He was 29 years old and had recorded just 80 sessions when he died on New Year's Day 1953. Yet those songs - Hey Good Lookin', Your Cheatin' Heart, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry moulded American music into a new art form, and created descendants that range from Garth Brooks to Beck. But for all that his music reveals, we know little of the man himself. His formal interviews barely filled a page, and even those who claimed him as a friend admit they barely knew him.
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Colin Escott is an award-winning music historian and the author of four books, among them Hank Williams: The Biography and Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll . He lives in Nashville. Kira Florita is the VP of Marketing for Lost Highway Records. Together with Colin Escott and the Country Music Foundation, she co-produced the ten-CD Complete Hank Williams boxed set in 1998, which won two Grammy Awards. She lives in Nashville.From Library Journal:
Although he never made it to 30 and died nearly a half-century ago, singer/songwriter Hank Williams continues to exert tremendous influence on all spheres of popular music. The country crooner also continues to invite biographical treatment. In 1998, music historian Escott (Hank Williams: A Biography) and Florita, former marketer of the Hank Williams catalog for Mercury Records Nashville, produced the Grammy-winning, ten-CD set The Complete Hank Williams. While working on that project, they amassed a huge number of photographs, documents, and published and unpublished song lyrics. That iconography forms the basis of Hank Williams: Snapshots from the Lost Highway, an appealing coffee-table book that is being cross-promoted with the tribute album, Timeless. Composed of captions by the authors and excerpts of interviews with Williams and his family and friends, the text is somewhat sparse but to the point and well written. Rick Bragg also contributes an elegant foreword. Koon's Hank Williams, So Lonesome was first published as Hank Williams: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood, 1993). This second take features expanded biographical coverage and important discussions of Williams's songs. Also significant are the author's attempts to separate the facts of Williams's life and work from the mythology of the musician and his thoughtful assessment of sources. In eliminating the reference-book qualities of the earlier Greenwood volume, Koons has made a significant contribution to Williams literature for fans and scholars. As a pair, these books nearly perfectly complement each other, but, unfortunately, neither contains a discography. In addition, the Escott and Florita volume lacks a bibliography (perfectly acceptable for a work of this kind), and the Koons book contains only a scaled-back one. Despite these shortcomings, both books avoid sensationalizing their complex subject and are highly recommended for public libraries and academic libraries with a popular culture focus. James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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