Hazel Dickens, “Hills Of Home”

Often called the “First Lady of Bluegrass,” Hazel Dickens was known for all types of songs, from emotional tunes about love and family to no-holds-barred anthems of protest and dissent. While she recorded a lot of her own material, what seemed to matter to her the most was the quality and message of the composition and not whose name was on it, as she also cut songs by Bob Dylan (“Only a Hobo”), Jim Ed Brown (“Here Today and Gone Tomorrow”), Harlan Howard (“Busted”) and others. She also recorded several albums of authentic, from-the-hills bluegrass and old-timey music with Alice Gerrard, onetime wife of folk icon Mike Seeger, including the recently-released Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969. One of Dickens’ more sentimental songs is “Hills of Home,” from her 1987 release It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song. In “Hills of Home,” she reflects upon how her childhood home isn’t what it once was, how the hometown of her youth is now dilapidated and family members have moved on to look for greener pastures. Such themes were common in Dickens’ music, which often focused on the plight of the downtrodden in the Appalachians, and in the…

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