Sunday, February 02, 2014

Buck 'Em - The Autobiography of Buck Owens with Randy Poe

As I've said a number of times, I'm still learning about country music, since I grew up as a rock'n'roller with folk/bluegrass influences, but C&W was a bit too slick for me. I am learning to appreciate it now and Buck Owens was absolutely one of the biggest stars in the field and he has a compelling story.

When Buck decided to tell his story, he started dictating into a cassette machine, eventually leaving behind dozens and dozens of tapes that Randy Poe - know for his excellent Duanne Allman bio, Skydog - edited and compiled into this tale. Poe comments on Buck's excellent memory for dates and incidents and since little needed to be added, he lets Owens speak for himself.

Born in Texas, growing up in Arizona, fleeing the Dust Bowl, working the land and traveling the country gave Buck a hard-won work ethic which served him well in his music career. From being a backing musician to becoming a star - with plenty of hard work and dedication in between - he tells of recording sessions, memorable shows and personal anecdotes.

At times he comes off a bit egomaniacal, although with 20 #1 hits (so many that he is disappointed when a song "only" reaches number 2!), and lots more in the Top Ten and Top Forty, I suppose he has a right. He was a good businessman, as well, and made investments that paid off later in his life when his star waned. Of course, his time on Hee Haw is documented, though he doesn't dwell on it and he tends to blame the show for his diminishing singing career - it is certainly possible that it was just his time, since he had a long string of hits, but there is no way to be certain either way.

In any case, this is a good read, told in an informal but entertaining way. A good insight to this country star.

PS - I do like the fact that he makes a point to mention playing a Hootenanny with Social D., The Cramps and X and getting a great reaction from the young punk rockers.