While mostly disliking autobiographies and (even more) MEMOIRS, I always have enjoyed biographies. Still, it is unusual that I would have picked up a biography about Jerry Lee Lewis, a musician who was just enough before my time to merely peak my interest. I dance to Great Balls of Fire (or used to) at weddings, and that’s about it.
But this biography was brought to my attention in another book I was reading, and it was mentioned mostly because of the book’s author, New York Times journalist Rick Bragg. Bragg was born and reared in Alabama, and much of his writing that isn’t news-related includes stories about his family and growing up in the south.
THAT’S what caught my attention.
I have read books by Bragg before, and he is one of those writers that makes me ashamed to call myself a writer. His ability to tell a story is enviable.
That’s the reason that I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, the only reason that it took me as long as it did to read the book was because I went back and forth between Wikipedia and YouTube to learn about Jerry Lee Lewis’s music and to watch the videos. I was unfamiliar with much of his music and knew almost none of his history (except for the part about marrying his 13-year-old cousin).
Jerry Lee Lewis’ story is fascinating, and his love for music and specifically his love for original rock and roll is legendary. I, of course, knew nothing about it. I believe that only added to my interest in the book.
The musician has had ups and downs throughout his career. He currently is still living, and up until recently, still performing.
While the book is primarily about the life of the famous musician, it is also about life in the 30s and 40s and 50s in the south, and about the history of country music, hillbilly music, rockabilly music, and mostly rock and roll.
I found it to be a remarkably enjoyable, if somewhat lengthy, read.