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Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs Paperback – March 19, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593765126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593765125
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jay Farrar has been a singer/songwriter for over 25 years. He was the founding member of legendary band Uncle Tupelo and has been performing with Son Volt since 1995. Two of his most recent projects were putting original music to the words and poetry of Jack Kerouac (2010) and Woody Gunthrie (2012).

Customer Reviews

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For me the book was a welcome peek inside the life of an artist I greatly admire.
Glen D. Middleton
If you are a fan of his music, you will enjoy seeing a glimpse into his history and you might even recognize some of the inspiration behind the music.
Andrew C. Williams
You will feel as though you know and understand his life and thoughts through his fluent and literary writing.
James A Speros

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Glen D. Middleton on March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've ever seen any of Jay's solo shows or Son Volt shows, you'll know Jay is a man of few words on stage. He tends to channel his energy into his music and not into onstage banter. "Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs" is much like Jay's stage presence - There's a dearth of words here, but all of the chapters add up to a wonderful portrait of a man who typically reveals very little. This book is not unlike Sam Shepard's autobiographical sketches - Father/son relations, regional observations, life on the American road, the impact of music and musicians on a developing artist. For those looking to peel back the layers of Jay Farrar, there are no great revelations here. Farrar paints his portrait with subtle brush strokes. We don't get the inside story of the collapse of Uncle Tupelo (the chapter dealing with this is written in such a way that, unless you know your Uncle Tupelo history, you might think he was discussing just another band he happened, at one time, to have been a member of) and there are no insights into the first Son Volt lineup or the difficulties he faced in putting the same band together again after brief solo projects. You do get a sense that Jay is not a man given to spending much time dealing with life's crazy dramas.

I never miss seeing Jay solo or with Son Volt when he plays in Northern California. For me the book was a welcome peek inside the life of an artist I greatly admire. I found myself identifying with a lot of Jay's vignettes... having spent part of my youth in New Orleans and having been raised on the country and rock classics he writes about. I, like Jay, find it difficult to say anything worthwhile to artists I admire -- I had that very problem once when running into Jay outside a venue in Santa Cruz, California some years back.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By tootie66 on March 5, 2013
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I thought this was a generous insight to the personality of Jay Farrar. We know he is a good guy. There was no big revelation but touching. It was inspirational for me. The thoughts are still resonating with me; like a good movie a few days later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Ether Rag on June 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was assembled in a great way: little stories, often no longer than a whole page to a page and a half, and very light to no continuity. Each vignette is well-crafted, and often they hit you like a piece you'd hear on This American Life, only shorter. Jay's got a great vocabulary, and he put it to use well here.

The childhood experiences were recalled seemingly from a state of wonder, retaining that whole "world is so big" sense that sometimes is forgotten from other books taken from a child's view. The relationship with his Pop was key to who he's become, and this is the subject of many entries. It was the chapters dealing with his life in music (and it's influences) which are like gold to me, though.

As an occasional (lower-level) musician who never got to do any touring or playing to a large crowd in the thousands, these pieces shined a light on what that can look like. I am now compelled to go through the music of some folks Jay mentioned that I was unfamiliar with, which should be thrilling. There's a piece about a musical hero of his that lets him down during a show that really knocked me back. I've always feared this would be the case with anyone you put on a pedestal, and have passed up opportunities to meet folks that I really dig. Probably sounds a little paranoid, but then they remain untarnished to me.

Anyway, I bought this book at a Son Volt concert in Pittsburgh last week, and am interested to seek out more books like this one. If anyone has a recommendation, let me know.
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If you've read his interviews, listened to his songs, or observed him on stage over the years, the style Jay Farrar chose for his "memoir" will hardly surprise. This is a series of biographical essays, none of them longer than a three minute song, that describe in impressionistic fashion the people, places, and events that have influenced him over the years. Taken together, they give some keen insights into this famously shy and zealously private person. Those looking for a tell-all should look elsewhere; that's not his style, and his various conflicts with his record companies, Jeff Tweedy (never referenced by name, he's the "first touring band" bassist) and his Son Volt bandmates are referred to obliquely if at all. A must read for Jay's fans, but this is not Keith Richards's "Life" or even Bob Dylan's "Chronicles, Vol. I," and those not already familiar with the general outlines of Farrar's biography will likely be lost.

And he should probably watch "Braveheart" again; I don't think he quite got it the first time!
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By Mike on June 25, 2013
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I've pretty much followed the Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco progression and I couldn't find a lot of information on Jay Farrar. His song writing is very interesting when you listen to the themes and perspective. I would have loved to read more material. Jay's writing style is short but introspective and gives you a little insight as to what is going on in his head. I was somewhat impressed with Jay's literary ability and how he conveys his thoughts. It is an interesting read for fans of Jay and his works.
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