Working Girl Blues – Hazel Dickens biography

Working Girl Blues - The Life & Music of Hazel DickensMichael Roux, publicist at the University Of Illinois Press, recently shared some exciting information about the forthcoming book about Hazel Dickens that is due to be published in June.Working Girl Blues: The Life And Music Of Hazel Dickens is a new volume in the University Of Illinois Press Music in American Life series.

The book is co-written by singer-songwriter Hazel Dickens and country music historian Bill C Malone, a professor emeritus of history at Tulane University and author of Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music And The Southern Working Class, Southern Music/American Music and Country Music USA, as well as the writer of the biography and detailed notes for The Blue Sky Boys: The Sunny Side Of Life, the Bear Family Records 5-CD box-set.

Malone discusses briefly Hazel’s life, her musical career, and her development as a songwriter in the first written biographical study of the West Virginia native.

The core part of the 120 page book comprises a section, entitled Songs And Memories, in which Hazel Dickens comments about 40 of her original songs, explains how she came to write them and tells what they meant and continue to mean to her.

The songs in question are…

Mama’s Hand Beyond the River Bend A Few Old Memories
Won’t You Come and Sing For Me Mount Zion’s Lofty Heights You’ll Get No More of Me
Only the Lonely Cowboy Jim West Virginia My Home
Rambling Woman Little Lenaldo My Better Years
Your Greedy Heart Tomorrow’s Already Lost Working Girl Blues
I Can’t Find Your Love Anymore Scars From an Old Love I Love To Sing the Old Songs
Hills of Home Mannington Mine Disaster Old Callused Hands
Old River Lost Patterns Rocking Chair Blues
Scraps From Your Table Pretty Bird They’ll Never Keep Us Down
Coal Miner’s Grave My Heart’s Own Love America’s Poor
Freedom’s Disciple The Homeless My Love Has Left Me
Black Lung Coal Mining Woman The Yablonski Murder
Clay County Miner It’s Hard To Tell The Singer From The Song
Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There Will Jesus Wash the Bloodstains from Your Hands?

Finally, there is a detailed discography of Ms. Dicken’s commercial recordings and some forty-one pictures.In the Editorial Reviews, folklorist and musicologist Archie Green and Ellen Wright, the co-author of Pressing On: The Roni Stoneman Story, comment ‚Ķ‚Ķ

“A fascinating portrayal of how one Appalachian native navigated the American shoals. Dickens’s voice illuminates the pristine, original, and enduring folk culture of the region and will stimulate readers to ask larger questions about American polity. Folksong buffs, sophisticated feminists, labor partisans, and American and Appalachian studies scholars will be among the enthusiasts for this phenomenal book.”–Archie Green.

“As a musician, Hazel Dickens has an immediately recognizable voice that perfectly captures the grittiness of the songs she writes. The songs themselves reflect the lives and struggles of the mountain people she grew up with and have acted as a conduit through which the whole country gained a more intimate knowledge of Appalachia. In this effortless, fast-moving narrative, we hear Dickens telling–in her own voice–how she is influenced by her life and times. A thoroughly enjoyable read.”–Ellen Wright.

The book will be available in both hardback (ISBN 0252033043) and paperback (ISBN 0252075498) versions.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I’m On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.