An American treasure – Dr. Ralph Stanley – has just released a memoir entitled Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times. Many people came to know Stanley through his haunting rendition of O Death in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?. But longtime bluegrass and old-time music fans know of Stanley from his days with his late brother Carter when they performed some of the most moving music ever heard from the mountains of Virginia.
Mother Jones online has a good review of the book. Here’s an excerpt of Stanley talking about his childhood:
“There were no books I can recall, save for the family Bible,” he says of the home place. “There wasn’t much in the way of toys and playthings like children have today. My parents wouldn’t allow even a deck of playing cards in the house, because it could lead to gambling and all kinds of trouble. For Christmas, we’d get an orange, one for Carter and one for me, and a handful of rock candy. Maybe a cap-gun, too. It wasn’t ’til years later that I got a bicycle of my own and I had to trade a dog to get that bike.”
Trading a dog to get a bike…that’s a tough life.
More to come…