J's Reviews > Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers

Satan is Real by Charlie Louvin
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's review
Mar 05, 12

bookshelves: music-bios
Read in March, 2012

I read this book way too fast. I downed it like a shot of whiskey. I am a book pig, no doubt. Charlie Louvin is a great storyteller and does a fantastic job telling the story of The Louvin Brothers’ rise to fame and subsequent fall. I wish I would have taken my time reading Satan Is Real but I suppose I can read it again, no?

The Louvin Brothers were the sons of an Alabama cotton famer. Their mother taught them a lot of old time, traditional songs, which fueled their love for and desire to get involved in music. Life on the cotton farm was another huge inspiration for them to succeed in music. When he wasn’t tanning their hides, their father was as supportive of their musical leanings as he could be, occasionally bringing home records for them to listen to and forcing them to perform for anyone, any time. With Ira on mandolin and Charlie on guitar, the brothers’ voices combined into an amazing, haunting third instrument that made them unforgettable from the first listen. Something about brothers singing together, the way their voices combine, is pretty awe inspiring. The Everly Brothers are another good example, but there was something magical in the way Ira and Charlie sang together.

The brothers worked hard and gained success through sheer determination and hard work, earning a spot at the Grand Ole Opry and releasing many, many influential songs. The list of Louvin disciples is long and impressive and includes Graham Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Ira’s demons and drinking eventually lead to the end of the road for the brothers Louvin but Charlie went on to enjoy a lot more success in country music.

You wouldn’t have to be a Louvin Brothers fan to enjoy this book. Charlie makes everything he talks about seem interesting. While Satan Is Real is not an exhaustive bio full of facts and chronological accuracy, Charlie hits on what he thinks is important and, in the end, tells the story in a compelling way.

Also, kudos to cover designer, George McWilliams of Meat And Potatoes. I love the fake wear at the corners and edges and the use of The Louvin Brothers' most famous album cover.

If you know The Louvin Brothers, Satan Is Real will fascinate you. If not, you could do worse than to give them a listen. You’ll have a tough time going wrong with any of ‘em.
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