Throughout the world of popular music, from Los Angeles' Troubador to New York's Bitter End, in Newport and in Nashville, rock and country/western devotees are getting to know a songwriter and performer named Doug Kershaw. Here, for the music-minded generation that knows Cash and Dylan, for the musician, is the first book of words and muisc by and about "the Lousiana Man"—his life, his heritage, and his music.
Keshaw was born and raised in the rough Louisiana bayou country, and his music is rooted in the rhythms and sounds, the cylces and struggles of Cajun life. For centuries, from the bleak winters of maritime Canada to the isolated lowlands of Louisiana, survival has been the single Cajun prerogative. To today's audiences, with their growing demand for music that comes to terms with the inexplicagble and unpredictable conditions of reality, Kershaw is an important figure. Whether his songs deal specifically with life on the bayou, like "Louisiana Man" or "Spanish Moss", or whether they reach beyond a particular cultural domain and just talk about life in the world—"You'll Never Catch Me Walking in Your Tracks"—they specak with great precision to many, young and old, who are trying to make sense of survival and finding it perhaps not so easy. Kershaw learned early that it wasn't easy—he also learned that it had to be done.
Although the Cajuns have been around for a long time, their music was little known until recently. Only in the 1950s did hints of something musically fresh and exciting start to drift out of the Bayou. By the early sixties, even though Kerhsaw's hit, "Louisiana Man" had sold several million copies, his appearance at the Newport Folk Festival marked a milestone—the public's first exposure to the Cajun influence on a large scale.
In 1964, "A gentleman by the name of Johnny Cash, would you believe, asked me if I would be on his premier show, and he didn't have to ask. All he had to do is say so; I was more than glad. And the outcome of that has been ... well, there's no real way to say it. But it's fantastic."
Doug Kershaw doesn't have to say it—his songs speak for themselves, from "Son of Louisiana Man" to the soft French ballad "Dans la Louisanne" to "Mama Rita in Hollywood", a song about his mother who first started to accompany him on the guitar when he was eight. Some of the songs selected for thsi collection have been heard on Kershaw's two albums, Spanish Moss and Doug Kershaw; others are fresh from his pen. He has written over 20,000 songs. Here, with notes and suggestions for playing, are 26 of the best.
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