Long Gone Daddies

Long Gone Daddies

4.0 3
by David Wesley Williams
     
 

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Some nights, we have the road to ourselves and the radio sings only for us. We play our shows and tear-ass out. Tonight, it was this little dive bar in a town we took to calling East Motherless. But we play, no matter. We rock and then we roll. The soundcheck and the fury, the power chord and the glory. Then we load our gear into a muddy-brown Merc with a little

Overview

Some nights, we have the road to ourselves and the radio sings only for us. We play our shows and tear-ass out. Tonight, it was this little dive bar in a town we took to calling East Motherless. But we play, no matter. We rock and then we roll. The soundcheck and the fury, the power chord and the glory. Then we load our gear into a muddy-brown Merc with a little trailer behind, and we're off. Slinging gravel, filling sky with road.

All his life, Luther Gaunt has heard songs in his head—songs of sweet evil and blue ruckus, odes to ghosts, drinking hymns. In search of his past, he hits the road with his band, the Long Gone Daddies, and his grandfather's cursed guitar, Cassie.

While his band mates just want to make it big when they get to Memphis, Luther retraces the steps of his father and grandfather, who each made the same journey with the same guitar years earlier. Malcolm Gaunt could have been Elvis—that white man who could sing black—except his rounder's ways got him shot before he could strike that first note for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. At least that's what Luther's father—Malcolm's son—always told him before he made like smoke when fame came calling and disappeared down south, too.

As Luther discovers the truth about the two generations of musicians that came before him, he must face the ghosts of history, the temptations of the road, and the fame cravings of a seriously treacherous woman named Delia, who, it turns out, can sing like an angel forsaken.

Long Gone Daddies is lyrically written but accessible as a hook-filled favorite song and proves that the people who struggle the most are invariably the most interesting—the most noble—whether they succeed or not.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This lyrical multigenerational musicians tale marks veteran newspaperman Williams’s impressive first novel. Luther Gaunt is the young front man and lyricist for the rock-’n’-roll band Long Gone Daddies, their name derived from an early Hank Williams song. Luther comes from a family of talented but frustrated musicians. His grandfather Malcolm, “a white man could sing black,” was fatally shot in a married woman’s bed, and his father, who took after his father when it came to women, stuck around just long enough to teach his son guitar chords. Inspired by his family’s colorful musical tradition, Luther views his destiny as making it big without losing his integrity and finds a willing ally when Delia Shook and her “endless legs” joins the band. A femme fatale fired with ambition, she seduces Luther, usurps control of Long Gone Daddies, and coerces Luther to write her the megahit song, “I Don’t Melt,” just in time for a transformative gig in Memphis. The historical backdrop, including a cameo by young Elvis as a busboy, adds delightful texture and rich depth to Williams’s fictional account of the early days of rock ’n’ roll. (Mar. 5)
Library Journal
This nostalgic musical tale intones the story of Luther Gaunt, singer, songwriter, and guitar player, as he travels around the South with a rock band. Luther and his bandmates have picked up a beautiful woman named Delia in Texas and she travels with them as they make their way to Memphis to seek their musical destiny. Along the way Luther tells the story of his grandfather who also went to Memphis to audition for Sam Phillips at Sun Records years before Elvis made his name. Unfortunately, troubles with a woman and a jealous husband dashed his hopes. Luther's father followed in those footsteps and still lives in Memphis. Delia demands that Luther write a song that will make her famous, then when they reach their destination, she strikes off on her own. As the novel ends, things have changed, and Luther may be heading off on the right musical road for him in New York City, having reconciled with his father and his past. VERDICT Written as if an old rhythm-and-blues song had come to life, this story and its characters seem somewhat one dimensional. Yet the novel does have an easy charm and readability, and should appeal to lovers of old songs, blues myths, and vintage guitars.—James Coan, Milne Lib., SUNY Oneonta

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780895875938
Publisher:
Blair, John F. Publisher
Publication date:
03/05/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Elvis Presley was a mama's boy grown up strange, a public-housing scourge in pink with an oil drip. But he had those hips and he had that voice. Carl Perkins heard it from over in Jackson and he made fast for Memphis.

They all did. Memphis called out and they came. Memphis was a song on the radio and they wanted some. They came to Sun Records to see Mr. Sam Phillips, and their wide eyes met his wild ones, their pleas fell on his cocked ear. They were young and dirt-poor and not averse to a better life through song. It beat chopping cotton or driving a truck or whatever else they'd done to turn dimes to dollars.

So out of Arkansas came Johnny Cash, sounding like doom looked. He had a voice of deep, swaggering sadness and wanted to sing gospel, but it was train tracks and prison bars instead. Jerry Lee Lewis, all piss and high-test, strode up from Louisiana with a piano on his back, keys aflame, just to show all those guitar players it didn't have to be wood to burn. There were others from elsewhere. There was Charlie Feathers, like Elvis a Mississippi boy. Charlie Feathers—where'd he pick up that name, the pawnshop? But he may have whipped them all with "Defrost Your Heart," a spooky-sad country croon like something out of the Hank canon.

Memphis called out and they came. Memphis was a song on the radio and they wanted some. They came to Sun Records to see Mr. Sam Phillips. He took them in and together they cut records of uncommon scruff and joy.

That's their story. This is ours—my family's. We went to church on those songs, three generations living and dying by the music of Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, and all of the South. They were gifts from the gods, those songs. They were sacred things to us.

And this is the story of another. She went to the bank on those songs, to plunder the music for what gold it might give her.

But the songs know. The songs decide.

Here's one for you. It goes something like this . . .

Meet the Author

A thirty-year newspaperman and native Kentuckian, David Wesley Williams is currently the sports editor at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. His fiction has been published by Harper Perennial's Fifty-Two Stories, The Pinch, The Common, and Night Train. Williams was chosen for Richard Bausch's Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis in 2003 and attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference in 2010, where he studied under Padgett Powell. Long Gone Daddies is his debut novel.

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Long Gone Daddies: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If music, family and Memphis mean anything to you, this book is a must-read. The writing flies high with literary style while the story runs as deep as the Mississippi River.  Long Gone Daddies richly deserved its gold medal in the 2014 Independent Publishers Book Awards for Best Regional Fiction,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago