I want to apologize, Mr. Jennings, and I salute you, sir.
Sing Me Back Home is not a straight forward history of country music. Books like those serve their purpose, certainly, and there are many worthy ones out there already that take that approach.
As most country music historians (and knowledgeable fans) agree, the years from the late forties to the very end of the sixties mark the period of classic country music. The music reached its peak during those years and has faced a steady, downhill slide since 1970 with the exception of a small (and poorly rewarded) group of pickers and singers that refuses to let classic country music completely disappear. But, overall, country music has probably never been in a sorrier state than it is in today. According to Jenkins, in fact, “It can be entertaining, but the difference between today’s country and the summits of the 1950s and ‘60s is the difference between the lightning and the lighting bug.”
But what makes Sing Me Back Home so memorable is the way that Dana Jennings readily fits a member of his own family to every kind of classic country song there is. He lived it – and he remembers it because it made him the man that he is today despite the fact that he sits behind a desk at the New York Times. Song by song, the reader meets members of
For those of us of a certain age, and of a certain upbringing, this book is like preaching to the choir. We already knew this deep down in our souls. But having someone as frank, and just as importantly, as articulate, as Dana Jennings come along to tell the real story of country music’s golden age and how its listeners related to those songs, is a real bonus.
Sing Me Back Home fits longtime country music fans like an old glove. But the book is also a perfect primer for those newer fans who wonder about the country music legends that are barely more than names to them today. In fact, the discography at the end of the book is worth its whole $24 dollar cover price. Those willing to spend the money and time required to surround themselves with the albums and box sets listed by
Despite what David Allan Coe says to the contrary, I do not believe in the perfect country music song. But there just might be a perfect country music book. If so, this is it.
Rated at: 5.0