Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mike Suggests You Give Ol' Hank a Try

Lovesick Blues by Paul Hemphill

For some reason I haven't read many biographies that focus on musicians--what I find to be more worth-while and enticing are the broad brush-strokes of books about a style of music, rather than the day-to-day studio (and drug/alcohol, and love) life that seems to pervade most of the poorly-written musician bios I've come across. But boy, was I wrong to pass this one up so many times in the past. Paul Hemphill's "Lovesick Blues" stands head-and-shoulders above the competition, with its succinct story--but this may be only because his subject died at 29. Abruptness aside, Paul Hemphill's ability to draw as many bittersweet emotions from Hank's life is achieved with as much artistry as is evinced in Hank's own songs. If you're looking for a story that dishes plenty of dirt, this one provides it--but only because Hank was too willing to get dirty on his own. If you're looking for a story that draws you in and forces you to put an album or three on heavy rotation, this will do it for you too. Or if you're just want a book that will give you a new-found appreciation of country music, and of musicians in general, then look no further.

A short aside, I listened to this version on CD, and Jonathan Hogan did a wonderful presentation--his Southern drawl contributed immensely, and for the one song that he sung he did a pretty fine job on it.

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