Satan Is Real
by, Apr-15-2012 at 10:28am (6017 Views)
With an introduction by Kris Kristofferson, this book easily ranks as one of my favorite music biographies of all-time, and I've read many. Satan Is Real, The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers was written by Charlie Louvin with Benjamin Whitmer (Igniter press, published January 3, 2012 a year after Charlie's passing).
Here's a prescription for sanity: Friday night I turned off the computer and cracked open the book. A great one grabs you by the throat in the first few paragraphs and never lets up. Sadly, by 9:00 p.m. Saturday night, page 320 rolled by with nothing more to enjoy so I spun a few Louvin classics I'd not listened to in awhile. Man, were they something. And so is this book.
Their influence spread far and wide. From bluegrass purists to country rockers to folkies, hard core rockers, pop icons, punkers, seems about anyone that was into music has been influenced by their work or sang their songs. From Waylon to Thile, from Dolly to The Beatles, The Everly Brothers to Willie Nelson and the Dead to Emmy Lou. David Grisman certainly was influenced as you'll soon see.
Few works I've felt stronger about, hence this post. But don't take my word for it. Rave reviews by respected sources are easily found online from sites such as The New Yorker, Time Out Chicago, not to mention a nearly perfect reader review rating on amazon.com.
In the sake of brevity I won't give up any details, but one gem stuck in our mind, like the time Bill Monroe loaned Ira his mandolin for a gig. Afterwards Bill invites both Louvins (actual last name was Loudermilk. Louvin was a stage name.) for coffee. Over what starts as serious conversation, Ira asks Bill if he'll sing at his funeral when he passes. Conversation continues until Bill and Ira agree to sing at each other's funerals depending upon who dies first. They're laughing with glee at the thought while Charlie is stunned thinking the entire conversation is morbid. Monroe ultimately interrupts a tour to return to sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at Ira's funeral backed by the Jordanaires. Powerful.
Louvin Brothers on stage at the Grand Ole Opry
A quote from Part 2 of our 2010 interview with David Grisman included this little gem:
"I shocked Sam Bush one time while we were working in my studio when I opened a case to reveal Ira Louvin's unique Martin 2-15 which he himself had customized with pearl inlaid flames surrounding the f-holes, pearl binding and his own "IRA" in the headstock. Sam had been commenting earlier that afternoon about this instrument when he noticed it in a photo of the Louvin Brothers hanging on the studio wall."
1947 Martin 2-15 customized by Ira Louvin
And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to purchase Charles Wolfe's In Close Harmony: The Story of the Louvin Brothers. At twice the price of Satan Is Real, it's a bargain if it's half as good.
I'll let you know after I've read it.
Louvin Brothers - I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby
Additional resource: Louvins from This Day In History