Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jewly Hight's Right by Her Roots on Music City Roots

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 6:23 AM

You'd never believe that a glowing review of a book authored by a Scene writer appearing on a Scene blog wasn't, maybe, a little bit, partial. So I'm just going to say up front that I am completely biased in favor of Jewly Hight's new book, Right by Her Roots: Americana Women and Their Songs and it's great. Even adjusting for my personal prejudices, I think this will end up being the best book written about American music this year.

Through extensive interviews and close listening to their entire catalogs, Hight gets at the heart of the aesthetic drive of eight Americana artists — Lucinda Williams, Julie Miller, Victoria Williams, Michelle Shocked, Mary Gauthier, Ruthie Foster, Elizabeth Cook, and Abigail Washburn. Hight brings to bear her theological and clogging backgrounds, her spot-on writing about music, and a careful consideration of these women as artists, and she turns it into a book unlike anything I've ever read before. I came away from the book really feeling like I had learned something about the careful consideration they bring to their craft, instead of hearing the same old anecdotes I could read in any other interview.

And the thing is, when you read it, it seems so natural, so self-evident that this is a useful way to consider music and music-makers, that it's hard to believe it's not ubiquitous.

Anyway, most authors get book-launch parties. Hight is getting a book-launch radio show. Wednesday's edition of Music City Roots at the Loveless Barn will be centered around Hight's book. Marshall Chapman will be the guest host. Mary Gautheir, Elizabeth Cook, and Abigail Washburn, who are all featured in the book, will be there, as well as the Doobie Brothers, which delights me.

The book's a great read, and the show should be good fun.

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