Book Review: Twisting by the Pool

Rock & roll summer reading

Twisting by the Pool

The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts

by Billy Bob Thornton & Kinky Friedman
William Morrow, 320 pp., $16.99 (paper)

Of Arkansas polymath Billy Bob Thornton's many talents – actor, screenwriter, director, musician – "Southern storyteller" might be his greatest. A single viewing of Sling Blade, the 1996 indie film classic that made Thornton's name, demonstrates that, but the point gets underlined throughout The Billy Bob Tapes. Longtime local cigar enthusiast Kinky Friedman, a formidable author/songwriter/raconteur in his own right, coaxes Thornton into a recording studio and lets him talk, transcribing the monologues into chapters that flow like Southern poetry. Tales of wild-eyed, impoverished Southern youth in the Sixties and Seventies turn into teenage years spent playing in or roadie-ing for Southern rock bands, which gives rise to a Hollywood power player in anything-but-conventional fashion who uses said power to find an audience for his continuing musical ambitions. Friedman stays out of the way, instead inserting eyewitness testimonials by everyone from writing partner Tom Epperson to songwriter Dwight Yoakam, which make organizational sense of Thornton's monologues. Like everything else its subject and co-author touches, The Billy Bob Tapes rings real and true.

More Billy Bob Thornton
33 Revolutions Per Page
The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts
Late-night Southern gothic from an insomniac

Marc Savlov, June 15, 2012

More Music Reviews
Rock & Roll Books
Seduced By Sound: Austin
Seduced By Sound: Austin – 100 Musicians on Why They Make Music

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 9, 2016

Rock & Roll Books
I Am Brian Wilson / Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy
I Am Brian Wilson / Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy

Neph Basedow, Dec. 9, 2016

More by Tim Stegall
SXSW Music Live: The Sandinistas
SXSW Music Live: The Sandinistas
Clash city rockers

March 18, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Spoon Nite 3
SXSW Music Live: Spoon Nite 3
Local heroes split the difference between the first two nights

March 17, 2017


Billy Bob Thornton

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)