Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times

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Penguin, Oct 15, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages
A giant of American music opens the book on his wrenching professional and personal journeys, paying tribute to the vanishing Appalachian culture that gave him his voice.

He was there at the beginning of bluegrass. Yet his music, forged in the remote hills and hollows of Southwest Virginia, has even deeper roots. In Man of Constant Sorrow, Dr. Ralph Stanley gives a surprisingly candid look back on his long and incredible career as the patriarch of old-time mountain music.

Marked by Dr. Ralph Stanley?s banjo picking, his brother Carter?s guitar playing, and their haunting and distinctive harmonies, the Stanley Brothers began their career in 1946 and blessed the world of bluegrass with hundreds of classic songs, including ?White Dove,? ?Rank Stranger,? and what has become Dr. Ralph?s signature song, ?Man of Constant Sorrow.? Carter died in 1966 after years of alcohol abuse, but Dr. Ralph Stanley carried on and is still at the top of his game, playing to audiences across the country today at age eighty-one. Rarely giving interviews, he now grants fans the book they have been waiting for, filled with frank recollections, from his boyhood of dire poverty in the Appalachian coalfields to his early musical success with his brother, to years of hard traveling on the road with the Clinch Mountain Boys, to the recent, jubilant revival of a sound he helped create.

The story of how a musical art now popular around the world was crafted by two brothers from a dying mountain culture, Man of Constant Sorrow captures a life harmonized with equal measures of tragedy and triumph.
 

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MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW: My Life and Times

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A usually taciturn folk icon takes an engaging ramble through his six-decade career.A founding father of the string-band style most call bluegrass, Stanley—who prefers the terms "old-time mountain ... Read full review

Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Stanley, who became a Grammy Award winner and a legend in his seventies and has inspired the likes of Alison Krauss and Loretta Lynn, opens up in this rare and candid account of his impoverished ... Read full review

Contents

CHAPTER ONE Deep Hollow
CHAPTER TWO Smith Ridge
CHAPTER THREE Down from the Mountain
CHAPTER FOUR Banjo
CHAPTER FIVE Farm and Fun Time
CHAPTER SEVEN Friends and Neighbors
CHAPTER NINE Back to the Mountain
CHAPTER TEN Mercury Rising
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Death Is Only a Dream
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Visions and Dreams
CHAPTER NINETEEN Rebel Yell
CHAPTER TWENTY Bloody Breathitt and the Boy from Sandy Hook
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE The Old Kentucky Foxhunter
CHAPTER TWENTYTWO Professionals and Amateurs
CHAPTER TWENTYFOUR Clinch Mountain Country
CHAPTER TWENTYFIVE My Friend Bill

CHAPTER TWELVE Makin Some
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Brothers Keeper
CHAPTER TWENTYSEVEN Back to the Hills of Home
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About the author (2009)

Ralph Stanley was a Grammy Award–winning American bluegrass artist, and an inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry. He was part of the first generation of bluegrass musicians, his prolific career beginning in 1946. He died in 2016.

Eddie Dean is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, DC, metro area. He is the coauthor with Ralph Stanley of Stanley’s autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow.

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