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It's almost like people are walkin' around... with this unreal ego. 'Oh, listened to a Gary Davis tune. Let me figure that out... I mean I know he was great but why can't I figure that out in one hour?' Or one week? Or one year? - Jerry Ricks, Port Townsend 97

Author Topic: Racehoss (Life in a Texas penitentiary during the 1950s and 1960s)  (Read 694 times)

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Offline jphauser

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If you ever wondered about the environment that Texas prison songs like "Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos" and "Midnight Special" came out of, you might want to read Racehoss: Big Emma's Boy.

It's written by Albert Sample and tells his life story including his 17 years in a Texas penitentiary during the 1950s and 1960s.  By that time, prison reforms had made life easier for the convicts, but it was still very brutal.  They still sang the work songs and, at several points in the book, Sample describes singing them as part of a "200 con choir."
Here is a review from the Chicago Tribune.

Sample is a great storyteller and Sean Ferrer (Audrey Hepburn's son) made a documentary of him telling his life story before a live audience.  It's available on DVD

and on youtube (with the annoyance of ads).  He doesn't talk about prison until about halfway through the documentary.  But the whole two-hour film is great, and, when all is said and done, uplifting.  Sample will have you laughing and crying and sometimes doing both at the same time.


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