Hank Williams: Snapshots from the Lost Highway

Overview

He was just twenty-nine years old and had beena recording artist for less than six years when he died on New Year's Day 1953. Yet the songs Hank Williams left behind-including "I Saw the Light," "Cold Cold Heart," "Your Cheatin' Heart"-transformed him into a legend whose influence is felt as strongly today as ever. But for all that Hank Williams's music seems to reveal, his fans have been given remarkably little of the man himself. Now Colin Escott and Kira Florita present a previously undiscovered wealth of ...

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Overview

He was just twenty-nine years old and had beena recording artist for less than six years when he died on New Year's Day 1953. Yet the songs Hank Williams left behind-including "I Saw the Light," "Cold Cold Heart," "Your Cheatin' Heart"-transformed him into a legend whose influence is felt as strongly today as ever. But for all that Hank Williams's music seems to reveal, his fans have been given remarkably little of the man himself. Now Colin Escott and Kira Florita present a previously undiscovered wealth of private family snapshots, letters, unpublished interviews, and other ephemera-including his final lyric, found in the backseat of the car where he died. Most extraordinary, though, are the previously unseen handwritten lyrics-almost thirty songs altogether. In paperback for the first time, this is a windfall of memorabilia for his fans everywhere."An amazing slice of music Americana....This haunting volume has the jarring effect of a train wreck: You simply can't look away. Country artist Marty Stuart provides a fascinating introduction." -Nashville Scene

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Editorial Reviews

Billboard
Miraculously manages to bring something new to Williams' tale, seamlessly blending cogent text with a treasure trove of heretofore-unseen photographs and memorabilia....This book is sure to be on holiday shopping lists for fans still hungry for the hillbilly genius whose legend continues to loom larger than just about any performer country music has ever produced.
Entertainment Weekly
It's no overstatement to say that [Hank Williams's] ghost lingers in the pages.
Chicago Sun-Times
Many books have been published about Williams, but never one quite like this....[it is] a riveting account of the singer's short life and career.
People
This illuminating 200-page book, jammed with 300 photos, goes far in celebrating [Hank Williams'] extraordinary but tragically brief life....There are poignant letters...and the photos, many of them snapshots, are a revelation.
Sacramento Bee
A handsome coffee-table book... [and] an eye-opening collection... all laid out around an informative text by Colin Escott and Kira Florita.
Nashville Scene
Truly a treasure trove for ardent fans, this volume also functions as an amazing slice of music Americana....This haunting volume has the jarring effect of a train wreck: You simply can't look away. Country artist Marty Stuart provides a fascinating introduction.
No Depression
Nearly as compelling as Williams' music.
Publishers Weekly
When Hank Williams died in the backseat of a car at age 29, he left behind grieving fans, friends and family, as well as eight guns, eight pairs of boots, 11 hats and a saddle. Hank Williams: Snapshots from the Lost Highway by Colin Escott and Kira Florita gathers together just about every last piece of paper having anything do to with country music's greatest and most tragic star (hence the postmortem inventory). Much of the material is new: included in this volume are the handwritten lyrics to 30 songs never recorded or published, private family correspondence and some 150 previously unpublished photographs, including Hank's first baby photo. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306811760
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.68 (w) x 9.78 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Bragg

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.

Biography

Rick Bragg caught his first break as a journalist when the competition for his first newspaper job decided to stick with his current position in a fast-food restaurant. From there, Bragg has moved from small newspapers in Alabama to the likes of The St. Petersburg Times, the Los Angeles Times and, finally, The New York Times.

He eventually won a reputation in one newsroom as "the misery writer." His assignments: Hurricane Andrew, Miami rioting, Haiti, and Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman accused of drowning her two boys in 1994 by driving her car into a lake. In 1996, while at the Times, Bragg covered the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and won the Pulitzer Prize.

"I've really served at all stations of the cross," Bragg said in a December 2002 interview with Writer magazine. "I've been pretty much everywhere. I don't think there's a difference between writing for a newspaper or magazine and doing a chapter in a book. People who think there is something pedestrian about journalism are just ignorant. The best writers who have put pen to paper have often had a journalism background. There are these boutique writers out there who think if they are not writing their novels sitting at a bistro with their laptops, then they're not real writers. That's ridiculous."

[Bragg left The New York Times in 2003 after questions surfaced regarding his use of uncredited stringers for some of his reporting. Bragg's departure was part of a larger ethics scandal that also claimed the newspaper's top two editors.]

Bragg's memoir, All Over but the Shoutin', recounts these stations, particularly his hardscrabble youth in rural Alabama, where he was brought up by a single mother who sacrificed everything for her children.

"In his sad, beautiful, funny and moving memoir...Rick Bragg gives us a report from the forgotten heart of 'white trash' America, a sort of Pilgrim's Progress or Up from Slavery about how a clever and determined young man outwitted fate," The New York Times Book Review wrote in 1997. "The story he tells, of white suffering and disenfranchisement, is one too seldom heard. It is as if a descendant from one of the hollow-eyed children from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men had stepped out of a photograph to tell his own story, to narrate an experience that even Agee could not penetrate because he was not himself 'trash.' "

In 2001, Bragg went back a generation in his family's story and wrote about his grandfather, a hard-drinking fighter who made whiskey in backwoods stills along the Alabama-Georgia border and died at 51. His widow would rebuff her grandchildren's questions about remarrying: "No, hon, I ain't gonna get me no man...I had me one."

The Los Angeles Times called Ava's Man "a big book, at once tough and sentimental," while The New York Times said, "It is hard to think of a writer who reminds us more forcefully and wonderfully of what people and families are all about."

Bragg acknowledges that his language is stolen -- plucked from the mouths of the family members he has interviewed, filling notebooks and jotting stories on whatever was at hand -- the back of airplane tickets, for example. The biggest challenge, he would later say, was finding an order in the mess of folksy storytelling. "Talking to my people is like herding cats," he told The Kansas City Star in 2002. "You can't rely on them to walk down the road and not run into the bushes."

And, then, there would be the recollection that would come along just a little too late.

"The most agonizing thing was to finish the manuscript, know that I had pleased [the family], then have one of them say, ‘Oh, yeah, hon, I just thought of something else' -- and it would be the best story you ever heard," he told the Star.

Good To Know

Bragg brought his mother, Margaret, to New York for the Pulitzer Prize ceremony. She had never been to the city, never been on an airplane, never ridden on an escalator, and hadn't bought a dress for herself in 18 years.

In an interview with Writer, Bragg describes life as a newspaper correspondent: "If I travel for the paper, that means I fly to a city I've probably never been to, get off a plane, rent a car, drive out in bumper-to-bumper traffic heading for a little town that nobody knows the name of and can't give me directions to, and it's not on the map. When I get there, I try to get information in 15 minutes for a story I have to write in 45."

He wrote Ava's Man because his fans wanted to know more about his mother's childhood.

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    1. Hometown:
      New Orleans, Louisiana
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 26, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Possum Trot, Alabama
    1. Education:
      Attended Jacksonville State University for six months in 1970; attended Harvard University, 1992-1993

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2002

    Best Gift I Recieved This Year!!

    I was in B&N,and saw this book displayed on the end of a shelf.I picked it up just to fan through it,and I honostly couldn't put it down.The pictures were so rare,and interesting,plus it has lots of the rough drafts of some of his biggest hits.You can really tell this was a tormented man inside.I stood there for twenty minutes before my wife started getting angry wanting to leave. To my surprize,she told my son about this book,and he gave me a gift certificate to purchase it,(or any other book for that matter). Needless to say,I have really enjoyed this book to the fullest.If you are a Hank Williams fan,this is a MUST HAVE!You will LOVE it!!!!!

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