A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

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PublicAffairs, Oct 13, 2009 - Social Science - 240 pages
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A Heartbeat and a Guitar tells of the collaboration of two distinct yet connected musicians—iconoclast Johnny Cash and pioneering folk artist Peter La Farge—and the album they created, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It also tells of the unique personal, political, and cultural struggles that informed this album, one that has influenced the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. D'Ambrosio has interviewed dozens of Cash's and La Farge's friends, family, and collaborators, including surviving members of his band, his producers, and Pete Seeger and Kris Kristofferson, creating a dramatic picture of both an era of radical protest and the making of one of the most controversial and enduring works of political pop art of the 1960s.

A Heartbeat and a Guitar is the inspiration for the new album “Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears revisited” featuring a collective of top Americana artists including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, and Kris Kristofferson.

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A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

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Music writer (Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Politics of Joe Strummer) and filmmaker (No Free Lunch) D'Ambrosio uses Johnny Cash's 1964 album, Bitter Tears, to explore the turbulent mid-1960s. He ... Read full review


Part Two A Guitar
After When the Worlds on Fire
A Bibliographical Note

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About the author (2009)

Antonino D'Ambrosio is an author, filmmaker, and visual artist. His books include A Heartbeat and A Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears, Mayday with artist Shepard Faiey, and Let Fury Have the Hour. D'Ambrosio's essays from the latter inspired his feature length documentary feature film of the same name. D'Ambrosio's writing appears in The Nation, The Progressive, The Believer, Salon.com, Moviemaker, Huffington Post, among others. A frequent guest on TV and radio, D'Ambrosio's film work includes No Free Lunch starring comedian Lewis Black. He is the founder of the nonprofit La Lutta NMC, selected by The Nation as one of the top independent media groups. In 2014, Sony Music Masterworks will release Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited inspired by D'Ambrosio's book A Heartbeat and a Guitar. Sony will also release the feature documentary We're Still Here: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited, produced/written/directed by D'Ambrosio. Also in 2014, Zoolook will release D'ambrosio's film Speak the Words the Way You Breathe as part of a film series featuring filmmakers from around the world. D'Ambrosio is currently in producion on a feature length documentary Frank Serpico: Only Actions Count, produced by Gigantic Pictures. D'Ambrosio is the host/director/producer of the forth-coming broadcast series The Free Space. D'Ambrosio's upcoming books include Inside the Touchline, Everything, a collaboration with philosopher Simon Critchley, and The Free Space.

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