Music Monday: Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels

Selling your soul to the devil is a popular motif in hillbilly folktales: this is my third post on a story featuring it.  (Previously I covered Some Dark Holler by Luke Bauserman and We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix.)  Charlie Daniels wrote the most famous take on trope of all.  Although technically Johnny doesn’t sell his soul.  He puts it up as stakes for a bet—and wins.

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November 2018 Month-in-Review

Check out my November month-in-review to learn the five most popular posts at Hillbilly Highways for the month and to see what I’m reading!

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

Another month, another month in review!  We enter that time of year where things wind down, our tolerance for Christmas music and our gratitude already expended for the year.  Or at least it should.  I have a major work project that I need to finish by mid-February that will heavily effect my reading, my blogging, and my ability to relax over the next two months.

Why I remain very busy, and my reading remains way off—I only finished two books in November!—it was a great blog month.  November was my best month ever for blog views at Hillbilly Highways by a wide margin, and it was my second best month ever at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.  Gratifyingly, much of the traffic was driven by a handful of really strong posts rather than just search traffic spikes (even if those posts were boosted by outside links or Facebook promotion).


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Friday Night Lights Fridays: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

It has been a long time and a lot of miles since I last read Friday Night Lights.  At the time, I had lived in only one state in memory and had ventured beyond my small hometown just to the weird cocoon of college (and the even weirder cocoon of grad school).  Since then I’ve lived in six more states, worked in three professions, and started a family.  Notably, I did a swing through Texas itself, if there can be any comparison between Houston and Odessa (probably not, no).  I consumed the movie and TV series the book produced and gobs of movies and TV and fiction and nonfiction besides.

I almost put Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream down as soon as I picked it back up.  The book starts off displaying some of the worst pretensions, literary and otherwise, that I have come to despise.  Bissinger is a smug, elitist asshole.  But don’t let that fool you—he has written a phenomenal book.  By dint of luck and talent, if not good intent, he captured a magic, manic season in a place gutted by an oil bust and gone mad for football.  This is a book well worth reading whether or not you care about high school football or that big empty part of Texas.

(My review, by the way, is of the version featuring a new afterword written a year after the original edition was published, not the 25 year anniversary edition.)

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Country Noir: Where to Start with Ron Rash

Where do you tell someone to start with one of your favorite authors?

The dilemma is real.  There is a lot of pressure on you.  What if you screw up and recommend the wrong book and they never read your beloved author again?  And Ron Rash is definitely one of my favorite authors.  And one dear to my heart because he writes—and writes extraordinarily well—about the mountains of North Carolina where I grew up.  Danger notwithstanding, the recommendations must be made.  But I’ll give a few options.

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SF: Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Richard Kadrey meets Daniel Woodrell.

For 1,000 years Santa has kept his dark counterpoint Krampus magically imprisoned, and for 1,000 years Krampus has plotted his revenge.  This Christmas Yule he will get it.

Krampus is all the rage these days, most recently being featured in a horror flick.  Brom’s Krampus is a different sort of story.  It’s not horror at all.  It’s dark fantasy and southern gothic set in meth-ravaged West Virginia and owes more to writers like Ron Rash and Daniel Woodrell than Stephen King.  All set against a pagan, Norse mythology.  If that sounds like it’s up your alley, you’ll love it.  If it doesn’t?  You’ll probably still love it.

Krampus cover


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Music Monday: Merry Christmas From the Family by Robert Earl Keen

Given the amount of snow we’re getting dumped on us right now, I probably should have finished putting the Christmas lights up already.  But everybody knows that the Christmas season officially begins after Thanksgiving.  Everybody except the local Christmas stations, at least.  There is only one song, though, that truly embodies the Christmas spirit: Merry Christmas From the Family by Robert Earl Keen.

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