Michael Corcoran here. 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. I’ve written book/CDs on 1920’s Texas gospel greats Arizona Dranes and Washington Phillips (both nominated for Grammys) and the liner notes for recent Sam Cooke boxed set The Complete Keen Years 1957-1960. But I also do a lot of writing on sports, music, popular culture, true crime, whatever I’m interested in.
I graduated from the same high school as Bette Midler and have been a music critic since I was 19, first for Sunbums in Honolulu.
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
That you never knew which Corcoran would emerge made him a polarizing figure, yet this much is not debatable: His retirement from the Statesman marks the end of an era in Austin music journalism. His legacy- and the unlikeliness that anyone comes along remotely like him- boils down to attitude…
– Andy Langer, June 2011.
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. This is where we have to talk about some awards and acknowledgements.
On Nov. 28, 2017, I was nominated for two Grammys in the album notes and historical album categories for Washington Phillips and His Manzarene Dreams (Dust-to-Digital). It’s the culmination of 15 years on the trail of the mysterious gospel bluesman. 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 historical album.
More honors: Cox Newspapers “Writer of the Year” (1996) and 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. So the 2018 Austin Music Award for best music critic was welcome.
I’ve written two books on Texas music history (All Over the Map and Ghost Notes) and I’m currently at work on a personal history of the Austin Music Scene titled Overserved.
My email address is email@example.com.
P.O. Box 301314 Austin, TX 78703