One Man's Music
The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell
6 x 9, 288 pp.
Pub Date: 04/01/2009
North Texas Lives of Musician Series
Price:        $14.95


Published by University of North Texas Press

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One Man's Music

The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell

By Vince Bell

Texas singer/songwriter Vince Bell’s story begins in the 1970s. Following the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Bell and his contemporaries Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, and Lucinda Williams were on the rise. In December of 1982, Bell was on his way home from the studio (where he and hired guns Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson had just recorded three of Bell’s songs) when a drunk driver broadsided him at 65 mph. Thrown over 60 feet from his car, Bell suffered multiple lacerations to his liver, embedded glass, broken ribs, a mangled right forearm, and a severe traumatic brain injury. Not only was his debut album waylaid for a dozen years, life as he’d known it would never be the same.

In detailing his recovery from the accident and his roundabout climb back onstage, Bell shines a light in those dark corners of the music business that, for the lone musician whose success is measured not by the Top 40 but by nightly victories, usually fall outside of the spotlight. Bell’s prose is not unlike his lyrics: spare, beautiful, evocative, and often sneak-up-on-you funny. His chronicle of his own life and near death on the road reveals what it means to live for one’s art.

Vince Bell, Texas singer/songwriter has written songs performed and recorded by such diverse talents as Little Feat, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith. In addition to releasing five critically acclaimed albums of his own, a ballet has been set to his work and his story turned into a musical. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife Sarah Wrightson.

What Readers Are Saying:

“He was a great songwriter before the accident, and he has continued to be a great songwriter after the accident. He writes songs about his life, and when I listen to Vince’s songs, I want to know about the person singing the songs. I think that’s what great songs do.” --Lyle Lovett

“First he wrote songs. And then came the car wreck. And then, after the coma, Vince Bell wrote notes to himself. ‘Life after death is a terrible joke,’ he wrote. And ‘Can you overcome loneliness?’ There are people who have never heard Vince songs—and I feel about those people like I feel about people who have never seen the ocean—but it seems to me that most of us know Vince’s notes by heart. Anyway, this is a sad and triumphant tale of distance and reunion, of shrapnel and balm, and of a man and his guitar who manage to find poetry in tenacity. Herodotus said ‘The tallest trees are always struck by lightning.’ Vince Bell said, ‘I stared into the face of God... and he blinked.’ Vince is singular. This book is communal.” --Peter Cooper

“This is the story of a man and his instrument; of good times and bad, and the damage sustained and survived by both through decades of hard use.” --Richard Dobson

“All music lovers and those who love autobiography and music history will be interested in One Man's Music. I would definitely want this book in my library, and I have a library of music books!” --Kathleen Hudson, author of Telling Stories, Writing Songs

“Vince Bell sees with the focused eye of a poet and listens with the sensitive ear of a seasoned musician. His understated and elegant writing connects like a live wire, showering the reader with the sparks of his unique experiences and shedding light on the struggles and pleasures of a traveling troubadour who endures the most bitter twists and turns, survives, and prevails.” --Robert Earl Hardy, author of A Deeper Blue: The Life and Mus

“Bell demystifies the life of the traveling troubadour, revealing it for the difficult life it often is.” --Sing Out!

“Bell’s tales ring true, imbued with a sense of wonder and a palpable joie de vivre. Often reading like riveting song-sketches, Bell’s vignettes include distilled accounts of far-flung road-gig mishaps and breakthroughs, salutes to friendships and safe harbors, exasperating glimpses of ‘Townes unbridled’. . . and rewarding musical reunions.” --Jim Musser

“Music has produced some great literature over the centuries, but rarely is it written by a musician. Dylan’s Chronicles is one glaring exception of course. This latest exception from Bell will resonate with folks more than Dylan’s stratospheric world and that’s a good thing. It’s the story of his life and music and the things that happen along the way. His prose and wit make this one a pager turner that will eventually make you reluctant to see it end.” --Village Records catalogue

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