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Stalking the Red Headed Stranger

Randy Poe

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 15, 2012

33 Revolutions Per Page

Stalking the Red Headed Stranger

by Randy Poe
Hal Leonard, 276 pp., $19.99 (paper)

A book about song plugging might be a tough sell. But one about how you chased Willie Nelson to far Eastern Canada to get him to listen to a song once recorded by Frank Sinatra – a tale laced with the ins and outs of not only song plugging but the music business overall – now that's a book. Song plugging is about getting an artist, producer, music supervisor, or one of their representatives to listen to a song with the hopes they will record it or use it in some way. Randy Poe, president of the publishing company owned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (who wrote "Hound Dog," "Stand By Me," "What a Wonderful World," and many, many more), and author of 2006's excellent Skydog: The Duane Allman Story, is one of the most successful song pluggers of our day. Here he offers advice on how to get the right song in the right singer's hands. Some of it is patently obvious, but smartly presented for newcomers. Eventually, the story of how Poe got to work for Leiber and Stoller – combined with his attempts and eventual success in getting on Willie's bus via plane, taxi, rental car, and ferry boat (with the help of John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) – is both humorous and completely engaging.

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