Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb

After the great success of the movie, “Crazy Heart,” which garnered Jeff Bridges an Oscar for Best Actor, I wanted to see if the novel on which the movie was based could stand up to the screen adaptation.

I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Thomas Cobb wrote his debut novel in 1987, but it didn’t receive much attention until director Scott Cooper acquired the movies rights to the story. And as they say, the rest is history.

The story, which is said to be based on the life of Hank Thompson, follows a washed-up old country singer, Bad Blake, as he struggles to keep a semblance of a singing career going even as he is going downhill at a rapid rate. He’s 57 years old, a raging alcoholic, and playing in dive bars and bowling alleys across the West. But it hadn’t always been that way for Bad Blake.

He was once one of the big-shots of country music, playing the drinking and cheating songs once so popular with his audiences. He started out as a sideman, and worked his way up to becoming a headliner, and in turn, he gave a young upstart guitar player named Tommy Sweet a chance in his band. Now Tommy was the headliner and Bad is just getting by the best he can.

But life has a way of swinging in Bad’s favor and he meets an attractive reporter, Jean Craddock, in Santa Fe and thinks maybe he’ll give love and family life another shot. After all, the fifth time might be the charm. His career begins to look up as well when Tommy gives Bad an opening slot on his tour for one night, and the two agree to try to work together on some more songs.

But life’s pendulum has a nasty way of swinging the other direction, and Bad runs into problems all along the way. A car accident leaves him busted up, and he loses Jean’s young son on an afternoon outing that found him in a bar.

But it’s the music that has always had a way of pulling Bad out of life’s jams, and it’s the music inspired by Jean that pulls Bad back up and headed to the top of the heap once again.

It was a delightful surprise to see how closely the movie version of “Crazy Heart” followed the book. There are several scenes from the book that were not used in the movie – Bad’s visit to his only son in California, his early days in the music business – to name a few, but they only serve to fill out the story for the reader to enjoy.

You can almost smell the smoke and taste the whiskey in the pages of “Crazy Heart,” just as surely as you can hear the wail of Bad Blake’s guitar as he cranks out the country blues. If you liked the movie, you’ll love the book.

This book is from my personal collection.

The music, "Weary Kind" by Ryan Bingham and "Gone Gone Gone" by Colin Farell (yes, that Colin Farrell!) are from the movie's soundtrack!

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