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Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians Paperback – 1 Jul 1999
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[ Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians By ( Author ) Jul-1999 Paperback
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Those who read and liked Guralnick's earlier, shorter "Feel Like Going Home" will enjoy this second trip to the well. There's calls paid on Rufus Thomas, "the world's oldest teenager" whose blues-centered dances led to some early-'60s chart success; on DeFord Bailey, a harmonica whiz who was the Opry's first major star until folks figured out he was black; Hank Williams Jr., who lives up to his Daddy's tall legacy with the help of artificial stimulants and his own sense of the blues; and Charlie Rich, who was last visited in "Feel Like Going Home" as something of a straggler but grew into one of the biggest country singers of the 1970s, not that we find him here feeling too happy about it.
The best writing in this collection comprises several chapters on Elvis Presley, who was still just barely alive when Guralnick wrote his first essay here in 1976 and just dead when he wrote his next right after. Elvis was the one guy Guralnick didn't talk to, but you feel his presence in interviews with his old guitarist Scotty Moore and former mentor Sam Phillips.
"He hit like a Pan-American flash, and the reverberations still linger from the shock of his arrival," Guralnick writes.
There's a lot of characters, and some seem more interesting for their uniqueness (Jack Clement, Charlie Feathers) while others seem like misses altogether (who was James Talley anyway, and why should we care?) But there's some arresting profiles of those who made it and those who didn't, plus a sense of what got them there.
"It has to be the only thing for you - the one thing in your life," says cowboy legend Ernest Tubb. Guralnick makes it all seem worth it, for a few hundred pages at least.