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Working Girl Blues

Working Girl Blues: The Life and Music of Hazel Dickens

Hazel Dickens
Bill C. Malone
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Working Girl Blues
    Book Description:

    Hazel Dickens is an Appalachian singer and songwriter known for her superb musicianship, feminist country songs, union anthems, and blue-collar laments. Growing up in a West Virginia coal mining community, she drew on the mountain music and repertoire of her family and neighbors when establishing her own vibrant and powerful vocal style that is a trademark in old-time, bluegrass, and traditional country circles. Working Girl Blues presents forty original songs that Hazel Dickens wrote about coal mining, labor issues, personal relationships, and her life and family in Appalachia. Conveying sensitivity, determination, and feistiness, Dickens comments on each of her songs, explaining how she came to write them and what they meant and continue to mean to her. Bill C. Malone's introduction traces Dickens's life, musical career, and development as a songwriter, and the book features forty-one illustrations and a detailed discography of her commercial recordings.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09097-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Bill C. Malone and Hazel Dickens
  4. Hazel Dickens: A Brief Biography
    (pp. 1-30)
    Bill C. Malone

    Hazel Dickens’s compelling voice and eloquent songs first reached a large American public in the soundtrack ofHarlan County, USA,a 1976 Academy Award–winning documentary film that told of a protracted and dramatic strike in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. During a graphic description of the ravages wrought by pneumoconiosis midway through the documentary, Hazel is heard singing her own composition, “Black Lung,” a powerful elegy inspired by the death of her brother Thurman and other coal miners. Her voice—stark, keening, and persuasive—manages to convey both the suffering felt by generations of her kinsmen and her own outrage...

  5. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  6. Songs and Memories
    (pp. 31-86)
    Hazel Dickens

    People took to this song like no other that I’ve ever sung. Of course in bluegrass you hear a lot of songs about mother. I’ve gotten more responses, more nice sentiments about this song than any other song. Lynn Morris, whose version won the IBMA’s Song of the Year award in 1996, says the same thing. For some reason, almost every time I sing it, I can see people in the audience with tears in their eyes.

    There was a very special bond between me and my mother. When I was three months old, I developed this condition where I...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. A Hazel Dickens Discography
    (pp. 87-98)
  9. Index
    (pp. 99-102)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 103-110)