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, as well as ones that pay the bills. Currently, I’m researching and writing a book on 1920′s Texas gospel great Washington Phillips. But I also do a lot of writing on sports, music, popular culture, true crime, whatever I’m interested in.
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.
Writer Bill Wyman, who I replaced at the East Bay Express in 1988, then got to know in Chicago the next year, was kind enough to write this about me a few years later:
“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
I was named pop music critic at the DMN in ’94 and moved on to the Austin American Statesman the next year. OK, folks who hate my writing- and there are more than a few- will want to stop reading now. Go watch some of your “Duck Dynasty” on the DVR. This is where we have to talk about some awards and acknowledgements.
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). My profile of Billy Joe Shaver won best entertainment feature in the 2003 AAFSE awards and in 2005, my thing on the legacy of trunk-rattling hip hop producer D.J. Screw was voted best feature story by the Texas APME. 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.
Since my exit from the Statesman, I’ve also followed through on a childhood dream of being a sportswriter, covering the Texas Longhorns for the Austin Chronicle in 2012 and CultureMap last year. I’ve also just started a weekly column about Austin for the Arts + Labor web site.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.