Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amazon Review

Everything you didn't know you needed to know about Nahville, June 22, 2009

Good, popular writing and lots of insider informatiion. I have been a country music fan for decades and this book helped me feel that I had a privileged look at the way the industry works and who controls what and who. A real pleausre and a book ot hold onto and refer to.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book signing

Signing in Tulsa on Saturday, June 13th, 2:00 PM. Barnes & Noble!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NY Post 20 Best Beach Reads


Review by the Examiner's Jonathon Pinkerton

Nashville biographer Patsi Bale Cox's The Garth Factor much more than a Brooks memoir
June 4, 11:22 AM · www.examiner.com
The Garth Factor/Center Street/Hachette Book Group

When Benita Hill suggested I read Patsi Bale Cox's latest book, The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom, I have to admit I wasn't too keen on the idea. While Benita, along with Shawn Camp and Sandy Mason, did write Two Pina Coladas, one of Garth Brooks' big hits, surely she knows my taste runs more along the lines of female singers. Not sure why, but I have always been drawn to girl singers in all genres. That said, I have to also admit that I have never been a big Garth fan, again, not sure why, just never was a fan. Well, I got a copy of the book and within a few pages, I was intrigued.

Cox, who has co-written bios on some of country music's biggest stars, including, Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Ralph Emry and Wynonna, steps it up with this latest offering. Being a Nashville native myself--there are a few of us around--I thoroughly loved that the book is more than a Garth bio, but also a rich history of country music, and Music City itself. The references to so many places, Third Coast, Maude's Courtyard, Windows on The Cumberland, and institutions like TNN, The Opry, Opryland, are a country fans dream! Of the difference between this and the usual bio, Patsi said, "Autobiographies and memoirs reflect what the artist deems important to them. This book concentrated on what a journalist deemed important about a career. I loved doing both kinds of writing." When asked how long it took to write the book, Patsi joked, "Nineteen years...since I first started writing about his music in 1990." She then confessed, "But in the final analysis, about a year."

The book opens, as a young Brooks makes his first trek to Nashville from his home in Oklahoma to pursue his dream of being a country music star. I was immediately taken by the details of the narrative, the history of his family; his mother, Colleen had herself been signed to Capitol records. Patsi had many opportunities to speak with the Superstar's mother during his rise to fame since the author wrote press-releases, bios and such for Cathy Gurley's Gurley & Company, the firm Capitol turned to for most of their marketing needs. In addition to her record deal, Garth's mother had appeared on The Arthur Godfrey Show in the 1950s. Side note: Having just seen my sweet friend Mandy Barnett starring in Always...Patsy Cline at The Ryman, the reference to The Arthur Godfrey Show popped out at me. In addition to The Arthur Gofrey Show, Patsi said Colleen appeared on many shows and was actually a regular for a while on Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee." Another side note: Ozark Jubilee's executive producer was Si Siman. Back in 2001, I had the pleasure of working with Siman's son, Scott Siman, the head of rpm management. Until recently, rpm was the powerhouse management team behind the success of Tim McGraw.

Garth Brooks & Patsi Bale Cox/photo by Dan Chandwick But enough about my ties to Music Row, back to the book...As Cox points out in the book, "Colleen's career had sometimes been overlooked, mentioned as a mere footnote to that of her son. But at one time she was traveling throughout the United States, building a following and a professional name. Given the right set of circumstances, there is a very real chance that Colleen Carroll could have been a national star."

That passage sets the tone of the entire book. Yes, it's a simple message and perhaps not the specific one Cox intended, but the book is full of choices and opportunities. And Brooks is a master at making the right ones and taking full advantage. The frank nature of Cox's narrative reveals a softer side of Brooks, a fear you'd never expect from an artist who would go on to sell more than 100 million records. An example of this comes early-on when he has made his first trip to Nashville, and after an unexpected event in a Music Row office, he basically high-tails it back home, only to fully prepare himself for the real move to Music City.

I asked Patsi how involved Garth was in the writing of this book, and if he resisted. "No, but I didn't ask his permission," admitted Cox. "I specifically did not want this to be authorized or unauthorized because I felt it would taint what I had to say. He is very supportive of what I set out to do. But he made no attempt to influence it in any way."

The author's unique insight and freedom to tell the story is what is so compelling. Her sources include, "the songwriters, Allen Reynolds, Joe Mansfield, Capitol employees….many, many people over the years and some of them again at the end…not to mention Garth for all those years." Patsi also revealed that Garth's management provided a great resource. "Most of it came from Garth’s management’s archives," she explained.

Patsi Bale Cox/photo by Alan Mayor There are pages upon pages of narrative spring-boards that draw the reader in. Cox is an amazing chronicler, but with focus, so much focus. When most biographers would recall Garth and his father listening to George Strait's Unwound on the car radio, as being a life, and career changing moment, that's usually where it would end. Not with Cox. She then goes on in elaborate detail to reveal Strait's early influences and brings it all back around to Garth.

Another example of her expert storytelling comes about midway through the book, in what I consider the juiciest part of Brooks' career. The controversy with Capitol record executive, Jimmy Bowen, as relayed by Cox paints a fair and balanced look at two very strong, opinionated and successful men. But again, Cox weaves more than a tale of two struggling powerhouses. She goes into great detail about other artists who were signed to the label at the time and the paths their careers took. I particularly enjoyed the quick mention of Reba's Does He Love You duet partner, Linda Davis. As Cox put it in the book, "Linda's legacy for Capitol may end up being her daughter, Hillary Scott, who could often be found in the label's offices, quietly coloring in a corner while her mother held an interview." Readers will recognize Davis' daughter's name, as she is now part of Capitol's mega-popular trio, Lady Antebelum. Of her inside access to not only Garth's career, but country music history itself, Cox explained, " I don’t think at the time things are happening you really “get” how extraordinary it is, how lucky you are. For example, when I marched for Civil Rights at age 18, and published a feminist magazine at age 29–I saw myself as a worker, not a trailblazer. Now I realize what a privilege it was to be a part of history. (Too bad you have to get old to figure so many things out!) I think in country music the thing that has been the most important to me was becoming friends with so many people I admired so much--Johnny Cash, Tammy, Loretta, Wynonna, Tanya, Donna Fargo…Benita Hill!"

While I had the opportunity, I asked Patsi about one media firestorm I remembered concerning Garth demolishing a guitar during his NBC concert, This Is Garth Brooks. I had watched it with my parents, and they seemed stunned that Garth would end a song by smashing a guitar to smithereens. I asked Patsi if the following media upheaval was the desired effect. "Not at all. Rock stars did it all the time. As someone who had worked in the business a long time I was shocked at the sudden outrage at something that had been done so many times." She offered the following scoop with a smile, "Actually, Garth had tried to get seconds to bust and they didn’t arrive. He has always regretted not having them ordered earlier."

It's that kind of humor and honesty that keeps the reader's interest. "I set out to set straight some of the complete BS I had read about him and his career – much of it written by pop critics who would be well advised to spend their time decontructing “Whiter Shade of Pale,” concluded Patsi.

Again, tonight, Patsi will be appearing at Nashville's Davis Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills where she will be reading excerpts from the book, and signing copies for those in attendance. Tomorrow at noon, she and my buddy Benita Hill will be at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Next Saturday, June 13, Patsi will be at a Tulsa Barnes & Noble in Garth's home state of Oklahoma at 2pm. The author is already at work on her next project. She is working with six-time Grammy winning singer-turned-Las Vegas-headliner-turned-Dancing With The Stars-fan-favorite, Toni Braxton. While she might be best-known for her country bios, this won't be Patsi's first non-country subject. In addition to her books with Tanya, Loretta, Ralph and Wy, she has also penned bios on singer Tony Orlando and talk show host, Jenny Jones.

Nashville City Paper

The power of the Garth Brooks phenomenon
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 12:00am
By Ron Wynn

No solo artist in any musical genre has equaled the incredible feats of Garth Brooks, who has sold more than 128 million albums since his 1990 debut and been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as the all-time single act top seller.

Author and longtime journalist Patsi Bale Cox was a Capitol Records executive during Brooks’ rise to fame on the label, and her new book The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom (Center Street) examines what remains a phenomenal event in country music history.

Cox, who will discuss and sign copies of her book at events Thursday night at Davis-Kidd Booksellers and Friday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, says that the single biggest misconception many still have about Brooks is the notion his triumphs come solely from his marketing savvy.

“This whole thing about Garth being this marketing genius is a myth that got spun way out of control many years ago,” Cox said. “First there’s this frequently reported falsehood that he was a marketing major in college [it was advertising], when he wasn’t. Second, Garth in the beginning didn’t really know that much about marketing or business. Sure, he learned and became very savvy about it, but the person who was the real marketing guru at Capitol was Joe Mansfield.”

According to Cox, Mansfield was the person who convinced Garth to forget the widely held notion in the music business that when you have a new album to promote, you disregard the albums and hits that came before it.

“Instead, he showed him the advantages of really working the catalog, of getting everything you could out of not only what was brand new, but everything that came before,” Cox said. “Garth embraced that idea and because of Joe Mansfield, it enabled him to get big sales on all his albums. Mansfield’s role in Garth’s success hasn’t received anywhere near the credit it deserves.”

Cox’s book traces Brooks’ life and times from his Oklahoma beginnings right up to his emergence as a superstar. In addition to noting his overall love for music, Cox cites Brooks’ empathy with women writers and artists and says that’s one of the things she’ll emphasize during her Friday presentation.

“Every female artist and writer that I’ve ever met and spoken with says Garth Brooks doesn’t have a sexist bone in his body,” Cox continued. “He’s never come across with that ‘I’m a star’ attitude or ‘I’m the boss’ during writing sessions. He truly treats women as equals. That’s one big thing that separates him from a lot of others.”

Cox says another key quality Brooks possesses is his ear for talent.

“I remember having conversations with him about some obscure performer and he would light up and say how much he loved that person’s music,” she said. “It would turn out that he heard them in some tiny club or had gotten hold of a cassette from somewhere.”

She also highlights Brooks’ willingness to take controversial stands and champion such causes as gay and civil rights without fear or regret. “Some people are just reckless and do those things without any worries or knowledge of the potential ramifications,” Cox said. “Garth knows the potential pitfalls and does it because he’s always been a champion of the underdog, going back to his childhood days, when he would befriend kids who had been bullied or ignored. He’s always been fearless in that regard and willing to express himself on any number of issues.”

Cox’s volume offers the inside story on many things in Brooks’ life, including the real scoop on the “Garth Brooks is Chris Gaines” flap, his sometimes stormy relationship with label figures like legendary producer Jimmy Bowen, and the evolution of his current marriage to Trisha Yearwood and demise of his previous union.

A well-connected writer who’s previously done acclaimed biographies on such stars as Loretta Lynn and The Judds, Cox avoids dubious speculation and unproven gossip, instead offering documented accounts, detailed coverage of specific events and multiple interviews with key persons and sources.

When asked what figure in country music history she would link with Brooks, Cox cites longtime friend and mentor, honky-tonk giant Floyd Tillman.

“Floyd believed just like Garth that country is a big tent, and both were and are open to new ideas. Floyd was always a honky-tonk guy first and foremost, but he didn’t mind working in some jazz licks sometimes or trying some fresh things. Garth has that same attitude, a lover of country music first, but still willing to include some different things in the music as well.”

Cox, whose next project will be on R&B and urban music sensation Toni Braxton, says she anticipates Brooks will someday return to the Nashville scene, though in a different role.

“I see him as eventually spending a lot of time working with new artists and using Jack’s Tracks [the recording studio owned by Brooks] as a place where some fresh voices get developed and some excellent recordings made,” Cox concluded. “Who knows, he may find another talent of the magnitude of Trisha or Martina (McBride). If anyone could do it, Garth Brooks would be that person.”

What: Author Patsi Bale Cox discusses and signs copies of her new book The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and noon Friday
Where: Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 2121 Green Hills Village (Thursday); The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 Fifth Ave. S. (Friday)
Cost: Free and open to the public
Info: 385-2645, daviskidd.com (Thursday); 416-2001, countrymusichalloffame.com (Friday)

Country Music Examiner Review

Music Row insider delivers new book, free June 5 talk about superstar Garth Brooks
June 4, 12:52 AM · by Lisa Rollins

Released May 28, 2009, Cox's book boasts an insider's perspective.Nashville-based biographer Patsi Bale Cox and her brand-new book, Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom, will be at the center of a free event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Book Talk: The Garth Factor will be presented by the local museum, 222 Fifth Ave. South, beginning at noon June 5, with the best-selling author as the featured guest.

In the Garth Factor, Cox draws on her decadelong relationship with the Oklahoma native to presents a portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of music’s best-selling solo artist and how he challenged the status quo of Nashville’s recording industry while creating a rising tide for all of country music during the genre’s peak in the 1990s.

Utilizing her insider knowledge from time spent working for Brooks’ former label, Capitol Records, Cox contrasts the performer’s quicksilver ascension with that of the industry as a whole, concluding that Brooks deserves credit for country’s unprecedented boon. And she doesn’t sidestep the friction between Brooks and his one-time label.

“It is a misconception that Nashville’s stars are the ones on the stage,” she asserts in the Garth Factor. “Inside the town’s business the real stars are the personalities who run record labels. They control artists and they control the music.”

Published by Center Street ($24.99), the Garth Factor chronicles Brooks’ life from birth to the present, and along the way, dishes out a bit of “boardroom drama” that demonstrates, she has said, why the Oklahoman who moved to Music City in ’85 did so cautiously upon the advisement of mom Colleen, a one-time singer who realized the pitfalls of the music business.

Garth Brooks and author Patsi Bale Cox in '90.Although Brooks was only one of a slew of hat acts who hit town at the time, Cox—who’s also inked books on Wynonna Judd, Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker—pens that he eclipsed the competition and broke records only to categorized as a bully by record execs, including former Capitol Records label chief Jimmy Bowen, who wrote about Brooks in his 1997 autobiography titled Rough Mix.

The real truth, Cox contends, is that Bowen’s antipathy toward Brooks probably resulted from a new contract that was negotiated above Bowen’s head with his bosses in New York—a deal that was unprecedented for Nashville and more on par with contracts for the likes of Madonna or Michael Jackson.

Cox also touches on more recent life events for Brooks, including having to confront the death of his mother, negative reviews for the “Chris Gaines” project and a crumbling marriage, as well as his 1999 retirement so that he could be more present in the lives of his three daughters and his 2005 marriage to country artist Trisha Yearwood.

Since his retirement, Cox reports, Brooks has sold an additional 28 million records, released new music and been involved in numerous other projects and performances. And industry-wise, she notes, country music sales have taken a huge slide, with a slight rebound in 2004; thus, Brooks’ contributions to Nashville are still evident. (She also hints about what Brooks hopes to do in the future as far as the music biz is concerned.)

“He brought country music concerts to new energy standards, seen now in so many concert tours, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, to name but a few,” she writes. “He also pumped up Nashville’s writing community, bringing so many great songwriters to the attention of the industry. … He also greatly broadened the scope of song subjects.”

Cox’s conclusion? “When all is said and done,” she observes, “Garth proved that country music is not only a big tent, but that expansion does not necessarily mean dilution.”

Museum info: The downtown Nashville museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and The Museum Store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. General admission is $19.99 for adults, $11.99 for children ages 6-17 and free for children under 6. The museum offers discounted admission ($17.99) to seniors (60 and older), the military and students (with valid IDs). Group rates are available for tours of 15 or more. There is no charge to visit the Curb Conservatory or the Museum Store. For more information, access www.countrymusichalloffame.com or call 615-416-2001.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

About.com Review


Patsi Bale Cox - 'The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom'

From Jennifer Webb, for About.com

Bottom Line:
From the first trip made to Nashville in 1985, through the present-day state of his career, Garth Brooks managed to take not only the country music genre by storm but the music industry as a whole. Patsi Bale Cox has done a wonderful job documenting the process using a style that's both informative and entertaining. That's no easy task, but she's managed to find that happy medium readers will be able to appreciate.

It's All About Balance
A re-occurring theme found throughout the pages of The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom is that Garth Brooks has always been consistent in his actions and has never shown himself as being too big-headed and full of himself. This fact goes for his career and personal life. He had his share of ups and downs, but I think the way he handled them all made him the superstar he is. If he had not remained such a grounded person, there would have been no way he could have made it through such high times without being virtually unscathed. Not only did the artist look after himself and his own family, but also he quietly took care of close friends and others who surrounded him. For a superstar to take the time to recognize those who have helped him along the way is an impressive feat.

Garth Brooks' Career
The subject of Garth's career is a big one in this book and there is a lot of ground covered. With any profession there are the inevitable ups and downs or variable roller coasters. There was no way Garth would walk away with a flawless collection of years in the spotlight. Though he's sold millions of albums, received numerous awards, sold out many concerts, and even played for the largest crowd in New York Central Park's history, there have also been infidelity rumors, video controversies ("Thunder Rolls"), and even people at his own record label trying to change the way he went about making his music. What tells a lot about a person is how they handle the calm and the storm. Garth has been able to gracefully stand up for himself and prove that he never plans on changing the person he is - no matter who tells him otherwise.

A Few Interesting Facts:
• Garth Brooks made sure that his band members were paid on the basis of a salary.
• Band members were also provided with medical insurance.
• During a time when a label head was making negative comments to and about staffers, Garth held a meeting with the staff to hear what they had to say and see if he could make things better.
• Even though the "Thunder Rolls" video controversy sparked many supporters and donations for abused women causes, Garth often felt the song itself was overshadowed and regretted that fact.
• Before each major concert gig, Garth would spend hours sitting in seats throughout the stadium/arena in order to ensure the best possible show for anyone who attended.
• Through Garth's entire career he has always kept his fans first and foremost in his heart while considering the music he records.

Behind the Scenes Knowledge
The most fascinating thing about The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom is the breadth of knowledge readers get about the music business and various goings-on that most regular folks aren't privy to. Although the general idea is to get a better picture of Garth's beginnings and then rise to superstardom, Patsi Bale Cox did a great job of keeping it interesting by talking about the people who Garth not only got along with, but those who seemed to clash with him when in the same room. Being let in on the small details is wonderful for not only fans but I would also say those who want to be in the business. That statement goes for future music acts, promotional staffers, a secretary position and everything in-between. The good and bad parts of things - as Garth experienced them - are all laid out on the table without any nonsense. Good advice and words of wisdom can be found in varying degrees within each chapter.

Release date: May 28, 2009 - Center Street

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review of The Garth Factor

By Mahlon Christensen
Goodreads/Amazon.com Reviewer

In The Garth Factor, Patsi Bale Cox chronicles the highs and lows in Garth Brooks roller coaster ride to becoming the biggest selling recording artist of all time. In the process she sets straight many misconceptions that have plagued Garth for much of his career. Through interviews with many of the musicians, songwriters and executives integral to Garth's success you'll get a behind the scenes look at how his music was recorded and marketed. You'll also learn the stories behind your favorite Garth Brooks songs. Long-time fans who've followed Garth's career closely may think they know all there is to know about the major confrontations that Garth had with various music row executives and other industry insiders, but I can guarantee that they will be surprised by the perspective Bale Cox offers on these major controversies. Fans will feel that they understand Garth better both professionally and personally after they've finished this book.

The author not only offers the reader an in-depth analysis of Brooks career, she also places it in the context of everything going on along music row at the time, discussing both artists who influenced Garth,as well as the careers of many of his "Class of '89" contemporaries,and also the next generation of performers who have risen to prominence in the wake of his retirement. In short, she paints a comprehensive picture of Country Music in the '90's. It's this aspect of The Garth Factor that lifts it above the realm of mere Biography and makes it a work of serious scholarship. This book is is essential reading for every serious student of the genre, and even casual fans of Garth, or those who came of age listening to Country Music in the last two decades will find much to enjoy.