Stand by Your Singer and Her Art

Jimmy McDonough wasn’t one of Tammy Wynette’s lovers. He didn’t know her, except from afar. Yet he has managed to arrange a tryst with her in some No-Tell Motel of the spirit, achieving an intimacy that many biographers covet but few enjoy. For evidence of what happens when biographer and subject don’t click so perfectly, compare Mr. McDonough’s sweeping yet uneasy portrait of Neil Young, “Shakey,” an authorized book eager to please its subject, with his freewheeling approach in “Tammy Wynette” to the late, lamented, conveniently elusive “Tragic Country Queen.”

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