WORKING GIRL BLUES > The Life & Music of Hazel Dickens by Hazel Dickens and Bill C. Malone

Videos by American Songwriter

[Rating: 3]

Hazel Dickens, of course, is the musical coal mining country “mountain girl” who’s broken more than one mold in her remarkable lifetime.  Not content just to cry in the holler, stick to safe topics or reiterate “pristine” ancient tomes, she’s kicked back in song against every injustice that’s come her way-and she’s mastered musical roles women had rarely been able to go before at all-in bluegrass in particular, but also in  folk, and hard country. This unusually assembled, relatively brief book conveys both the background and the creations of this unique figure in American music, the better to show the relation between the two. Forty of Dickens’ song lyrics are accompanied by her thoughts on the songs and her relating of the story of their conception and performance. There’s a potent, biographical essay on Hazel by that dean of country music historians, Bill C. Malone, who makes you want to hear a detailed discography-and a pack of photos of Hazel with everyone from Patsy Montana to Buddy Miller. Dickens’ lyrics and thoughts on the likes of   “Mama’s Hand,” “It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song” and the book’s title song blend the personal and the political in remarkable ways, and they’re the heart of this substantial story.


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