My Walk Among the Stars
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews novels, poetry and non-fiction books for TheColumbiaReview.com
Do you love country music, are you fans of the legends in the industry? Well, if so, then now is the opportunity you’ve been looking for, a chance to take a trip down memory lane with Dick Flood, one of its stars, as he shares with you in words and pictures his experiences in the Nashville music scene.
This epic adventure starts with the author in the US army, stepping out of a C-47 at the Clark Air Force Base in the Philippine Islands, in early winter 1954. Fresh from South Korea, he fell in love with the beautiful islands and their people, despite the secret dangers lurking in its jungles.
However, his ‘My Walk Among the Stars’ began when he was discharged and returned to the United States two years later in 1956. He arrived back to an exciting time when television was coming into people’s homes, overnight, so it seemed, the world shrank as the stars of radio could now be seen on television programs, and become even more real to their fans.
Teaming up with his friend Billy Graves, the pair became “The Country Lads.” Their manager Mr. Connie B. Gay signed then up with CBS Television and they became known around the world for the next two years as they appeared on the Jimmy Dean morning show on Network TV.
Over the following years the author travelled with his music extensively throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Puerto Rico. Throughout the book he recounts his adventures in exotic destinations, and experiences rubbing shoulders with legends like Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison, when he performed with them in many shows, and the music they made proved immortal. Even now his songs are being used in movies and as backing, and of course enjoyed by country music fans worldwide in formats which the artists could not have imagined in their wildest dreams, at the time.
The interesting thing about this book is that, as the author chronicles the ups and down of his life, the reader is also treated to rare glimpses behind the scenes of the music industry, and the big film corporations of the day. Playing live in shows, and on TV, in prisons and military bases, including a three-months tour of the US military bases in the Far East, where the Dick Flood Show visited Guam, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines and hostile South Vietnam, his music captured the heart of his audiences. His story brings the superstar singers, musicians and performers of that time back to life, and his personal recollections of these people as friends and work colleagues, show the fans a side they don’t usually get to see.
The twists, turns, and leaps of faith which happen to us all (and to the music industry) led Dick Flood to a complete change of career in midlife. He became an eco-warrior living amongst the wildlife in the Okefenokee Swamp, a 438,000-acre, peat-filled wetland which bestrides the Georgia–Florida line of the United States. He recounted that period of his life in his first book “Swampwise,” (which was reviewed here favourably) where he writes under the pen name of ‘Okefenokee Joe.’
In Summary: The country music scene, career opportunities seized, and lost, and a family life well lived, are all revealed in this astonishing and highly compelling biography of this talented musician, singer, and songwriter. Highly recommended! — Susan Keefe, TheColumbiaReview.com