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Lay Down Your Weary Tune

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In this debut novel, a ghostwriter of the memoirs of a reclusive folk music icon—part Woody Guthrie, part Bob Dylan—attempts to glean fact from fiction, only to discover the deeper he digs into the musician’s past, the more his own past rises to the surface

Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in go
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Other Press
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator of this book is Jack Wyeth, who first met folk hero, Eli Page, when he was working as a stagehand. His encounter with this famous, counterculture icon, changed his life and Jack decided to follow his footsteps as a musician. Years later, Jack Wyeth is a failed musician, a sporadic music journalist, who blogs about his life and is reduced to sleeping on a campbed in a friend’s basement.

His life, however, is about to change when he receives a call from Eli Page’s manager, asking him t
J.D. Spero
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A young man who's made his own share of mistakes gets an opportunity to hit reset on his life by way of ghostwriting a memoir for one of his folk singer idols. Getting to the heart of the matter, however, is always complicated -- and forces him to shift his search for answers to look within himself. This book is one that holds on and will not let go. The characters are so real, you're obliged to google them to make sure they're truly fictional. I also loved the Saratoga Springs/upstate New York ...more
Steve Gillway
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wheels within wheels. This is a tale like an old folk song and the song remains the same. We are in the mind of an impressionistic drifter given a chance to ghostwrite the biography of his hero/ touchstone. It raises some great questions like What do you want from your heroes? What does the "hero" want to come out? This provides an interesting jaunt around the counterculture of the 60s, but the author catches the spirit of the town particularly the sense of place. ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
This is a book that filled me with nostalgia. Everything about it seemed so accurate .... the town, the environment, the people, the protest era. It all seemed right. The story was interesting but it was that wistfulness of the past that really made me enjoy this book. I hope there is another book in Mr. Belcher's future.
Dianne Winter
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Truly loved it. A lot of wonderfully realistic, wounded people. No setting could be better for their stories to unfold and intertwine than the world of folk music.

"everything was perfect and everything was perfectly broken"
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Novel took a while to pull me in but I ended up really liking it. You think its about the folk music scene & an aging, addled musician- but its about damaged people trying to find/heal themselves. Plus there's mysteries to be solved in the various plot-lines. Recommend. ...more
Jeniece Goellner
A dim smoke filled room, a battered old guitar, and a weathered voice wailing a solemn song...images that can compare to this novel. All worn yet dignified. The slow pace meanders in and out of focus as the story unfolds slowly to us, much like a waning song that manages to stay with you after the final note rings out, fading into silence. I enjoyed the book. The vivid love and respect for the setting, both of place and music genre, was clearly evident. There was great care taken describing icon ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I was intrigued by this novel about a folk singer and a young writer's searching for the man behind the mask. The great cover was another incentive!

Jack Wyeth's youthful idolization of protest folk singer Eli Page lead him to discard a conventional life of college and career to pursue music. Now at thirty years old, his music career non-existent, Jack blogs about folk music and sleeps on his married friend's couch. Then he gets an unexpected call offering the chance of a lifetime: Eli Page, now
Sid Nuncius
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's not quite what I expected and it has its flaws, but it kept me reading and has some good moments.

The book is narrated in the first person by Jack Wyeth, a musician and writer who isn't very successful at either and is lost and adrift in life. Out of the blue comes an invitation to ghost-write the autobiography of Eli Page, a Dylan-like hero figure to Jack, whose songs were hugely popular decades ago but who is now a damaged virtual recluse in a small New Englan
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heal the past and let the stories unfold

I had the opportunity to hear W.B. discuss the writing process behind LDYWT and read some excerpts. At the time, I was only a third of the way into the story, enough to have understanding, but not really knowing what I was in for. On a flight across country, this book was the perfect companion. Jack Wyeth is someone we can all relate to and Eli Page is an artist we've all idolized. The town of Galesville could be home. The journey and self-discovery this b
Jane Thompson
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great debut novel, Bill! Going to send a copy to my brother in Rhode Island who first played at Caffe Lena in the 70s. He's also a very discerning reader and yours is one of a very few books I would dare give him. Loved the story and the rhythm of your words. I look forward to book #2. No pressure, though. ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lay Down Your weary Tune transcends literary fiction and becomes something palpable, with heart, and marrow, and longing. I missed this book when I was done reading it. I miss it still. Belcher's debut novel reminded me why I loved my father despite his faults, and it made me run out and get a copy for my brother so that we might share its beauty. I can't recommend this one enough. ...more
Eric Shoen
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bill did a great job with this story. It gets a little slow in the middle. I think that it is a worthy read that includes the life of an old retiring folk singer and a bit of mystery about his past life. Definitely make it to the end. The first 100 pages are great, and the last 100 pages are great. The middle gets a little muddy and boring.
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
The prerequisite "review" from the author to get the ball rolling. ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Lay Down Your Weary Tune tells the story of Eli Page, or rather the story of a man who's trying to tell a story about Eli Page. A famous folk singer, Page is now aging and reclusive, holed up in a small town in upstate New York, and his management hires failed musician/writer Jack Wyeth to write his biography. This task turns out to be more than Jack expected when Page proves uncooperative, not helped by the townsfolk's mistrust of him.

I was hoping to like this book a lot more than I did, as an
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise but the characters didn't feel fully developed and I never really connected. Eli Page is an aging rocker, a spokesperson for his time, a folk artist losing his memory. He struggles to hold on to the more lucid aspects of his present and to let go of/make amends with the all too clear mistakes haunting him from his past. The trouble is, it takes the reader eons to figure any of this out because Eli is so damn distant. You don't have any clue what's going on until 80% of the wa ...more
Abigail Grebe
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Note: I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway.

I feel bad giving this book only 2 stars, but I just can't give it 3. If they had a 2.5, I'd probably pick that one. The book was very well written - proper grammar, good sentence structures, etc. But the story was just. so. boring. I could not get into it and it took me almost a year to get through it. (Normal reading time: 2-5 weeks.)

The storyline follows a young ghostwriter and his following of the musician he's ghostwriting for. There's a sort-o
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book should have been right up my alley because I love books about musicians, but unfortunately it wasn't what it could have been. The plot and characterizations never clicked for me after the initial run-in with Page; I always felt like there was a writer pulling the strings, and not in the best way. The cop's behavior felt particularly manufactured to generate tension, and the crime spree detracted from the main focus of the book. It was well written on a sentence-by-sentence level, but f ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book. I felt like the characters were my people - and I also felt like I could, see, hear, and smell the setting. I do really like a folk song inspired aesthetic - and this had it - but it also had characters that were vulnerable and imperfect, a plot that twisted, and real complex feelings. I highly recommend this read if you like a good story - that is a bit more complex than a candy bar read.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Decent. thoughtful ideas/life lessons throughout book. Started a bit slower and a bit confusing with the timeline at times, but I would still recommend. There’s something to take away from it and had entertainment value-
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eli Page, a riddle wrapped in a myth. A folksinger who has moved to Galesville, NY and become a recluse. Jack Wyeth, sometimes folksinger, sometimes writer, comes to tell his story and while doing so, finds his own. If you are a folk music fan, as I am, this one’s for you.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
There was a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance and a lot of music appreciation in this one. I found it entertaining and sometimes on the edge of moving. I wanted to like it even more, but something held me back.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite it taking me some time to read this book, I enjoyed each page. There was something in it for me, something slow and sad and deeply human. Sometimes you meet the right book at the right time.
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Figuring out how Belcher believes the reader should feel about the characters in this book is like the old joke about how to figure out whether the person you're talking to is vegan: Just wait, and he'll tell you. I'm sure some readers prefer straightforward books, but I'd have found this book more relatable if the characters (especially the villains) weren't quite so one-dimensional and if the descriptions weren't so heavy-handed.

The book's events are set in motion when the main character and n
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gcpl, fiction, music
I really wanted to like this, and the story itself was actually a good one, but the writing failed to tell it well. I finally finished it, to see what would happen, but it was tough going. The characters annoyed me and what was supposed to be a romance simply didn't come alive at all. I'm disappointed, it really had promise.
The book takes you through a period of time in which a young man (Jack) who is struggling to find his purpose gets an opportunity to write a memoir about one of his idols (Eli), only to find out that the singer is old, and his mind is starting to fail. Their relationship is rocky and complex, as is Jack's budding relationship with a girl in town. As Jack works on these current relationships, he is forced to confront his past and look at what brought him to this place in his life. The reader acco ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great story that keep me interested in the characters and all their interactions. I'm a bit of an audiophile, so the music and song crafting undertones really resonated with me (pun intended). One of my favorite quotes was, “….it was the whispery slide of the finger flesh along the strings. That noise, for I have no better word for it, which marked the end of one chord and the beginning of another, offered a sense of authenticity; somehow it signaled both emptiness and an end to emptiness. In ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like a good folk song, W.B. Belcher's Lay Down Your Weary Tune tells a timeless, well-crafted story, full of memorable characters and an unexpected twist or two. Along the way, the novel explores themes of identity, love, loss, guilt, heartbreak, belonging - and maybe even redemption.

Put another way, Lay Down Your Weary Tune peers into the dark, shining heart of what it means to be human. What more can a reader ask? A great story, skillfully told. Highly recommended.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I just couldn't get into it. The characters were hard for me to relate to and I had a hard time figuring out what motivated them. I kept reading and reading waiting for it to pull me, but it just never did. I'm not interested in folk music but I thought I would still get into the story. ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Nice book for a first-time author. Once you understand the characters, it's easy to predict the plot. ...more
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W.B. Belcher grew up in western Massachusetts and earned his MFA from Goddard College. He lives along the Battenkill River in upstate New York with his wife and two kids. Lay Down Your Weary Tune is his first novel.

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