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Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothersby Charlie Louvin
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Get ready for one of America’s great untold stories: the true saga of the Louvin Brothers, a mid-century Southern gothic Cain and Abel and one of the greatest country duos of all time. The Los Angeles Times called them “the most influential harmony team in the history of country music,” but Emmylou Harris may have hit closer to the heart of the matter, saying “there was something scary and washed in the blood about the sound of the Louvin Brothers.” For readers of Johnny Cash’s irresistible autobiography and Merle Haggard’s My House of Memories, no country music library will be complete without this raw and powerful story of the duo that everyone from Dolly Parton to Gram Parsons described as their favorites: the Louvin Brothers.
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Satan is RealThe Ballad of the Louvin Brothers
By Charlie Louvin
IgniterCopyright © 2012 Charlie Louvin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMY BROTHER'S KEEPER
My older brother Ira and I were finishing a stretch of shows,
the last in Georgia, and we decided to stop by Mama and
Papa's place on Sand Mountain for a quick visit. Of course,
we'd barely got on the road before Ira reached under his seat
and pulled out a bottle of whiskey, and he drank the whole
damn thing on the drive. When I pulled up to the house,
I stepped out on my side, and Ira just kind of poured himself
out on his.
Mama was out in the front yard, and you could tell how
excited she was to see us. She came running up to try to hug
Ira, but he put his arm out to hold her off. He was wobbling
on his feet, barely able to stand upright.
She knew what was going on. Mamas know everything.
"Aw, honey," she said, "Why do you have to do this to yourself?"
She wouldn't even take Communion in a church unless
they had grape juice instead of wine. She didn't use alcohol
and she didn't understand anybody who did.
She should have known better than to say that, though.
Nothing pissed Ira off like when somebody tried to put a
little guilt on him. "Aw, leave me alone," he said. "I ain't
"You're hurting yourself," she said. "That's who you're
"Yeah, well, I don't remember asking you," he said, and
tried to light a cigarette. He was so drunk he couldn't even
get his lighter to make a flame. "Goddamn it," he said.
"That whiskey don't do you no good," she said. "It don't
do nobody no good."
Finally, he got his lighter to work, and he poked his mouth
at the fire to light the cigarette, but he missed.
"Your father's in Knoxville," she continued. "I sure am
glad he's not here right now to see you like this."
Ira threw the still unlit cigarette on the ground. "Will you
shut up, bitch?"
I can guarantee you the fucking fight was on then. I beat
the shit out of him right there in the front yard. He was lucky
it was just words, too. If he'd have touched her, I'd still be in
prison. Shit, if Papa was there, he might have killed him anyway,
but I just kicked his ass all over the place. Then I stuffed
him in the car, and we drove away.
"I know you ain't asleep," I said to him once we got on the
highway. He was curled up on his side of the car, holding his
busted face. "I'm only gonna tell you this once. If you talk to
her like that again, I'll beat the shit out of you again. I'll do
it every time. You can lump it or try to change it, but that's
the way it is."
"Oh, hell, I didn't mean nothing by it," he slurred. "That
was just that old whiskey talking."
"That ain't no excuse," I said. "Nobody forced you to drink
that stuff. And you'd better not ever do it again."
Then I stopped talking and just drove, fuming. And
I thought about that day, nineteen years ago, when I saw Roy
Acuff driving past the farm in his big air-cooled Franklin. I
thought it must be just about the best thing on earth to ride
in a car like that. Now I was driving down that same road, a
Grand Ole Opry star in an automobile almost as nice, and it
felt like I was suffocating. Like I was being buried alive in it.
Excerpted from Satan is Real by Charlie Louvin Copyright © 2012 by Charlie Louvin. Excerpted by permission of Igniter. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
Born in Henagar, Alabama, Charlie Louvin recorded from 1947 to 1962 with his brother, Ira, as the Louvin Brothers. In 1955, they became members of the Grand Ole Opry and churned out thirteen hits on the Billboard country chart, including "When I Stop Dreaming," "Cash on the Barrelhead," and "Knoxville Girl." Charlie's solo career began in 1964 with the top five hit "I Don't Love You Anymore," and he followed it with twenty-nine Billboard-charting singles and four Grammy nominations.
Benjamin Whitmer is the author of the novel Pike and a lifelong country music fan. He lives and writes in Denver.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This was a phenominal book about my favorite singers during the 50's. You learn what went on "behind the scenes" through the years of making history on stage and in country music. Also learn about other country entertainers of the time and what it was like before all the glitz and glamour of today's stars, when country music was still the real thing.
It was well-written and supplied much essential information.
i loved this book ,i thought it was honest ,sincere and funny .the language was bad but that is the way people talk .I LOVED THEM WHEN I WAS YOUNGER .NOW I LISTEN TO GOSPEL MUSIC AND THEY HAD SOME GOOD GOSPEL
Aficionados of old time Country music know The Louvin Brothers by their great music, their association with The Grand Ole Opry, and because artists like The Byrds, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons and others covered their tunes. But most people are probably aware of them because of their “Satan is Real!” album cover. It makes every list of worst album covers of all time without fail. It is a good choice for the title and cover of this biography. But after Charlie Louvin f-bombs a few times on the first page, the reader knows this is not a fundamentalist religious rant, nor idyllic, rustic hillbilly, show business fable. Charlie’s demons were pretty real, definitely down to earth nasty and in his face from the get go. His story is intelligently told in a straight forward, unapologetic, humanizing way here. You’ll meet Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, et al along the way. If you are interested in that kind of deal, I highly recommend you read this book. I read a lot of musician biographies, and this is one of my favorites.
The Louvin Brothers were the first to master close family harmony. This book by Charlie Louvin tells the story of tough times growing up and tough times breaking into country music. It includes great stories about Johnny Cash and other. Great Book.
Charlie Louvin, who died a year ago, recorded some of the most beautiful and influential music of his time with his brother Ira. It's no secret that Ira had his demons which culminated in his early death, but Charlie was more grounded and soldiered on. His story of childhood hardship and hard-earned success (emphasis on the "hard") puts it all on the page. Charlie holds grudges and spares no one: friends, family, country superstars, least of all himself. If you're a regular Opry listener, you will recognize the names and the behaviors, but Charlie has his own voice and he knows some words and tells some stories that aren't in either Testament. The look of the book is distinctive, too--hard-cover with gaudily-illustrated boards and no dust jacket, it reinforces these tales of grandeur and horror.