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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass

     About the Book (from In 1959, the Brown siblings were the biggest thing in country music. Their inimitable harmony would give rise to the polished sound of the multi-billion dollar country-music industry we know today. But when the bonds of family began to fray, the flame of their celebrity proved as brilliant as it was fleeting. Masterfully jumping between the Browns' once-auspicious past and the heartbreaking present, Nashville Chrome is the richly imagined story of a forgotten family and an unflinching portrait of an era in American music. In his "breath-catching, mythic and profoundly American tale of creation, destruction and renewal" (Kansas City Star), Rick Bass mines quiet truths and draws poignant portraits of lives lived both in and out of the limelight.

"Was hers a real life masquerading as a fairy tale, or was it the other way around?" ~ Nashville Chrome

     My Thoughts: Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass is the story of the sibling singing sensation The Browns, popular during the late fifties and early sixties. With a primary focus on the eldest of the three, Maxine, the story details their childhood, rise to fame, and their slide down the music charts which led to the ending of their recording together.
     Nashville Chrome was the term coined in an effort to describe the sound of the Brown siblings from a small, mill town in Arkansas, a polished harmony that deeply resonated with country music fans. The book does more than introduce bygone music to new generations who have never heard of the group. It also serves as a warning about the cost of celebrity and the struggle to stay current in and ever-changing industry where one day you are loved and the next forgotten.
     The reader will experience a trip down memory lane as The Browns cross path with many famous musicians of the time and also establish a long friendship with Elvis, who is mentioned frequently in the book as a friend of the Brown family and referenced as romantically linked to Bonnie Brown.
     We meet Maxine in her late-seventies and in poor health. She has recently broken her hip and struggles with daily tasks yet she still dreams of a return to the stage and the chance to resurrect her career. What Maxine longs for most is a movie about The Browns, a motion picture on the silver screen that solidifies their impact on country music and ensures their legacy. After posting a request for a filmmaker on the bulletin board of her local Piggly Wiggly, Maxine receives a call from an interested young man. While she gets her wish, it isn't exactly like she imagined. For Maxine, having been blessed with an amazing talent was never enough, she needs the recognition and accolades that she thinks are deserving of her gift. Maxine Brown has published an autobiography, Looking Back to See: A Country Music Memoir, that I am interested to read and learn more about the fascinating rise of The Browns.
     Nashville Chrome chronicles a family and their journey through poverty, alcoholism, music, stardom, and loss. Along the way, the Browns experience extreme highs as well as extreme lows, and the reader has the opportunity to accompany them on the ride.

Book Club Ideas: Play the music of The Browns and others mentioned in the book at your meeting; Have members dress up in the apparel of the time such as the popular poodle skirts and saddle shoes of the '50s; Have members research a favorite musician and share the information with everyone at the meeting.

Happy Reading,

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