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The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Winner of the 2013 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work!

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song is a rich and compelling original graphic novel that tells the story of the Carter Family—the first superstar group of country music—who made hundreds of recordings and sold millions of records. Many of their hit songs, such as “Wildwood Flower” and “Will the Circle Be
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  535 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Paul Bryant
We now have around 90 years of recorded music – before 1925 it’s not that good, partly due to the poor songs ("Don’t Dilly Dally on the Way", "My Word you do Look Queer", "Ma He’s Making Eyes at Me") but mostly because they had to yell down a horn to record anything before 1925.

The way popular Anglo-American music evolved over the decades was fast. Genres were borned, fizzed awhile, then phoenixed into something newer. I see this as a spectacular collaboration between Scottish, Irish and
David Schaafsma
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: music, gn-bio, gn-music
AP Carter, his wife Sarah and his cousin Maybelle make up the Carter Family, who were foundational in country music, bridging the nineteenth century period of English and Scottish ballads, which they played, to the Old Time country music they spread from the Appalachians across the country. Who cares? Well Mother Maybelle, whose invention of a kind of guitar strumming influenced country music for a long time, and who was the Grandame of Country Music for decades of musicians, was the mother of ...more
Emilia P
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Ok, I read this book for a book club. It was first of all, pretty great, well told, quietly dramatic, but ultimately (and hence the 3 stars) extremely dry. Like ... I think it probably captured the reality of the story it was telling but it was documentary to the point of dragging. I was all prepared to go to book club and sing its praises but in hindsight, it was just okay, and I would not have sought it out or been particularly intrigued by it. I would rather watch a PBS documentary on the ...more
Steve Bennett
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This graphic novel deserves high praise. I guess my highest recommendation is that I stayed up until 1:30AM last night to finish reading this book. It tells the story of The Carter Family, focusing mostly, but by no means entirely, on AP Carter. The book reads almost like a modern passion play, including tales of innocence, love, betrayal, success, lonliness, racism, greed, and ultimately death, all anchored by the strength of family and love for music. One of the things I like most about the ...more
Dov Zeller
I read this sometime in the last year and will need to read it again before I can write a review. But I do remember enjoying it and learning quite a bit, so, for now I'll leave it at 4 stars.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous little book. I want to read a graphic novel about all my favorite music artists. I love the panels with Sara and A.P. singing that would turn into roses; the way A.P.'s heartbreak was depicted; the apple tree.
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, library
While it's a very interesting biography on the Carter Family, I feel that it suffers from a lack of actually showing their impact on music. What about the 50s, 60s, 70s? This just ends and it's over. Even just a timeline of later events would have shown the scope. As it is it feels like a story of musicians who might have been regionally popular but didn't have a big following. Which could be farther from the truth. Also the artist isn't good and distinguishing between characters and don't get ...more
Owen Curtsinger
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully charming and informative biography of an American family and their undeniably capital-A American story: their modest origins, their rise to greatness, flirtations with the dangers of business and profiteering, their struggles to maintain a family, and their heartbreaking downfall. Young and Lasky have perfected the art of graphic history, but not just because they have few great contemporaries to be found. Young's capturing of the old Virginian drawl coupled with Lasky's simple and ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was very sorry indeed when I finished this book, I wanted it to keep going! A compelling and amazing story of one of America's greatest music acts. The characters come alive on the pages. The classic composition of the artwork harkens of Lil Orphan Annie, The Yellow Kid, Gasoline Alley, and other newspaper comics of the time. The old-timey feel to the linework and text, as well as the choice of colors, helped to create the time warp I took back to the 1920s, where I avidly followed the Carter ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anyone not named Frank M. Young or David Lasky should just ask for their GN's back from the Eisner comitee.
I have always been a fan of the band the Carter Family but, shy of June knew little about them.
If you want to experiencee how wonderful and dreadful the South was in the 20's through the 40's this may be as close as you will ever get.
The storytelling is down home but always wildly inventive. Just a joy to read even when thing got a bit dire and depressing.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is just a fantastic book, really! And for some reason, the graphic novel format just matches up perfectly with the story that it tells. I am not particularly a fan of the Carter Family or their style of music, but I loved this book all the same.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting years for this book. It didn't disappoint.
Jen Vaughn
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hell yeah! Quiet story about quiet people. Beautiful music.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
reviewing for Unshelved's Book Club
Brian Sendelbach
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Can't recommend this highly enough.
Cooper Renner
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very cool history of the Carter Family focusing on their "glory" years from the late 1920s to the '40s, written in graphic novel format.
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic, biography
This is fantastic.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is written like a Comic Book strip which somehow I didn't realize until after I had purchased the book. I was worried this might drive me crazy but once I started reading it I really enjoyed the format. If you are interested in music history or the Carter family I would highly recommend this book. The only negative is that the print is small so get out your reading glasses.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction

Told in graphic novel style, The Carter Family tells the story of how this country's Americana grandmothers and grandfathers got their start in music. I enjoyed reading about the history of this talented musical family.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A strangely arms-length-distance biography of the titular singing group, done in the style of old-time comic strips. It's interesting, but it never really connected with me on an emotional level. I think this would be best read with a more book-length biography, because I spent a lot of time feeling like I didn't quite "get it."

Clearly a labor of love for the artist and writer, and very well done, but it just didn't work for me as a casual fan.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is my first "graphic novel experience," unintended and . . . disappointing (at best). I requested a number of books from different libraries, because I have a great love for the music of The Original Carter Family. They were what is called a bridge band, in that they somehow bridged the cultural chasm between 19th century ballads, Irish scaffold songs, laments and hymns and the emerging musical tastes shaped by the modernity of the 20th. A.P. Carter is responsible for mining the hills for ...more
Jack Cheng
Frank Young and David Lasky’s Carter Family is told almost like a serialized comic. Many “chapters” are 1-4 pages long, detailing a particular event -- Maybelle marrying AP’s brother Eck, or AP asking his publisher to give songwriting credit to a fellow song collector. Being less familiar with the Carter Family’s story, some of these events suggested portent (Janette saving up for her own autoharp and AP buying chickens with the money instead) or highlights that I didn’t recognize (the dates for ...more
Garrett Cash
This is one of the greatest musical biographies and graphic novels I have ever read. It is a great supplement to the more detailed Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?: The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music. This book makes you feel as if you are a personal friend of the Carter's. You see their struggles and their triumphs first hand. The centerpiece of the story is A.P., the flawed yet brilliant and under-appreciated folk song collector. His impact on country music is enormous, and it ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel is, as its title suggests, about the Carter Family -- a husband, a wife, and a cousin in Virginia who become successful country/folk singers (one member of the group is mother to a little girl who will grow up to be June Carter Cash, although June's appearance in this book is relatively minor). We start with the courtship of two of the he group's singers, see the process by which Pleasant Carter assembles and arranges songs, and watch as they catch attention, grow popular, ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books, music
Over the last ten years through my association with WRUW FM 91.1 in Cleveland, I have become a fan of "classic" country music and the Carters are basically the progenitors of all country music that came after (and rock 'n' roll as well.) This work has a lot of potential, since we already know what is possible with biographical graphic novels in works like Maus and Persepolis, but ultimately it falls short. The graphic novel does a good job of laying out the story of the Carters, but we don't ...more
Bob Collins
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Graphic novel biography of the Carter Family. The Carter Family helped to define the early days of country music, singing hymns and ballads out of the mountain tradition. A P Carter traveled the mountains of Appalachia to find music add to their repertoire, music that might have dies away if he had not collected it. A P's cousin, Maybelle, played the guitar, and his wife, Sarah, played an auto-harp. Maybelle developed a way of strumming and picking out the notes to the melody that had great ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it
If you've never heard of the Carter Family, you're missing a huge part of American music history. Countless acts have professed influence from the timeless melodies crafted by the Carters. This graphic novel seeks to tell their story. It is, by turns, a love story, an all-American rags-to-riches tale, and an homage to traditional music. It's a great story, but I'm not sure if the graphic novel format is ideal. Granted, it does make for a very accessible introduction to the Carter Family (and ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This is fairly well-done, based on thorough very research of relevant interviews (some conducted by the author) and archival materials. The drawing style is reminiscent of Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie or perhaps latter-day Chester Brown in his Louis Riel mode. It's a compelling story and Young paces the material nicely, though it sometimes feels a bit like a book report, with certain sequences being overburdened with info-dumps about things like developments in recording technology, etc. ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
A graphic portrayal of June Carter-Cash's musical family - it does not cover June's life but rather the life of her parent's. Even more so her aunt, uncle, and cousins. This was a huge disappointment. I was definitely looking forward to reading about June, her sisters, and Maybelle, which were the individuals I thought made up The Carter Family musical group . It was actually Alvin Pleasant (A.P.), Maybelle's brother-in-law, that began the group. He was a huge jerk, and worse, to everyone. I ...more
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The writing and the contents of this book are outstanding. The artwork is a slight weakness that kept me from giving it a fifth star.
In addition to being an overview of the history of the Carter family, this work includes a brief CD of their music, from their time on a Texas border radio station, in 1939. The format of the book, with each chapter name coming from the name of one of their songs, was clever and well thought out. By the end of the book, the reader has learned a lot about the family
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Frank M. Young is an Eisner Award-winning writer/colorist and historian of comic arts. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.