The best books roots of social change through popular music

Who am I?

More has been accomplished by music to wake us up that any marches, speeches, injustice, and/or wealth. In the beginning, music and its many forms I followed were an accident. Now I see that music is vital for social expression, intimacy, solitude. The walls in my writing room are covered with photos, CDs, 78s, and most certainly live recordings and books. I feel sorry for the soul(s) who will have to pick through this history when I’ve gone to that Upper Room.


I wrote...

Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

By Franz Douskey,

Book cover of Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

What is my book about?

Tony Consiglio started the famous Sally’s Apizza Restaurant in 1938, made famous by Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis, Lyle Lovett, Andre Agassi.  In 1940, Tony and Frank Sinatra hit the road together, very close friends until Frank passed away. Tony was right there.  The stories come directly from Tony, who was Constantly by Frank’s side, on the road, in night clubs, all night gatherings that included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, Joe DiMaggio, Pierre Salinger, Buddy Rich, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and these parties usually lasted beyond sunrise.  Tony poured the drinks. He never touched alcohol, but Tony said that he used to get stoned on the fumes.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gumbo Ya-Ya

Franz Douskey Why did I love this book?

My interest in music takes its roots deep into Louisiana because the first music was vocal.

Not only music but all literature had its beginnings in the words of history and folk songs. This book brought light into my young life. It was the beginning to understand American culture through its clearly defined early music. I carried various printings of Gumbo Ya-Ya with me through my early travels through Memphis, Louisiana, Como, Mississippi, etc. The book opened my mind to the history, and because of the book, the traveling opened my mind to the music.

By Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer, Robert Tallant

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gumbo Ya-Ya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Sun Records: The Brief History of the Legendary Record Label

Franz Douskey Why did I love this book?

I lived in Memphis during the early 1960. I visited the Sun Recording Studios at 706 Union Avenue, and then 639 Madison Avenue. Sam Phillips created Sun Records. He was the first person to record, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, B. B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, /Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and dozens of other musicians. Race didn’t matter to Sam, even though he lived and recorded in a deep, tough Jim Crow city.

Escott’s and Hawkins’ book captures the remarkable history of that small record label stuck in the depths of the time of mean southern roots. Vital book to dig into the creative, insightful mind of Sam Phillips, and his journey to bring rural, rough-hewed music to a wider, white audience.

Book cover of Hear Me Talkin' to Ya

Franz Douskey Why did I love this book?

This is a story of Jazz by the musicians who made it. Hear Me Talkin' to Ya is a wide study of the Jazz at its source (New Orleans) through the era of Big Bands and into Modern Jazz, from Kid Ory to Dave Brubeck. This book doesn’t have a narrative or authors’ opinions. This book features passages quoted by Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, Lil Harden Armstrong, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Othello Tinsley, Dizzy Gillespie, and a hundred other musicians.

We’ve entered a second era of inclusion. Women now play an essential role in creating music. Add Lizzie Miles, Anita O’Day, Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Mary Ann McCall, Alberta Hunter, and Leora Henderson and we get a different perspective of the evolution of music culture.  

By Nat Shapiro, Nat Hentoff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hear Me Talkin' to Ya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hear Me Talkin' to Ya (Dover Books On Music: History)

"Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." — Charlie Parker
"What is jazz? The rhythm — the feeling." — Coleman Hawkins
"The best sound usually comes the first time you do something. If it's spontaneous, it's going to be rough, not clean, but it's going to have the spirit which is the essence of jazz." — Dave Brubeck
Here, in their own words, such famous jazz musicians as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Bunk Johnson,…


Book cover of Rythm Oil: A Journey Through The Music Of The American South

Franz Douskey Why did I love this book?

Yes, the title is spelled correctly. I’ve known Stanley Booth from our days in Memphis. He has written about The Rolling Stones, B. B. King, Al Green, and Keith Richards. Keith wrote that “The interesting thing about music to me is that music has always seemed streaks ahead of any other Art form or any other form of social expression.” It has never been said any better.

Stanley Booth’s Rythm Oil contains studies of numerous, forgotten musicians and singers. It is a study of remote history. Stanley Booth doesn’t write with ink. He writes with grit.

By Stanley Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rythm Oil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of 20 essays centred on Memphis, Tennessee, and comprising a fusion of fact, essays and fiction in which the author describes his encounters with major figures of American blues and soul music. Stanley Booth also wrote "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones".


Book cover of Appalachian Patterns: Stories

Franz Douskey Why did I love this book?

Tight, vivid writing about the poorest people in America in the richest country in the world. There is dignity and warmth of two sons caring for their blind father, and there is God in also every life, for better or worse. I have to read this book at least once a year to remember what hard times and resolutions are. Every word seems to matter.

By Bo Ball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Appalachian Patterns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories is set in Appalachia and include two Pushcart Prize winners.


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Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…


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