Porter Wagoner: The name rolls across the memory and into the present like one of those rhinestone-spangled wagon wheels stitched onto his famous stage costumes. With the name comes a blur of images, factrs, and snatches of gossip, like a kaleidoscope filled with sequins.
Behind Porter's glitter and showman's big grin lies a complex personality whose life story—Until now— has never been told in detail. Country music fans are somewhat familiar with the rise of the "The Thing Man from West Plains" from working in a Missouri butcher shop to national prominence on the Grand Ole Opry. Many know that for seven years he gave Dolly Parton immense opportunity on his television show and through live performances and that for nine years he produced her hit records. But the facts of his early life have remained obsure. Until now.
A Satisfied Mind: The Country Music Life of Porter Wagoner cuts through the tabloid gossip to show the complex, adventurous, and enormously methodical man behind the image. Howver, this is no standard country music biography. Reflecting more than three years' research and writing, it is rich in detail and historical persepctive. The pages come alive with authentic dialogue from more than 160 interviews, with Porter himself, with Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Norma Jean, Si Siman (his first manager), and even his school teachers and members of his first bluegrass band.
Porter's relationship with RCA, his financial entanglement with DOlly Parton (leading to lawsuits), and his behind-the-scenes leadership at the Grand Ole Opry have been brought to light with painstaking care and considerable sensitivity. A Staisfied Mind is a rminder that just as country music endures and broadens in its popularity, so do the stories of its legendary characters like Porer Wagoner. Here is a rich story of an unbelievable, sometimes outrageous, and certainly inspiring man and his career.
Steve Eng is a free-lance writer whose work has appeared in Country Music People, True West, Night Cry, The Cumberland Poetry Review, and Goldmine. A regular contributor to Bookpage, The Tennessean, and numerous book and music industry publications, he lives in Nashville, Tennessee. A Satisfied Mind is his first major biography.
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