Rock & Roll Books

Summer reading

Rock & Roll Books

Nashville Radio: Art, words, and music

by Jon Langford

Verse Chorus Press, 144 pp., $29.95

Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western music

by Holly George-Warren, illus. by Laura Levine

Houghton Mifflin, 32 pp., $16

Apple For The Teacher: Thirty Songs For Singing While You Work

by Jane Yolen

Harry N. Abrams, 120 pp., $24.95

Many have longed for a Jon Langford etching on display at South Austin's Yard Dog Folk Art Gallery, then blanched at the price tag. Nashville Radio might be the tonic for such sticker shock. In some ways, it bests owning a singular piece of art, reproducing 215 of the Mekon's works, along with lyrics and illuminating essays on his past and sources of inspiration. Also included is a special CD of Langford accompanied by fellow Mekon Sally Timms, Randy Franklin, and others performing 18 original songs relating to the paintings. His distinctively styled depictions of country music giants, such as Bob Wills, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash, as well as more ghostly figures (blindfolded cowboys, astronauts, and dancers), are impeccable and, as a whole, Nashville Radio is a work of art unto itself. Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels, meanwhile, presented as children's book, is a treat for fans of country music no matter their age. George-Warren offers brief, complete biographies of 15 pioneers, including the Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn, and George Jones, accompanied by Levine's colorful folk art portraits. Buy this for the kids, but keep it for yourself. Apple for the Teacher, also geared more for the younger set, is equally likely to interest adults. Celebrated children's author Jane Yolen presents charming descriptions of American workers through the ages, from chimney sweep to computer programmer. Each is illustrated with pieces of Americana – quilts, mudvanes, watercolors, and factory signs – and accompanied by sheet music for piano and guitar on songs, both old and new, that relate to each occupation. A unique collection of song, art, and essays that demonstrates Labor Day is every day.

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