Truckload of Art: The Life and Work of Terry Allen—An Authorized Biography (Hardcover)

Truckload of Art: The Life and Work of Terry Allen—An Authorized Biography By Brendan Greaves Cover Image
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The definitive, authorized, and first-ever biography of Terry Allen, the internationally acclaimed visual artist and iconoclastic songwriter who occupies an utterly unique position straddling the disparate, and usually distant, worlds of conceptual art and country music.   

“People tell me it’s country music,” Terry Allen has joked, “and I ask, ‘Which country?’” For nearly sixty years, Allen’s inimitable art has explored the borderlands of memory, crossing boundaries between disciplines and audiences by conjuring indelible stories out of the howling West Texas wind.
In Truckload of Art, author Brendan Greaves exhaustively traces the influences that shaped Allen’s extraordinary life, from his childhood in Lubbock, Texas, spent ringside and sidestage at the wrestling matches and concerts his father promoted, to his formative art-school years in incendiary 1960s Los Angeles, and through subsequent decades doggedly pursuing his uncompromising artistic vision. With humor and critical acumen, Greaves deftly recounts how Allen built a career and cult following with pioneering independent records like Lubbock (on everything) (1979)—widely considered an archetype of alternative country—and multiyear, multimedia bodies of richly narrative, interconnected art and theatrical works, including JUAREZ (ongoing since 1968), hailed as among the most significant statements in the history of American vernacular music and conceptual art.
Drawing on hundreds of revealing interviews with Allen himself, his family members, and his many notable friends, colleagues, and collaborators—from musicians like David Byrne and Kurt Vile to artists such as Bruce Nauman and Kiki Smith—and informed by unprecedented access to the artist’s home, studio, journals, and archives, Greaves offers a poetic, deeply personal portrait of arguably the most singularly multivalent storyteller of the American West.

About the Author

Terry Allen is a songwriter, visual and recording artist, and playwright. He’s released more than a dozen studio albums since his 1975 debut, Juarez, and his wide-ranging artwork resides in collections around the world, including the Met, MoMA, and LACMA. Raised in Lubbock, Texas, since 1989 he has resided in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife and collaborator, the performer and poet Jo Harvey Allen. 
Brendan Greaves is founder and owner of the record label Paradise of Bachelors and has collaborated on numerous projects with Terry Allen, including Pedal Steal + Four Corners, for which he earned a Grammy nomination for Best Album Notes. A folklorist, essayist, and lapsed art worker, he studied at Harvard and UNC, and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife, Samantha, and son, Asa.

Praise For…

“The Allen family's life has been as much an inspiration for me as Terry’s wonderful art and music. I wondered to myself, ‘How does a creative person navigate family life, and life with friends, with their creative life?’ This book is the instruction manual.”—David Byrne, author of How Music Works

“Brendan Greaves is an unusually deft and perceptive historian of music and art, but he writes with so much heart and verve that after a few chapters, his prose starts to feel like its own song: wild, intelligent, rhythmic, true. His subject here—the inimitable Terry Allen, one of the deepest and most wonderful American artists I can think of—is so well-served by Greaves’s adventurousness and smarts. What a gorgeous, necessary book.”—Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker; author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records

“Blending West Texas fiction, hearsay, memoir, anthropological dig, and journalistic fact, Brendan Greaves has fashioned a biographical narrative that skillfully frames the life and times of the visual artist, singer-songwriter, playwright, raconteur, and beautiful dreamer known as Terry Allen. Only a Truckload of Art could do him justice. I couldn’t put it down.”—Rodney Crowell

“Terry Allen is my hero, and Brendan changed my life when he introduced us. It’s about time they change your life too.”—Kurt Vile

“When I was asked to write a few sentences about this new book on Terry Allen’s life and art, I immediately felt that it was an impossible task. Then I thought about Terry and all the times I have asked him impossible questions and received the most profound responses from him in one or two words. He has been, hands down, one of the most influential characters in my life, and I’m looking forward to having this book to reference and share with friends, family, and future generations who may look to find their way through life in art and music. Because today’s rainbow really is tomorrow’s tamale.”—Ryan Bingham

“Terry Allen is our modern Michelangelo—a painter, sculptor, and conceptualist informed by honky-tonk sensibilities and a singer-songwriter of incisive, vividly-depicted songs who knows his way around galleries and museums. His Florence is Lubbock, Texas, where a local boast was ‘Lubbock has more sky.’ This biography tells precisely how Terry Allen filled up all that empty space. It is the most detailed history of the making of a life in art that I’ve ever read.”—Joe Nick Patoski, author of Willie Nelson: An Epic Life; director of Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove

“Written with the narrative verve of a great novel and a poet’s eye for enchanting detail, Truckload of Art is an inspired, definitive illumination of the life and genius of a vital American artist.”—Wells Tower, screenwriter and journalist; author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

“Truckload of Art is a monumental work that captures the passionate, complex life of an artist whose career blends visual art and country music with unique power. Brendan Greaves unveils the supercharged art and music worlds created by Terry Allen, from his formative years in Lubbock, Texas, to California and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Truckload of Art brilliantly captures the soul of a truly great American artist who embraces his Texas roots and energizes them with his genius at every step of his career.”—William Ferris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues; former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities

“Terry Allen's creative depth has guided his life, leading him to become the great artist, writer, and musician he is. Like a tornado, he has swirled a community around himself, drawn together by his generosity and inclusivity. It is wonderful that Brendan Greaves has written a book that is as complex and compassionate as Terry and as moving and raw as his art and music.”—Kiki Smith

“Once upon a time when I lived in Pasadena and Terry and Jo Harvey were in Fresno, I was there with my wife working at a stone quarry and had dinner and stayed the night with them. We cleaned squid, and Jo Harvey made a lovely dinner.
"The next morning all of us had violent diarrhea and we quickly ran out of toilet paper and then every possible useable paper-like material. 
"When we returned home, I bought and shipped a large box of toilet paper from a restaurant supply store. Terry sent one back painted black, which still sits on my dining table, used as a candlestick holder. 
"Terry and Jo Harvey—friends as long as we last.”—Bruce Nauman

“An endlessly fascinating biography of an endlessly fascinating artist.”—Booklist

In this masterful biography of an uncompromising artist, Greaves follows Allen from his upbringing in Lubbock, Texas, through studying at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where “he found his people,” and on to Santa Fe, where he lives today. An endlessly fascinating biography of an endlessly fascinating artist.”—Booklist

"Truckload of Art more than lives up to the size implied by its title... [it's] the definitive biography of the 80-year-old Allen’s life and career..."—Orange County Arts Commission

"Truckload of Art emerges not as a standard tale of the rise and fall (or fall and rise) of a tortured genius outsider/outlaw, but a patient study in artistic process and memory, the cultural intricacies of the twentieth-century West, and in people, how they scar and save you... Greaves is a fluid, companionable writer... [featuring a] deft interplay of analysis and anecdote..."

Product Details
ISBN: 9780306924545
ISBN-10: 0306924544
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Pages: 560
Language: English