Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Report: Ashley Cleveland and Mac Gayden

Two of my friends and  clients have recently published books and I am happy to report that they are both excellent reads.

            The first book I covered was Ashley Cleveland's memoir Little Black Sheep (David Cook 2013). When I think of Ashley Cleveland,  I think of the fact she is one of the finest rock singers I’ve ever heard  and that she seems to exude such happiness when she performs.  She has won a Dove award but she knows how to sing the Rolling Stones.  I found her book uplifting, heartbreaking and humorous all at the same time.  She is very honest in describing the large and small tragedies of her life and it is the universality of her struggle (meaning that every individual can relate to the problems she has had to overcome) coupled with the straightforward way that she describes her salvation that makes this book so compelling.  This is a story where the good guys win.

            Mac Gayden’s Missing String Theory (Elephant Walk Press, 2013) details a spiritual journey of a different path.  I have known and worked with Mac for years and of course, I knew of him long  before I met him.  Mac’s book is fascinating because it gives a detailed view from his unique position in Nashville (from playing in frat bands to co-writing “Everlasting Love” and “She Shot a Hole in my Soul” to Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry to “Blonde on Blonde,” “Morning Glory”, J.J. Cale… it just goes on and on.  Also there are  some great anecdotes about the famous and infamous and a lot of Nashville history.  Mac’s musical story coincides with  his spiritual growth and this is a profound story as well.   The book functions not only as an autobiography but as a cultural study of a very special  time in Nashville and of a gifted individual who musically bridges every important music scene to come out of this city  since the 1960s.  Even today Mac continues to do important work.

            I really enjoyed reading both of these books partly because I’m a fan of both Ashley and Mac but also because I now have a stronger sense of the conviction that goes into their performances.’s not just singing and playing.  I think that we are very lucky that they have both shared   their stories.

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