Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Sing Me Back Home

Sing Me Back Home

Love, Death, and Country Music

Dana Jennings

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




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.


Sing Me Back Home

Hillbilly Fever
Country Music, 1950-70
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...


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

A New Hampshire native offers a paean to country music. - The New York Times

SING ME BACK HOME Love, Death, and Country Music By Dana Jennings - The Washington Post

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

Reviews from Goodreads

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

Fred Conrad

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook