Believe it or not, I have written more book, movie and theatre reviews over the years than I have written music reviews. In many ways, they are harder to write, as I don’t like giving too much away. If one does give things away, it leaves the viewer wondering why read it or why see it? She’s told you everything. It is different with music….you are not giving away the ending and you are just amplifying bits.
In a biography or autobiography of a well known identity, you wonder what you are going to learn that you don’t already know. You wonder how honest it is going to be and what the balance is going to be between the person and the performer.
I don’t know Troy personally, like I know a lot of country music artists. I have been lucky enough to meet Troy on a couple of occasions and they have been lovely moments. He seems to be a genuine, humble and sweet man.
I have all of his albums and I have been to a fair few of his gigs.
The best part of this life story is the part about his childhood and his interesting multicultural background. I didn’t know so much about his father’s side of the family. His aboriginal side has been more exposed. When it comes to his youth, some misspent, he doesn’t leave too many stones unturned. He is quite frank about things, but changes names here and there and he is forgiving and subtle about certain circumstances and situations.
Family is a major part of this story and obviously, a major part of Troy’s life. It is a strong thread throughout the entire fabric of this book. It is a colourful family, with a bunch of characters going on a rollercoaster of emotions in good times and bad.
Troy’s journey has not been an easy or smooth one. Some people just get out on stage and make it look simple.
The other part of this story that I loved, as will most diehard country music fans, are the stories about touring with The Highwaymen and Merle and by far the best bit is with Brian Young on a 9 month tour. That was an eye opener. I certainly have gained even more respect for Youngie than I already had. I was hoping that he would mention Reba, as I saw him at the State Theatre with her a while back.
Of course, since I am a Tamworthian, I loved the Tamworth bits. I actually saw Troy busk in Peel Street many years ago, so that brought back memories for me. I didn’t know that he actually lived there for a while, and the stories about that part of his life are interesting to say the least.
When I first go to read an autobiography or biography, I go straight to the photos. Photographs often tell you more of the story than words do. The old adage: A picture paints a thousand words, comes to mind. I don’t read the end first, like some people do, and in any case, Troy is still young and there is still a long road ahead for him.
Being a train buff, myself, I loved the bits about trains and the gift that he gave Merle Haggard.
The fact that there is a “with Tom Gilling” in the credits and that Troy says that he made sense of his ramblings, does not interfere with the fact that this is from Troy’s heart and mind. There are lines in this story that I can hear Troy actually saying. Stuie French must have been teaching him Dad jokes.
One part that I will quote, as it will ring true with real country music supporters and not fair-weather fans or those who think that they know all there is to know about country music without giving it a chance is as follows:
It was the night of the ARIAS;
“……because we all knew country music was the poor cousin at the ARIAS, lumped together with kids’ music and comedy. The hosts of the show were having a great time cracking jokes about country music – if you played a country record backwards, you got your wife back and you car back and your dog comes back to life – all the usual bullshit. I was suffering through it because I hated it when people took the piss out of country music. I really did. I remember thinking, come on, guys, get on with it and stop making it sound like we’re buggered cousins or something.”
I think that we all feel that way.
On the back cover, one of my heroes, Paul Kelly, says: “Troy’s a true gentleman, warm and genuine, always a pleasure to be around. He sings straight from his heart and straight from the heart of his country.”
This book will make you laugh in parts, make you cry in others and perhaps open some people’s eyes to the true picture of our indigenous people and not the stereotypes that are projected onto our screens and in the media.
There will be a part two of Troy’s story one day, but there are a few gaps in this one. The end seems rushed. There is a whole section of recent times where things weren’t mentioned that I know were significant in his life and in country music. I would have also liked to have known more about what Troy’s views are on the future of country music, not only in this country but on a world scale.
Troy’s albums, in many ways, tell his story. His songs are segments of his life and of those around him. One of the best bits of the book was when he introduced the words to his songs that related to an episode in his life.
It is an Australian Story, and you can’t get much more Australian than Troy Cassar-Daley. He is as natural in this book as he is on stage or talking to him off stage. There is nothing manufactured or false about him.
The ladies in his life have played a great part. That too, is in a song, most likely my favourite Troy song. He is quick to pay tribute to all of the people who have played important roles in his life and he doesn’t pull many punches. He could have quite easily left out a few bits that may surprise some people, but that wouldn’t ring true, and Troy is not one to say things that don’t ring true.
Overall, this is a multifaceted book that has a few little gaps but it also has great cultural significance and honesty. Troy, who may be known as the winner of 32 Golden Guitars, four ARIAS and countless other awards, massive record sales and admiration from fans and fellow musicians is also a proud family man and proud of his roots and respectful of them. If you are a true believer, you will love this and you will impatiently be waiting for the arrival of part 2.