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T H E A L A B A M A R E V I E W 296 gether for peace and freedom on a number of occasions. Beyond racial concerns, sectarianism and revolutionary fantasies among black and white radicals increasingly made cooperation more difficult and played into the hands of federal officials who used the techniques of counterintelligence warfare to thwart them. In an interesting aside, Hall speculates that racial problems might have been overcome had Martin Luther King Jr. lived. Operating from a secure black community base and able to reach whites, King may have been able to provide the leadership to unite the two movements. Though Hall, like most scholars today, emphasizes the grassroots basis of the civil rights movement, he understands charismatic leadership as a necessary ingredient in mobilizing indigenous mass protest nationwide. After the assassinations of King, Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy this type of leadership was sorely missing. This book deserves reading by undergraduates and a general audience interested in contemporary issues of war and peace. STEVEN F. LAWSON Rutgers University Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams. By Paul Hemphill. New York: Viking Penguin, 2006. 207 pp. $23.95 (cloth). ISBN 0-670-03414-2. $14.00 (paper). ISBN 0 14 30.3771 4. Hank Williams defined the emergence of modern country music. His songs were personal tales of love, loss, pain, and confusion, and they inspired generations of songwriters and singers willing to display their emotions publicly. Paul Hemphill’s Lovesick Blues introduces the reader to a Hank Williams who is at once knowable and distant. While Williams’s time on the national stage was short—from his 1947 recording of Move It on Over, which put him on the charts, to his death in 1953—his music in many ways defined the post–World War II era. Hemphill labors to make Williams real. He laces the often heart-breaking stories of Williams’s youth with insight as to how the experiences help shape his music. An unstable home, an overbearing mother, and an early addiction to alcohol defined his genius and caused his demise. By the late 1930s, when he was in his mid-teens, Williams was already using the singing and guitar skills taught him by local bluesman Rufus Payne and used radio to broaden his audience. Ruled ineligible for military service in World War II by the local draft board, Williams worked and sang in Mobile during the boom years of the war. As the wartime econ- O C T O B E R 2 0 0 7 297 omy narrowed job possibilities and his drinking continued, opportunities to perform seemed to wane for Williams, or, as Hemphill writes, he “seemed to have a great future behind him” (p. 42). At the end of World War II he married Audrey Mae Sheppard at a gas station in Andalusia, Alabama. The tempestuous but life-long union resulted in some of the best and most tragic Hank Williams songs. Even after his death Audrey embroiled the family in legal fights over Hank’s physical remains and his musical body of work. Williams’s career began in earnest when he became partner with Fred Rose. Like John Hammond to Benny Goodman, Tom Parker to Elvis Presley, or Brian Epstein to the Beatles, Williams joined with a knowledgeable and savvy manager/producer who nurtured his genius. Williams accepted Rose’s invitation to meet in 1946 and then joined him at MGM records in 1947 where they recorded his first hit, Move It on Over. After a successful summer on the Louisiana Hayride radio show at station KWKH in Shreveport, Williams was ready for the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. Williams’s next hit, “Lovesick Blues,” stayed on the charts at number one for over four months, and when Williams made his debut on the Opry, all in attendance understood they had witnessed something special. Hank Williams’s musical star shone very bright from that point on; he created the “greatest single portfolio of songs ever written by any one person in the history of country music” (p. 97). He used the studio and the stage to document the pains...


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pp. 296-297
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