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When I was a child, I used to pretend I was Jerry Lee Lewis and would blast his music next to the piano. I couldn't play like him but it was fun to imagine. That's what comes to mind when I think of the great Jerry Lee. Just looking at the cover of this book gives an impression of a rebel who couldn't care less of what you or I thought of him.
The fiery pianist is known for his hard living and tumultuous personal life. With his fans rolling down the highway with their windows down and their elbows sticking out listening to the euphoric beats of a new age.
This book reflects on the life that he lived, and that his mama and daddy lived - clawing their way to some existence and hoping that Jerry Lee's talent would carry them. Bragg gets Lewis to relive some really awful things, hilarious things, and other things I thought were awful that turned out to be hilarious.It's a little bit what I imagined riding one of those mechanical bucking bulls would be like drunk, with one arm tied behind your back. It was interesting. Jerry Lee Lewis feeling his way back down through the past is like blindly going through a hallway lined with razor blades.
His whole a torture chamber of his own making. If Jerry Lee Lewis lived in hell, he will look you right in the eye and tell you he lived in a worldly hell of his own making.The most difficult thing was that often a story would end in a very Southern Gothic way. He buried a lot of people that he cared about, that he loved. If you live to be 80 years old, then you're going to bury a lot of people. But he buried people that went far too soon. Two sons just to begin with. That was the first thing. There is tragedy and there is tragedy as Jerry Lee Lewis. But not one time did he lie there and really feel sorry for himself that I can recall.
Lewis recalls the cruelty of the Great Depression, his daddy climbing into the rafters to beat to death a writhing knot of rattlesnakes that had been lifted there by the flood waters.He talks about playing the piano and wearing the ivory off the keys, literally, in the Pentecostal church. One of the most interesting topics was about Sun Records and making Elvis cry.
Jerry Lee's adventure was so real, it was something that lived with him and never left. There are very few dull moments in this book, very few where I think I looked at my watch.
Overall: The writing is excellent. I'm now a Rick Bragg fan. Narration was pretty good, lots of different character voices to go with the moments. I highly recommend for any music fan who want's to see the rocky road to stardom...and tragedy too.
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Would you listen to Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story again? Why?
Yes, for sure and would buy the book too.
Any additional comments?
The only thing missing in this book is the music itself. But with the ease of Google and YouTube it was only a few seconds before we could see and hear what we had imagined along the narration. Totally mesmerizing all around. Great narration and Jerry Lee and Rick Bass both ROCK!
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