Hank Williams: Snapshots From The Lost Highway/folk & Blues/ Country Music Annual 2001/country Roads: How Country Came To Nashville
And the box set begat the book. While assembling text and images for 1998’s ten-disc The Complete Hank Williams, Mercury staffer Kira Florita and historian Colin Escott came across a large quantity of unpublished ephemera that forms the basis for their new book, Hank Williams: Snapshots From The Lost Highway (Da Capo Press). Timed for release with the new Hank Williams tribute album on the Lost Highway label, it offers dozens of unpublished photographs and the handwritten lyrics to 30 previously unknown songs, along with correspondence, posters, and biographical text from Escott’s always reliable pen. Though photographs (drawn in part from snapshots his sister, Irene, made available to Marty Stuart) and graphics are at the center of Snapshots, this isn’t quite a coffeetable book. Rather, it seeks to create a new kind of biography, studying the singer through the steady gaze of the camera, and revealing much. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s nearly as compelling as Williams’ music….
Irwin Stambler and Grulen Landon published the first edition of their Encyclopedia Of Folk, Country, And Western Music in 1969, rowing hard against tides of social change and scholarly indifference. Decades later, Stambler — now collaborating with his son, Lyndon — is still at work cataloguing and chronicling various shades of popular music. The third edition of Folk & Blues (St. Martin’s Press) continues their good work. Encyclopedias are inevitably out of date even before they may be printed (John Hartford is, lamentably, dead, and Lucinda Williams has, happily, a new album not covered), but the Stamblers have long done careful, caring work, and theirs remain among the most useful resources….
Those seeking a more rigorous scholarship will find the year’s Country Music Annual 2001 (edited by Charles K. Wolfe and James E. Akenson; University Press of Kentucky) a useful challenge. Articles range from “The Carter Family’s Rhythmic Asymmetry” to “Oh, What A Life A Mess Can Be: Uncle Tupelo, Bahktin, And The Dialogue Of Alternative Country Music.”…
Richard D. Smith’s well-regarded biography of Bill Monroe, Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass, has just been released in paperback (Da Capo Press)….
Brian Hinton offers a more circuitous journey through Country Roads: How Country Came To Nashville (Sanctuary), but it’s the worst kind of clipping caper. Hinton, who happens to be British, seems to rely entirely on his own idiosyncratic record collection and stacks of published prose to take a meandering, oddly informed tour of country music. What, after all, does one make of a critic who holds Lacy J. Dalton among the elite country singers?