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.