A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Buck 'Em by Buck Owens and Randy Poe is a Backbeat Books/ Hal Leordard Corporation publication released on November 1st, 2013. I receieved a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is an autobiography told in first person by Buck Owens via cassette tapes he had recorded prior to his death in 2006. Randy Poe went through these tapes that were not in any order apparently. Buck had recorded events as he thought of them and so Randy Poe had quite a job getting these tapes organized for this book. He did an outstanding job.
The book starts out with Buck's early life, how he came up with the name "Buck", which was not his given name. His very humble beginnings, his first musical instrument, how he became a vocalist, and his first marriage at a very young age.
Buck played in the "hole in wall" honky tonks and worked as a disc jockey .
"Man, it was a lot of fun to be a disc jockey in those days. There was no music director, no program director- there was nobody around to tell you what to play or when to play it. Nobody talked demographics or ratings or any of that %&*@ that's completely taken over radio today. I could play my favorite records the whole shift. I spun records I liked that I thought the listeners would like, too. There were no rules, and I loved it."
Buck's career wasn't the overnight sucess type story. His career was a slow, steady climb. He didn't always follow the rules and some in the music industry didn't like that. The Nashville establishment wasn't who Buck was concerned about. He cared about the fans who were the ones buying the records. He wanted the fans to know he would stay loyal to them and his type of music.
"And I wanted those bigwigs in Nashville to know the same thing, so in March of '65- right in the middle of the five weeks that "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" was sitting at the top of the charts- I took out a fullpage ad in this Nashville trade paper called the Music City News. I called it "Pledge to Country Music"
It said:
I shall sing no song that is not a country song. I shall make no record that is not a country record. I refuse to be known as anything but a country singer. I am proud to be associated with country music. Country music fans have made me what I am today. And I shall not forget it.
Buck Owens"
Buck pulled no punches about anything. He made no excuses for his mistakes. He didn't try to tone down his ego or hide his feelings about things.
There were some really funny stories in here, some interesting facts about Buck's life, and some really heartbreaking events as well. Buck lived a full life, although it was often filled with health issues over the last ten years of his life.
I really liked how the book focuses on Buck's life and music and not so much on the television show "Hee Haw". To me the show was the least interesting thing about his career save for the story regarding the red, white, and blue guitar he used on the show.
"The Buck Owens Show: Big in Vegas barely made it into the Top Ten on the album charts, which was a hint of things to come. The more popular Hee Haw got, the less my records sold. It was the beginning of a pattern that I'd suspected might happen- but I just couldn't turn down the Hee Haw paycheck."
Buck's chart topping sucess had a second life however, when he and Dewight Yoakum teamed up. Buck's music reached a whole new audience and he once more had sucess on the charts and out on tour.
Growing up, my parents always had country music on the radio, even when it wasn't the most popular of genres. I personally wasn't crazy about the whiny, singing through your nose, crying in my beer songs. I was a teenager and liked different music. But, Buck Owens' "Bakersfield" sound was unique. I really liked his style.
Even if you are not a fan of country music, I think you find that Buck was more than a country music star and TV star. He was also a savvy business man as well. He did things his way and it worked for him.
Overall this one gets an A.

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