Nashville City Blues: My Journey as an American Songwriter

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University of Oklahoma Press, Mar 9, 2023 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
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For many diehard music fans and critics, Oklahoma-born James Talley ranks among the finest of American singer-songwriters. Talley’s unique style—a blend of folk, country, blues, and social commentary—draws comparisons with the likes of Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash. In this engaging, down-to-earth memoir, Talley recalls the highs and lows of his nearly fifty-year career in country music.

Talley’s story begins in the hardscrabble towns of eastern Oklahoma. As a young man, he witnessed poverty and despair and worked alongside ordinary Americans who struggled to make ends meet. He has never forgotten his Oklahoma roots. These experiences shaped Talley’s artistic vision and inspired him to write his own songs.

Eventually Talley landed in Nashville, where his first years included exciting brushes with fame but also bitter disappointments. As an early champion of social justice causes, his ideals did not fit neatly into Nashville’s star-making machine. By his own admission, Talley at times made poor business decisions and trusted the wrong people. His relationship with the country music industry was—and still is—fraught, but he makes no apology for staying true to his core principles. Nashville City Blues offers hard-won wisdom for any aspiring artist motivated to work hard and handle whatever setbacks might follow. Readers will also gain valuable understanding about the country music industry and the inescapable links between commerce and artistry.

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Foreword by Peter Guralnick Prologue
Songs of My Oklahoma Home
In the Spanish Southwest
An Old Brick Warehouse on Trumbull Street
Learning the Blues in Nashville
John Hammond Clive Davis and Jerry Wexler
At the Old Hounds Ear Studio
Working for Wages Again in Nashville
B B and the Carter Inauguration
But Art Isnt Enough
Philip Morris the White House and a Trip to Montana
No Longer Had Anyone I Needed to Call in New York
They Dont Matter Anyway
Bear Family the Capitol Reissues and Cimarron Records
A Creative Oasis in South Texas and Those Who Cant
And Thats How I Will Finish

How Can It Be Any Good? We Didnt Pay Anything for
Its All about the Money Thats Made
The Great Southeast Music Hall and the Palomino Club
James Talley Discography

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About the author (2023)

James Talley is a Nashville-based guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Through the years, Talley's songs have been recorded by the likes of Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, Gene Clark, Johnny Paycheck, and Moby.

Peter Guralnick is an American music critic, author, and screenwriter. He specializes in the history of early rock and roll and has written on Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, and Sam Cooke.

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