Book Review: The Flatlanders: Now It's Now Again

John T. Davis

The Flatlanders: Now It's Now Again

The Flatlanders: Now It's Now Again

by John T. Davis University of Texas Press, 228pp., $19.95 (paper)

More a legend than a band that then blossomed into a world-renowned musical force, the Flatlanders never had their tale retold this completely. Soul mates since high school, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock are here joined by a multitude of others musically, spiritually, and financially. Veteran Austin scribe John T. Davis proves ideal for the telling as he digs deep into their West Texas roots and communal life in Lubbock. He documents them to Nashville in 1972, where they record an album released only on 8-track tape before not so much breaking up as dissolving. Solo careers ensue, the trio's lives intertwined with recording one another's songs, producing one another's LPs, and appearing onstage together with remarkable frequency. Since the millennium, their renaissance counts three albums of new material and two featuring unreleased archival recordings. The author packs a lot into limited space with insight and intelligence, though some facts are inexplicably repeated and he draws heavily from magazines and newspapers without proper attribution. He pulls together remarkable moments like a long-haired Lyndon Baines Johnson attending a set at the first Kerrville Folk Festival. As a whole, Now It's Now Again offers a cogent examination of making music for its own sake. As Gilmore explains, "We weren't trying to do anything big or huge or anything. It was just fun. We did it for fun." (Sun., 2pm, Music Tent @ 11th & Colorado)

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Flatlanders, Texas Book Festival 2014, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock

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