Michael Corcoran here. I’m currently unemployed and looking to mingle. I took the buyout at the Austin American Statesman in June 2011 and since then I’ve devoted my time to passion projects, like a book on gospel pioneer Arizona Dranes that came out in August. I also wrote the cover story for the most recent issue of Texas Super Lawyers, which paid my rent at the trailer park for three months.
I’m from Honolulu, where I graduated from the same high school as Bette Midler. I’ve been a music critic since I was 19, first for Sunbums in Honolulu, where my colleagues included editor Kathy Hellenbrand, now better known as tattoo godmother Shanghai Kate, future Newsweek photog P.F. Bentley and the kid who replaced me as Hawaii’s youngest rock critic, 16-year-old Punahou senior Steve “AOL” Case. Kid couldn’t hack the rock trenches.
“Readers will remember that Hitsville recently gave an update on the personal doings of another onetime S-T writer, Michael Corcoran. While I was in Texas I picked up a copy of the Dallas Morning News, where Corcoran is now a writer on country. The Morning News is considered to be the best paper in Texas, and this issue demonstrated one of the reasons why: when you have a good writer on hand, you should channel his energies and let him go. It contained a major feature by Corcoran on Houston’s Rap A-Lot records, home of the Geto Boys; Corcoran’s weekly “Country Railbird” column, a collection of sharply observed handicaps on various new C and W singles’ chances of hitting number one; and, apropos of absolutely nothing, his scabrous memoir of Johnny Thunders. My two favorite sentences in it: “William Burroughs has written that junkies look like they’re wearing borrowed flesh, but even face down on tile Johnny Thunders’ skin looked tailor made” and “In JT’s warped and bleary world, the line between vomit and orgasm was erased.” Not bad for one writer’s music coverage at a daily newspaper in Texas.”
- Bill Wyman, Chicago Reader March 1993
My first real fulltime job as a writer was at the Dallas Morning News, where I was hired to be the country music critic ’92, at the height of the Garth Brooks boom years. It was truly an honor to be hated by Brooks & Dunn and their fans. I was named pop music critic at the DMN in ’94 and moved on to the Austin American Statesman the next year.
My first year back in Austin (I wrote for the Austin Chronicle from ’84- ’88), I was named Writer of the Year for the Cox Newspapers chain, but I think that might’ve been because I had moved back to Dallas and they wanted me to stay in Austin. It was a tie that year, so you have to wonder. But I’ll take it. I also made the Da Capo “Best Music Writing” series for three straight years (2003- 2005). Then they stopped coming. Awards are like heroin- euphoric at first, but after awhile you need them just to keep from getting sick.
My first book, “All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music” (UT Press) was released in 2005. Part II is published in this web site. In 2012, I wrote “He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes,” the Tompkins Square label’s first book/CD, which was nominated for a Grammy as Best Historical Album.
The project I really want to get going is a book on the history of Austin music that goes back to the 1800s German singing societies and cowboy songs. Heavy on John Lomax, then Kenneth Threadgill and East Austin blues and the honky tonk and rockabilly of the Skyline Club and Dessau Hall. (Oh, God, then I’d have to write about the Armadillo.) I don’t have a publisher or an agent or anything, but if anyone’s interested in putting this out….
I’m also really looking forward to football season and the revival of my online column, “Game On.” When I wrote it for the Statesman, it was the most fun I’ve had writing since my days of performance enhancing drugs. These days, my sports column is “Hornucopia,” which runs in the Austin Chronicle.