Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse explores the history of Disney and Jazz and how they’re related. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I thought this was an important book to write because I noticed through my personal studies and fascinations with Disney and jazz music that they had an incredible history together. Both worlds were vastly different, yet had decades of historic interactions that were inspiring, surprising, and even controversial at times. I describe it in the book as “two ships continually passing each other while sailing the same sea (or at times even crashing into each other).” I also noticed that although there were multiple books with specific sections highlighting these interactions, there was not one complete book that was entirely dedicated to these fascinating historic intertwinements. So, I decided to write one!
I loved all the bits of history and insider knowledge you provided. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
As a professor and scholarly writer, I put a lot of emphasis on research. All of my writings for various academic books and journals are heavily researched and well-cited. And although I wanted this book to be more of a casual entertaining read (as opposed to the more formal textbook-style writings I frequently publish) I wanted the book to be just as thoroughly researched — hence the 18 pages of referenced research listed at the end of the book. Additionally, I knew Disney had interesting histories with not just artists from the ‘pure’ jazz world, but also from musical worlds that I refer to in the book as “jazz adjacent”. I knew some music purists might argue my discussions of these artists and genres that aren’t on the surface ‘pure’ jazz, so I make the case in the book to explain and defend why these “jazz-adjacent” stories should be included in the book.
What is one thing that stands out in your mind as the best marriage of Disney and Jazz?
Although there were times in history that these two worlds collided with friction and controversy (which this book does not shy away from discussing), the overwhelming thing that became evident through my research was how much affection was shared between the pioneering artists in the Disney and jazz (and jazz-adjacent) worlds. Some of the most successful and memorable Disney works were because of these musical artists, and many of these musical artists described their Disney partnerships as among their most creatively-fulfilling and personal favorite works. I found it inspiring how these two worlds consistently inspired each other.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
I hope readers take away a fresh way of looking at America’s history. Because these two worlds became quintessential entertainment for 20th-century America, their stories reflected the successes (and failures) of a nation. I describe them in the book as “two forever connected entertainment empires that helped define a country, to both its own people and to the rest of the world.” As readers learn entertaining and fascinating stories about the rise of Disney’s empire and significant music pioneers, I hope they take away a fresh perspective of American culture.
The Rock Star Chronicles, by Ray Shasho, is a splendid book written by a music enthusiast who has poured their heart and soul into it. It’s a story of a boy who loved rock music, and his obsessive passion of it earned himself the name Rock Raymond. He went to school but instead was schooled in all matters of music while his peers were buried chin-deep in coursework. He then became a radio DJ and has now compiled a book on all interviews he held with Rock gods who raided the airwaves back in the 70s and 80s. It’s a compilation of interviews with outstanding vocalists, legendary guitarists and crazy drummers in the rock music scene. Each interview gives a reader an in-depth view into their personal lives and the philosophies that guide their lives which all serve to humanize these great icons. For readers who are old enough to call themselves baby boomers this book will bring old memories back to life. Millennials, on the other hand, may think of this book as a literal work of the Carpool Karaoke show.
The Rock Star Chronicles is a book I didn’t know I was waiting for. To come across a book that will talk me into trying something new. One brave enough to incite me to venture into new frontiers. This book made me a believer- I am now a bona fide Rock and Roll music fan.
Ray Shasho masterfully gets the interviewees talking. He smartly coaxes answers from them with crafty questions designed to get a story rolling out of them. The artists talk about diverse issues ranging from music, politics, and their social engagements. Having been on the music seen all his life, Ray Shasho knows the buttons to press, how to get them comfortable about talking about their lives.
The book’s cover is befitting of its subject matter with the leather look offering a royal background to the golden letter print. It speaks to how high a level rock music holds in the pecking order- arguably, modern music as we know it has originated from blues and rock music. The second noteworthy thing is the use of high definition pictures to reference the musician being interviewed in every sub-chapter. This ensures that the book is for both original rock and roll lovers and aspiring new ones. Together is makes for a refreshing and consistently enjoyable read.
I recommend this book to rock music enthusiasts, aspiring musicians wondering what it takes and all readers curious to learn new things by going back in time.
Pages: 573 | ASIN: B082YCD7G6