie, and Kris, and he offers a broad portrait of the outlaw movement in Nashville, making room for a diverse secondary cast, including Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Kinky Friedman, and Billy Joe Shaver, among others. Nashville also serves as an important—and lively—character in this exploration of outlaw country. The city was rife with political activism and musical experimentation, and its West End became Nashville’s very own Greenwich Village.
Outlaw is a comprehensive and thoughtful examination of a fascinating shift in country msuic and the three unbelievably talented musicians who forged the way.
Michael Streissguth is a professor in the Department of Communications and Film Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He is the author of several books, including Johnny Cash: The Biography. He has produced two documentary films: Record Paradise and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.
"The author educates fans and insiders by delving into the disarming reality of these notorious superstars, delivering anecdotes of performances, drugs and misfortune... A biting, in-depth chronicle of Nashville’s most tumultuous era told through the voices of iconic artists who used their music to accomplish significant changes in the music industry."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Streissguth goes widescreen with this look at the social and musical ferment that produced the Seventies outlaw-country movement--a transformational break from the past that brought the post-hippie singer-songwriter ethos to superstraight Music Row. He skillfully portrays Sixties Nashville's studio politics and their gradual loosening up, alongside a city where post-Sixties social change took its time arriving."--Rolling Stone
"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."--The Wall Street Journal