Saturday, 31 August 2013

Stalking the catalogue: Cadillac dreams

"It started with Graceland."
- Phil Gifford

Every great adventure should start with a quote a little something like the one above.  Our catalogue synopsis doesn't even begin to do this book justice - in fact, it does more of a disservice than anything else.

This is going to suck as a 'stalking the catalogue' post because it's going to ramble. (Yeah, like every other post I write).

I loved it. Yeah, I know, I almost always say that about books but this one really struck a chord. Possibly because Phil and wife and friends visited the parts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee that I'd wanted to see but didn't have the time when I was there. What also comes through is their genuine love of music and people. Four friends decide to take a trip to the US and check out the places that were home to music styles and musicians that meant so much to them growing up. It could have been hokey. In fact some part of me was quite scared it would be. What else am I supposed to expect of someone who WANTED to visit Dollywood ON PURPOSE, for crying out loud? But it wasn't - it was fun, lighthearted, serious, a social commentary, engaging, very informative and, at all times, highly entertaining.

In my mind, the mark of a great book is something that moves you - to laughter, to tears, to anger, to disgust - to anything. I want to take Gifford's trip, now. I want to visit the Alamo, I want to see more bars on Beale St (instead of just poking my head into B. B. King's bar), I want to redo the Rock and Soul Museum, I want to hear bluegrass music played in Mississippi or Tennessee (although preferably Kentucky). Even more, I want to have the same varied range of conversations that they had. Maybe that, too is the mark of a good book. An added bonus was that I learnt so much about Gifford the man. For years I'd always just thought of him as Loosehead Len - thanks to dad I grew up listening to his sports broadcasts/reading his newspaper articles. My dad really respected his opinion. But I never knew that he had been the kinda journalist who interviewed musicians. And not tinpot musos (although maybe those too) but freakin' artists like B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and so many more my head spins just thinking about it. I was mightily impressed. Not just because he spoke to them but because he KNEW their music, FELT their music, UNDERSTOOD their music. It wasn't just words. He got it, and because he writes so well, I got it, too.

A smidgeon of it, but I got it.

Title: Cadillac dreams : Baby booming across the Southern States
Author: Phil Gifford
Published: Wilson Scott Pub., c2006

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