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Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass
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Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  195 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Considering the range of stars that have claimed Bill Monroe as an influence—Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Garcia are just a few—it can be said that no single artist has had as broad an impact on American popular music as he did. For sixty years, Monroe was a star at the Grand Ole Opry, and when he died in 1996, he was universally hailed as "the Father of Bluegrass." ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 21st 2001 by Da Capo Press (first published 2000)
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Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This is one of those biographies that, despite the actual prose, still gets at least one extra star just for cataloging information from the life of a famous person. Bill Monroe was one tortured dude, but you really have to read between the lines in order to catch that. It's obvious that this book was written with the stern eye of the Nashville Mafia staring over Richard Smith's shoulder -- this bio pulls more punches than Glass Joe on Super Knock Out; Smith bends so far over backwards with glos ...more
Robbie Whelan
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read, but certainly an apologia for Monroe's shabby treatment of women, several generations of musicians he played and competed with, and pretty much everyone he came into contact with in the music industry. Got the sense that Smith learned a lot about Monroe's orneriness but did not want to tarnish the myth too closely. I did love all the palace intrigue in the Blue Grass Boys about who Bill's favorite fiddlers and singers etc. were at any given time. And the description of the country mu ...more
Anthony Glass
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the more engaging bios of another "all-in-or-not-at all" musicians, like Hank Williams, or Charlie Parker, who just could not stop exuding music 24/7. But unlike Parker, Williams, and others suchlike, , Monroe managed to avoid the self-destructive impulses common among such artists. Makes me wish I tried one of those Loar F-5s at Carters in Nashville last Summer! (One more thing to add to my bucket list.)
Gregory Lamb
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well researched work covering the life and times of one of my musical heroes. This work isn't for everyone, but for those interested in the bluegrass music genre or the Nashville scene, it is a must read!
Garrett Cash
Since last year, I've been trying to go through a loosely chronological study of country music starting with The Carter Family. This study mostly consists of reading biographies of the biggest names in the music, with general books thrown in (A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music, U.S.A., etc.).
Since then, I've read books on the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Grand Ole Opry. Now I've jumped my timeline a little bit, because I just bought a mandolin and I wo
Jun 01, 2007 rated it liked it
One thing I'm learning while going through a series of biographies on old country music stars is that they're all assholes.

This is the rule with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe in his biography "Can't You Hear Me Callin': The Life of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass" by Richard D. Smith. Monroe had a long 60-year career in bluegrass and country music being relatively important for at least more than half of those years and appropriately revered for the last 10 years. He was the progenitor for a g
David Ward
Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass by Richard D. Smith (Little, Brown & Co. 2000)(Biography). Bill Monroe was a start of the Grand Ole Opry for sixty years. When he died in 1996, he was universally lauded as "The Father of Bluegrass." A proud native of Kentucky, he was an enigmatic man. As a young adult, he was gruff, unapproachable, and downright unfriendly. Yet as he aged, he mellowed. He neither smoked, drank, or used drugs; his principal vice was that ...more
Jason Luellen
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a reading and book signing a number of years ago but never got around to reading it until recently. I'm glad I finally did.

I have been a casual bluegrass fan for a while and enjoyed learning more about the "Father of Bluegrass" and arguably the grandfather of rock 'n roll. His womanizing, famous feud with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and stories about musicians he influenced either directly as members of his Blue Grass Boys or indirectly as fans are
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a terrific book. It moved right along and gave detail where it was appropriate and left out detail where it would have been merely salacious and not relevant to the music. There was actually some musical information, e.g., keys played in and harmony notes chosen, without becoming too technical for the non musician. There was a discography and bibliography and a great deal of information about many of the other players in bluegrass music. Anybody out there with an interest in truly Ameri ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
An unplanned end-child in a large family with no one to be a playmate and no one with time to nurture him.
All the people close to him who showed him some care and affection seemed to leave him.
Constantly insecure. Driven. Fiercely dedicated to his art.
Yet he rose to be a well respected, well know musician, vocalist and band leader, a legend in his time. Sometimes called the father of the old style county music.
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Such a fascinating life story, not the best writing style. I got annoyed by the chronological-but-not-quite flow of the book, the constant "little did he know this man would change his life..." revelations, and how EVERY TIME a new person was introduced, we were told all the details of their birth and upbringing. I know that's sometimes important to the story, but please spare me if it's not. Great amount of research, though.
Felice Fox
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bluegrass
This is a fun biography that puts you right in the middle of the action. His writing style has the flavor, pace and old-timey grace of the early years of bluegrass. If you're a fan of the genre, this is a must-read.

I've heard that there was some minor backlash over the author's frank discussion of Bill's personal life, but I was glad for the dose of reality.

Kevin Montavon
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The life of the Father of Bluegrass told in page-turning detail. From his early life in the hills of Kentucky to his early career with his brothers and finally to the creation of Bluegrass, stories of the original Blue Grass Boys, and his long storied career, this is a book no music fan, and certainly no fan of country music or bluegrass should miss out on reading.
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book!
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
A detailed and warmly written look at Monroe's personal life, his bandmates, and his music. I really enjoyed it.
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book for any music lover. The story of how one man created a genuinely American form of music.
Jun 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
5 points - 3. Jerry Garcia (Musician) - Born August 1, 1942 – Read A Fiction or Non-Fiction Book about A Musician or Band.
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