Videos by American Songwriter
MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A MUSIC LEGEND By Dr. Ralph Stanley with Eddie Dean
[Rating: 5 stars]
Carter, Ralph Stanley reminds us vividly, was the extrovert Stanley Brother, the emcee; the lead singer, the one with the jokes, the one who was the life of the party, and seemingly the more verbal one, too, the brother who penned so many classic songs. Dr. Ralph himself was, by his own account, shy, dedicated, generally all business, and through most of his life, even through 60-plus years in the bluegrass spotlight, relatively tight-lipped. It was surely worth waiting for him to open up. This late-in-life memoir is a classic— remarkably frank, detailed, revealing, and from time to time it rises to the level of plainspoken poetry. The master of old time singing and clawhammer banjo pulls no punches as he recalls his rural Virginia mountain boyhood, the Stanleys’ slow rise to success, his career restart after his alcoholic brother’s death in 1966, and musicians he played with, from Bill Monroe to Keith Whitley and even Bob Dylan. He settles a few scores, shares his inner thoughts on matters social, political and spiritual, and tells his tale in a flowing, engaging style that’s no doubt also a credit to Virginia journalist Dean.