A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

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9781568584072: A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

A Heartbeat and a Guitar tells of the collaboration of two distinct yet connected musicians—iconoclast Johnny Cash and pioneering folk artist Peter La Farge—and the album they created, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It also tells of the unique personal, political, and cultural struggles that informed this album, one that has influenced the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

D'Ambrosio has interviewed dozens of Cash's and La Farge's friends, family, and collaborators, including surviving members of his band, his producers, and Pete Seeger and Kris Kristofferson, creating a dramatic picture of both an era of radical protest and the making of one of the most controversial and enduring works of political pop art of the 1960s.

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About the Author:

Antonino D'Ambrosio is the author of Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Politics of Joe Strummer; the film version directed by D'Ambrosio will be released in 2010. His most recent film is No Free Lunch, starring comedian Lewis Black. His writing appears in The Progressive, The Believer, The Nation, among many others. D’Ambrosio is the founder/executive director of La Lutta NMC. D’Ambrosio is currently the artist-in-residence at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, NM where he launched the multimedia film project La Terra Promessa.

Review:

Johnny Western, musician and longtime emcee of The Johnny Cash Show
“Antonino D'Ambrosio has really done his homework like no one ever before. I performed with Cash for 40 years and have read every book written about him yet D'Ambrosio astonishingly reveals another side of Cash framed around perhaps his most important work, Bitter Tears. A Heartbeat and a Guitar is a rare and extraordinary work thanks to D'Ambrosio's exceptional and masterful storytelling. This book must be read, not just by Cash fans, but everyone who loves music and believes in its power and spirit. D’Ambrosio’s work, like Cash himself, is highly original and a force to be reckoned with.

Jim Jarmusch, filmmaker
“This book is a truly fascinating journey, charting the historical and social context of a courageous musical statement by one of our greatest rebel voices. It has since been locked away in the ‘denial drawer’ (aren't First Nations people just an extinct species, systematically exterminated by European ‘progress’?), but D'Ambrosio admirably shines his investigative lantern into every darkened corner, finally offering some greatly appreciated illumination.”

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Antonino D'Ambrosio
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