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Mark Twain: Words & Music

45 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 21, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Mark Twain: Words & Music is a double-CD with a 40-page booklet of liner notes telling Twain's life in spoken word in song. Voices on this project include Jimmy Buffett (as Huck Finn), Garrison Keillor (as the narrator), Clint Eastwood (as Mark Twain), and Angela Lovell (as Susy Clemens). There are 14 story segments and 13 corresponding songs performed by Emmylou Harris, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Bradley Walker, Carl Jackson, The Church Sisters, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Marty Raybon, Val Storey, Vince Gill, Joe Diffie, and Ricky Skaggs. Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson produced the project as a benefit for the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Missouri to commemorate 2010, the 100th anniversary of Twain's death and 175th anniversary of his birth.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 21, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Mailboat Records
  • ASIN: B005MR4P6Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,559 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Albert F. White on September 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am more of a Mark Twain fan than bluegrass/country music fan. In fact, when I saw a sample of this on a recent trip to Hannibal, I didn't know who half the artists were! I was, however, able to listen to the entire CD from start to finish and read through the liner notes. All around, this is a quality project. The music reminds me of "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" and the narration tells a splendid story in just the right amount. The songs selected to accompany the narration were spot on - some old stuff, some new stuff.

This Two-CD set tells the life story of Mark Twain, but not just the nuts-and-bolts of his life, but it tells the emotional story of his life. His love, and his loss. Mark Twain is a complicated character but this CD set captures the essence of who he was.

The liner notes are well done and include pictures of Twain interspersed with notes about the songs and a transcript of the narration. I don't know how the producers did it, but they got Jimmy Buffet, Garrison Keillor and Clint Eastwood to narrate the parts of Huck Finn, generic narrator, and Mark Twain, respectively.

If I have one criticism (and it's a minor one) it's of Clint Eastwood as Mark Twain. Maybe it's just me and too many "Dirty Harry" movies. He did do a decent job, though, and I could really hear Twain speaking through him. So again, it's just a minor nit-pick about an overall high-quality production.

If you like Twain, any of the artists on this CD, or if you liked "Oh Brother" then this CD is for you!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ryconic on October 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD
It is a rarity to come across a project of this caliber. Hannibal, Missouri is and will forever be the Mecca that is America's hometown, and what better way to share it with the world than Mark Twain: Words & Music. You can't experience Hannibal without Mark Twain, and you can't experience Mark Twain without Hannibal.

I was pleasantly stunned to be greeted by the veritable Jimmy Buffett as the voice of Huckleberry Finn, Garrison Keillor as the narrator and the timeless Clint Eastwood as our first American celebrity, Mark Twain. The trio compliments the project with tales woven around an impressive list of artists and songs.

With a wide range of artists like Emmylou Harris, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Bradley Walker, Carl Jackson, The Church Sisters, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Marty Raybon, Val Storey, Vince Gill, Joe Diffie and Ricky Skaggs you won't be disappointed. Each song adds soul to the compilation, yet each song stands alone as an individual masterpiece.

A few highlights: "Run Mississippi," performed by Rhonda Vincent (written by Priscilla Houliston and Carl Jackson), is a hard-driving slice of bluegrass heaven. You feel the spirit of the river and the excitement that Twain must've felt as he steamed down the mighty Mississippi time and time again. "Huck Finn Blues," performed by Brad Paisley (written by Danny Wilson, Emily Hayes and Carl Jackson), is a dazzling journey through the streets of St. Petersburg, Cardiff Hill, Bear Creek and even the moonlit graveyard. After all, "there's only so much sleep a boy can stand when the witchin' hour's so close at hand." "Indian Crow," performed by Marty Raybon (written by Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley), is full of energy and even makes the most somber smile.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mema Cookie on September 23, 2011
Format: Audio CD
It's no wonder this CD took five years to make--it's chock-full of well-known and impressive singers, songwriters, musicians and actors!

Garrison Keillor is perfect as the narrator, and Jimmy Buffet's voice brings Huck Finn to life in the most surprisingly boyish way. Clint Eastwood does a fine job as Mark Twain, but no one could have read the part of Susy Clemens any better than Angela Lovell.

The music doesn't disappoint either. I enjoyed all the songs and can't pick a favorite although "Huck Finn Blues" sung by Brad Paisley and "Better Times A' Comin'" by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are fun standouts. Songs like "Comet Ride" sung by Ricky Skaggs is especially good and so perfect for a Mark Twain CD. Listen to the words and the song and you'll find out why!! Old songs like "Beautiful Dreamer" sung by Sheryl Crow give this CD a nice mix of the past along with songs written especially for the CD like "Ink" sung by Joe Diffie and written by Carl Jackson, Don Poythress and Tony Wood, and "Safe Water" written by Carl Jackson (also the singer) and Jerry Salley. Val Storey singing "Love Is On Our Side" and Vince Gill singing "I Know You By Heart" will bring tears to your eyes. Then there's Emmylou Harris, Bradley Walker and the list goes on and on.

All the words and music are printed in a booklet attached to the inside of the CD's tri-fold cover and includes photos of Mark Twain, Hannibal, etc. The prose is informative as well as entertaining. You'll learn about Twain's life as an author as well as a husband and father. Even if you've never read a single book or essay written by Mark Twain, by the time you've listened to the entire CD you'll know exactly why he's so beloved.

If you're a Mark Twain buff this CD is a must. If you enjoy blue grass and country music you'll want this CD for your collection. I give it two thumbs up!
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Mark Twain: Words & Music
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Price: $19.69
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