Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story
Having placed 79 singles in the Billboard country Top-40 (including five #1s) from 1953-1979, Faron Young ended his days in December 1996, alone in a modest ranch home on the outskirts of Nashville.
On St. Patrick’s Day 1970, he gave a South Dakota college girl a ride on his bus, back to her dorm from one of his shows. They stayed acquainted; she went on to become a captain in the Navy, and Young’s biographer.
His is a rich story, spanning the golden age of honky-tonk, women, liquor, ruin and glory, and no small entrepreneurial spirit. (It was some years driving past the Young Executive Building in Nashville before I realized who had once owned it.)
Diekman is scrupulous and meticulous in her assemblage of details (she painstakingly reconstructs the membership of his touring band, for example), and seems largely unafraid of her subject’s contradictions — randomly kind to strangers, periodically brutish to friends and loved ones — and shortcomings. Young’s family and surviving friends seem to have given her ready access and unflinching honesty; Faron speaks principally through regular interviews he did with Ralph Emery on television, which becomes a curious filter.
Diekman is not, alas, a storyteller, nor does she appear to have an ear for the language of music. The facts are usefully arrayed, but displayed with neither art nor passion. She seems unwilling — or unable — to place his music and career in context, to draw the world in which he lived, to render him as more than the sum of many details, few of them revealing.