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Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music Paperback – February 23, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is full of information that I suspect is told for the first time as well as trivia many of us knew but had forgotten: For example, there was a time when soft drinks were called "dopes" in East Tennessee. I had forgotten that and that my aunt wore Blue Waltz perfume. (There is a funny account of Maybelle's breaking a bottle of this dreadful perfume she was using as a slide for her guitar in a recording session.) I laughed out loud to learn that Helen Carter, who could learn to play any instrument almost immediately, was having trouble with her first accordian. It took Pee Wee King's telling her she was playing the instrument upside down to get her on the right track. The Original Carter Family was the first group to let the women lead as opposed to being backup singers. The less than admirable Ralph Peer of the recording industry coined the term "hillbilly" for the kind of music Carters and other country Southerners played in the early part of the 20th Century. There is a good account of A. P.'s collecting mountain songs all over the South. That contribution alone would make him a giant in folk/country music. Finally we learn a great deal about both generations of this great family, from A. P., Sarah and Maybelle to "Mama" Maybelle and her daughters. I was pleased to learn, for example, that Maybelle was as good and kind a person as she always seemed to be.Read more ›
In a number of ways, this is a sad story. Alvin Pleasant Carter emerges as something of a tragic figure. He is also by far the most interesting personality of the three, even if not possessed of the stunning musical talents of Sara and Maybelle. The book comes most to life, in my opinion, when A. P., without whom none of us would have heard of the Carter Family, is at its center.
As a purely human story, Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? -- the title comes from one of the family's most doleful songs -- will keep you reading far into the night. In focusing on the personal aspects, however, it foregoes the sort of deeper musical analysis some of us would like to have seen. It also lacks a discography, which one would have thought essential to a volume of this kind. Even so, this is a welcome, informative book which treats its subjects with an appealing warmth devoid of sentimental gloss.
I wish I could have been in Bristol when A.P., his wife Sara, and cousin Maybelle Carter made their first recording for Ralph Peer. It had to be one of those timeless moments in music history when someone realized that everything that had come before was about to change. Zwonitzer captures that moment and many others for the reader. The story of how the Carter Family was formed, thrived, soared, and then torn apart is a story that beats the heck out of any soap opera. It's a wonderful story, an inspiring story, and ultimately a heartbreaking story. The style of writing is familiar and comfortable, like an old uncle sitting on the front porch, telling you what it was like when the Carter Family was still around.
The best part of the book is the close examination of each of the three principal players in the Carter Family saga: The quiet, never-sitting-still A.P., leaving home for days on end, seeking out new songs for the group while further alienating his already distant wife Sara, the one person he could never forget. Maybelle, who loved performing almost as much as she loved her family. Her style of guitar playing is still studied and imitated by guitarists all over the world. And Sara - perhaps the most tragic figure of all...but I won't tell you the full story. (Otherwise you might not buy the book!)
'Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone' tells these stories so well that when it strays away from the three principal players, I grew less interested. It seemed much attention and far too many pages were devoted to too many minor characters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very comprehensive book. Lots of insight and well written.Published 1 month ago by North Country Reader
I've been listening of the Carter Family recently and saw this book on Amazon. It exceeds my expectation. This is a very fine and sympathetic rendition of the family. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sagebrush
This is a wonderful account of the Carter Family and the beginnings of Country Music. Exceptionally well written by Mark Zwonitzer.
Loved this book. If you have any interest in the Carter Family you will certainly enjoy this book..Published 11 months ago by andrea lea mabbott
this was a gift for a son who really liked it a lot since he plays bluegrass music and admires the Carters.Published 12 months ago by Lois S. Brookshire
An excellent biography that provided a comprehensive time-line of these unique and talented individuals. Read morePublished 12 months ago by LostInSpace