Three Chords and the Truth: Hope, Heartbreak, and Changing Fortunes in Nashville

Laurence Leamer, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-017505-4
Leamer, known primarily for his celebrity biographies like King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson, here turns to country music. Music itself, however, is not his focus, but rather the stars who happen to be country musicians. Nineteen of the book's 20 chapters focus on individuals or bands, and the last chapter is an epilogue that brings the reader up to date on the latest developments in the career of each artist. Leamer takes the reader backstage and into the lives of such country stars as Brooks and Dunn, Shania Twain, Vince Gill and Mary Chapin Carpenter, describing their childhoods, personalities and romances. To the point of overkill, he gives the reader the goods on Naomi and Wynonna Judd's infighting, Garth Brooks's devotion to his fans, Emmylou Harris's financial difficulties and so on. Leamer, unfortunately, is given to uninspired writing (""Emmylou knew only one way to perform, and that was to give everything and then some""), and also has a tendency to divide his subjects into Good (Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris) and Bad (Reba McIntyre, the Judds); since the music itself is only of secondary interest, Leamer's judgment appears to be based primarily on the performers' personalities. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
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