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M Gira - Stalking the Red Headed Stranger

  by Lisa Torem

published: 16 / 4 / 2012

M Gira - Stalking the Red Headed Stranger


Lisa Torem finds entertaining record producer and music publisher Randy Poe's autobiographical account of his attempts to pitch a ballad, penned by Leiber and Stoller, into the hands of country star Willie Nelson

Randy Poe’s 'Stalking the Red Headed Stranger' details his amusing journey of pitching a ballad, penned by Leiber and Stoller, into the hands of country star Willie Nelson. Inevitably Poe finds himself travelling across Atlantic time zones, as he attempts to achieve this goal after his bosses see him standing next to the country star on several framed photographs. Enroute, he tolerates Atlantic seasickness and barely deciphers thick accents, all the while offering valuable tips on how to be a successful songplugger. Poe began his own career by proving himself invaluable to publishing houses as a lightning-quick typist and all around social butterfly. His perseverance paid off when he became Executive Director of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and since 1985 he has been President of Leiber and Stoller Music Publishing. The Grammy nominated record producer, who also wrote 'Squeeze My Lemon: A Collection of Classic Blues Lyrics' and 'Skydog: The Duane Allman Story', has chosen not to write this story in the standard format of a “how-to” book; instead he uses informative sidebars and easily read narratives to summarise his personal experiences about the hard to access world of the industry. Poe’s remembrances are delightful and refreshingly candid. He is quick to remind his audience that a positive mental attitude and perseverance go a long way. Although directionally challenged, he still somehow locates venues without a GPS, while exchanging creative and business ideas with a host of somewhat zany characters, yet each anecdote and interchange casts a generous shadow on his commitment to the craft he has honed; the one he wholeheartedly wishes to share. ''Stalking the Red Headed Stranger' contains fascinating facts and vivid stories, but it is really Poe’s wit and enthusiasm that wins us over and that make his narrative entertaining, and. although he claims it isn’t “what you know,” it’s “who you know,” this knowledgeable “songplugger” unarguably owes his success to both camps.

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