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A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

by

A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears Cover

 

Staff Pick

Johnny Cash's 1964 concept album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian is certainly one of the finest (and most underrated) records of his career. D'Ambrosio's book A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears, while well-researched and mostly fascinating, is perhaps somewhat mistitled. Though Cash's album, devoted to the vicious and unfair treatment of indigenous peoples, is the pivot upon which the narrative depends, a majority of the book is spent relating the not-unrelated tales of Peter La Farge (a folksinger who wrote five of the album's eight songs), the native rights and civil rights movements, and the reemergence of the folk scene (Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan, etc.). Little room (or, maybe, room not ample enough) is devoted to Cash and his truly singular album. While Bitter Tears was met with a combination of disregard and reproach, the album did meet with some success, eventually climbing to number two on the country charts and 47th overall. There is much to like in D'Ambrosio's book, and it is evident that he is fond of the subject and excited to have been able to write about it. For any well-read music lover, Cash fan, or folk devotee, many of the facts and faces will be familiar. Woven together, the story of converging movements is intriguing, and D'Ambrosio's portrait of an era is vivid and well-constructed. A Heartbeat and a Guitar is not, however, so much a biography of Johnny Cash as it is a memoir of a chapter in American history rife with great change and upheaval.
Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A Heartbeat and a Guitar tells of the collaboration of two distinct yet connected musicians—iconoclast Johnny Cash and pioneering folk artist Peter La Farge—and the album they created, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It also tells of the unique personal, political, and cultural struggles that informed this album, one that has influenced the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

D’Ambrosio has interviewed dozens of Cash’s and La Farge’s friends, family, and collaborators, including surviving members of his band, his producers, and Pete Seeger and Kris Kristofferson, creating a dramatic picture of both an era of radical protest and the making of one of the most controversial and enduring works of political pop art of the 1960s.

Synopsis:

In this work, D'Ambrosio reveals the untold story of the making of one of the most controversial and enduring works of political pop art of the 1960s: Johnny Cash's most controversial album, "Bitter Tears."

Synopsis:

The untold story of the making of Johnny Cash’s most controversial album, Bitter Tears

About the Author

Antonino D'Ambrosio is the author ofLet Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Politics of Joe Strummer; the film version directed by D'Ambrosio will be released in 2010. His most recent film is No Free Lunch, starring comedian Lewis Black. His writing appears in The Progressive, The Believer, The Nation, among many others. D’Ambrosio is the founder/executive director of La Lutta NMC. D’Ambrosio is currently the artist-in-residence at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, NM where he launched the multimedia film project La Terra Promessa.

Table of Contents

A heartbeat : The clouds fall — All passes : only art endures — All causes may here find a place — A guitar : The whippoorwill cries, the fox whimpers — Broken hearts, bent journeys — All God's children ain't free — Grabbing the air for something to hold on to — After : When the world's on fire.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781568586076
Publisher:
Nation Books
Subject:
Music : Genres & Styles - Pop Vocal
Author:
D'Ambrosio, Antonino
Subject:
Popular
Subject:
Genres & Styles - Pop Vocal
Subject:
Country musicians -- United States.
Subject:
Cash, Johnny
Subject:
General
Subject:
Composers & Musicians - Country & Folk
Subject:
Popular Culture
Subject:
Biography-Composers and Musicians
Subject:
MUSIC / Country
Subject:
Music-Country Biographies
Subject:
Music -- History and criticism.
Subject:
Music-Popular Performers
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Social Science : Popular Culture - General
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Composers & Musicians - General
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Subject:
History : United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Music : History & Criticism - General
Publication Date:
October 2009
Binding:
eBooks
Language:
English

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Sheet Music » Guitar and Fretted Instruments
Biography » Composers and Musicians
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears
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Product details pages Basic Books - English 9781568586076 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Johnny Cash's 1964 concept album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian is certainly one of the finest (and most underrated) records of his career. D'Ambrosio's book A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears, while well-researched and mostly fascinating, is perhaps somewhat mistitled. Though Cash's album, devoted to the vicious and unfair treatment of indigenous peoples, is the pivot upon which the narrative depends, a majority of the book is spent relating the not-unrelated tales of Peter La Farge (a folksinger who wrote five of the album's eight songs), the native rights and civil rights movements, and the reemergence of the folk scene (Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan, etc.). Little room (or, maybe, room not ample enough) is devoted to Cash and his truly singular album. While Bitter Tears was met with a combination of disregard and reproach, the album did meet with some success, eventually climbing to number two on the country charts and 47th overall. There is much to like in D'Ambrosio's book, and it is evident that he is fond of the subject and excited to have been able to write about it. For any well-read music lover, Cash fan, or folk devotee, many of the facts and faces will be familiar. Woven together, the story of converging movements is intriguing, and D'Ambrosio's portrait of an era is vivid and well-constructed. A Heartbeat and a Guitar is not, however, so much a biography of Johnny Cash as it is a memoir of a chapter in American history rife with great change and upheaval.

"Synopsis" by , In this work, D'Ambrosio reveals the untold story of the making of one of the most controversial and enduring works of political pop art of the 1960s: Johnny Cash's most controversial album, "Bitter Tears."
"Synopsis" by , The untold story of the making of Johnny Cash’s most controversial album, Bitter Tears
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