Pieces range from brief sketches by artists who’ve been directly influenced by Rodgers, to scholarly analysis of various aspects of that influence, from the direct (Holly George-Warren examines the career of Gene Autry, a huge star in his time, who began as a Rodgers imitator) to the ongoing impact of his legacy on today’s artists. The majority of the pieces are lively and informative, and the issues raised transcend mere biography – the collection’s focus is clearly on the music, not the man. There are occasional misfires – David Sanjek discusses Rodgers' apparent aversion to strong smells, stretching it to a significant element in the fabric of Rodgers’ fame(!) in his otherwise fine essay.
Other contributors range from eminent discographer Charles K. Wolfe, Rodgers biographers Nolan Porterfield, and Barry Mazor, and musicians ranging from Bob Dylan (who launched a record label to record a Rodgers tribute album), Dave Alvin, and Rodney Crowell.
There’s very little minutia here, and editors Davis and Zanes have done a fine job of ensuring that scholarship doesn’t relegate either the man or his music to the dusty confines of a museum. Waiting For A Train, chock full of both opinion and fact, is a fitting tribute to one of the century’s most fascinating and influential artists, as well as an important contribution to the literature of American song.