Sing Me Back Home

Love, Death, and Country Music

Dana Jennings

Faber and Faber, Inc.

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The years from about 1950 to 1970 were the golden age of twang. Country music’s giants all strode the earth in those years: Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, George Jones and Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. And many of the standards that still define country were recorded then: “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Mama Tried,” “Stand by Your Man,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

In Sing Me Back Home, Dana Jennings pushes past the iconic voices and images to get at what classic country music truly means to us today. Yes, country tells the story of rural America in the twentieth century—but the obsessions of classic country were obsessions of America as a whole: drinking and cheating, class and the yearning for home, God and death.

Jennings, who grew up in a town that had more cows than people when he was born, knows all of this firsthand. His people lived their lives by country music. His grandmothers were honky-tonk angels, his uncles men of constant sorrow, and his father a romping, stomping hell-raiser who lived for the music of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the other rockabilly hellions.

Sing Me Back Home is about a vanished world in which the Depression never ended and the sixties never arrived. Jennings uses classic country songs to explain the lives of his people, and shows us how their lives are also ours—only twangier.

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Book Excerpts

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Sing Me Back Home
Hillbilly FeverCountry Music, 1950-70Listen!Country music is the backfire of a rattletrap pickup truck creaking down a dirt road and the lowing of a lone cow. It's music for scouring junkyards, setting out to the porch, and shooting horseshoes. It's tar-paper shacks, shoveling chicken shit for a living, and chugging cheap whiskey. It's TB music, orphan music, and outhouse music. It's potato-sack dresses, loyal three-legged dogs, and water lugged from the well.Listen now!Country is the incandescent keening of Hank Williams and the preternatural harmonies of brothers like the

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Reviews

Praise for Sing Me Back Home

"This book is one of the best things written about American music in the past two decades. Not since Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music in 1986 has a writer so deftly interwoven music history with the fabric of the daily lives of those who listen to — and live — the songs."--William McKeen, St. Petersburg Times
 
"By using the magnificent music of the classic Opry-era as a framework and a style guide, Jennings tells his family’s story with the same sort of sublime grace that allows Porter Wagoner to be melodramatic without being dishonest, or Merle Haggard to be defensive without being an asshole."--Jake Austen, Time Out Chicago
 
“A masterful musical memoir . . . Jennings superbly chronicles the doings of a clan of orphans and alcoholics, cheating wives and battering husbands, boozing, laboring and brawling down that lost highway.” —Rob Sheffield, Barnes & Noble Review

In the Press

Book Review - 'Sing Me Back Home,' Dana Jennings - Review - NYTimes.com
A New Hampshire native offers a paean to country music.
- The New York Times

Jonathan Yardley - Jonathan Yardley on 'Sing Me Home'
SING ME BACK HOME Love, Death, and Country Music By Dana Jennings
- The Washington Post

"SING ME BACK HOME" - NYPOST.com
Country music is poor people's music; it records their suffering. The music produced between 1950 and 1970, the golden years of twang, is "a secret history of rural, working-class Americans ...
- New York Post


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About the Author

Dana Jennings

Dana Jennings, a native of New Hampshire, is an editor with The New York Times. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Dana Jennings

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Available Formats and Book Details

Sing Me Back Home
Love, Death, and Country Music
Dana Jennings

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Faber & Faber
Faber and Faber, Inc.
May 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429996242
ISBN10: 1429996242
272 pages
$7.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
Faber & Faber
Faber and Faber, Inc.
May 2008
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780865479609
ISBN10: 0865479607
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages, Includes a Bibliography, a Discography, and an Index
$24.00
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