The Life I've Picked

The Life I've Picked
The Life I've Picked

The Life I've Picked

A Banjo Player's Nitty Gritty Journey
By John McEuen


336 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket

Trade Paper, $22.99 (CA $29.99) (US $22.99)

ISBN 9781613738955

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2018)


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A behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life of an enduring legend and his influence on American music
John McEuen is one of the founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, NGDB. Now 50-years strong, the band is best known for its evergreen bestselling album Will the Circle Be Unbroken and for its gorgeous version of the song “Mr. Bojangles.” McEuen is one of the seminal figures who conceived and originated the fusion of folk, rock and country, a unique sound still hugely popular today. In addition to performing on tour with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and on dozens of bestselling NGDB albums (many of which went platinum and gold), McEuen also has a successful solo performing and recording career. And as a music producer, he won the Grammy Award in 2010 for producing The Crow, a music album by Steve Martin, John’s lifelong friend. McEuen writes candidly and movingly about the ups and downs in his life. Among the highs was NGDB’s tour of  the Soviet Union in 1977; they were the first American group to perform there. Among the downs was the breakup of his family in the 1980s. McEuen is a born storyteller, and his tales of working with everyone from Linda Ronstadt to Willie Nelson to Johnny Cash to the Allman Brothers to Bob Dylan to Dolly Parton to, of course, Steve Martin will thrill every fan of folk, rock, and country music alike.


“Beautifully written, John’s book is an intimate and revealing memoir of a long and diverse music career and the ups and downs of life on the road. We’ve each had a complicated and thrilling journey since our high school friendship sent us off into the world.” —Steve Martin, banjo picker, actor, and writer

“John’s terrific, funny, moving book makes you feel like you are right there with him on some of the most famous stages in the world, in the top recording studios, and on the never-ending road. It makes you feel that an amazing successful career in music and show business is totally within reach—as long as you can play the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and guitar brilliantly.” —David Mirkin, producer, The Simpsons

“Nitty Gritty is one of the greatest bands and gifts music will ever hold. John McEuen doesn’t know how not to be honest . . . as a player or an author. You’re going to love this read!!” —Garth Brooks

“John McEuen was a breathtaking prodigy when he made his bones in the Southern California music scene of the early seventies. This book chronicles the realization of that early promise and the challenges of a professional musician’s life on the road.” —Linda Ronstadt

“The road tales are extremely entertaining, but John’s depictions of off-the-road time spent with family are extremely entertaining too. Compelling, candid, hilarious, and heartwarming, The Life I’ve Picked by John McEuen shows he’s not just a great musician—he’s also a hell of a writer.” —Randy Poe, author of Skydog: The Duane Allman Story

“John McEuen has been a hero of mine since I first saw him flying around the stage with a fiddle at a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band show in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. A key member of that legendary band, solo artist of renown, radio host, producing great projects—all the while touring the world as an entertainer and influencer. . . . The Life I've Picked is a fun and poignant read. I thought I knew about John, but there is oh so much more to learn in this thrilling ride.” —Joe Bonsall, The Oak Ridge Boys

An “enjoyable, conversational memoir.”—Booklist Online

"I wouldn't want to have to count how many interesting stories small, medium and extra large that appear in John's long life in music, but they sure make for one fine book." —Elmore Magazine 

Author Biography

John McEuen has made over 40 albums and hosts an XM Satellite show called Acoustic Traveler.