Working Girl Blues
The Life and Music of Hazel Dickens
Author: Hazel Dickens and Bill C. Malone
The life story of singer and songwriter Hazel Dickens, the inspiring voice of a whole generation of women and workers
Hazel Dickens is an Appalachian singer and songwriter known for her superb musicianship, feminist country songs, union anthems, and blue-collar laments. Growing up in a West Virginia coal mining community, she drew on the mountain music and repertoire of her family and neighbors when establishing her own vibrant and powerful vocal style that is a trademark in old-time, bluegrass, and traditional country circles. Working Girl Blues presents forty original songs that Hazel Dickens wrote about coal mining, labor issues, personal relationships, and her life and family in Appalachia. Conveying sensitivity, determination, and feistiness, Dickens comments on each of her songs, explaining how she came to write them and what they meant and continue to mean to her. Bill C. Malone's introduction traces Dickens's life, musical career, and development as a songwriter, and the book features forty-one illustrations and a detailed discography of her commercial recordings.
"Working Girl Blues puts the spotlight on a magnificent performer whose accomplishments and talents have always been valued by the country, bluegrass and folk audiences, but now hopefully will get the same acclaim from the mainstream as well."--Nashville City Paper
"Dickens comments generously on each song, revealing her strong personality. . . . A fine profile of a roots musician who has been a pioneering woman in bluegrass as well as the foremost American protest singer of the later twentieth century."--Booklist
"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."--American Songwriter
"Inspiring. . . . highly readable and ultimately unforgettable."--Bluegrass Now
"A solid and readable account of a career that crossed many boundaries and defied expectations."--Journal of Folklore Research
"This is an important study of a seminal country performer and songwriter. Highly recommended."--Choice
"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, author of Tin Men
"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, coauthor of Pressing On: The Roni Stoneman Story
Bill C. Malone is a professor emeritus of history at Tulane University. He is the author of several books, including Don't Get above Your Raisin': Country Music and the Southern Working Class.
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