Classic Rock Review

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Stevie Ray Vaughan : Caught in the Crossfire by Joe Nick Patoski and Bill Crawford (1994)


Review Very detailed. The author conducted what must have been hundreds of interviews with friends, acquaintances and family. He consulted as many newspaper and magazine articles and no doubt walked the streets of Austin and Oak Cliff. The result is a detailed description of his subject and the environment. Yet it’s not a forest for the trees situation. The details do not drown out the overall story. Sometimes excessive details can make a book boring or hard to follow. Not in this case.

The author begins the story with the Vaughan’s migration to Texas from Kentucky. He also describes the evolution of Dallas as a music town starting as early as Blind Lemon Jefferson. Stevie’s years as a school boy in Dallas, his years playing small clubs in Austin, and his non public life are described in as much detail perhaps more in depth than his life as a famous blues superstar.

SRV lived his entire life the same way he played guitar: pedal to the metal. Drugs, girls, partying, jamming were all done fast and hard until he passed out from exhaustion. After 18 hours or more of sleep, it would start all over again.

After decades of life pedal to the metal it is amazing that he survived. But he didn’t just survive. He cleaned himself up and became a better person. It seems like he was a nice person. He spent a lot of effort helping other musicians especially underappreciated blues musicians. He insisted that his Double Trouble band mates received the same salary as he even though clearly SRV was the only reason people came to see Double Trouble.

The book also explores the mystery of the 1982 Montreaux Jazz Festival performance where the band was booed. Besides a couple of freaked out hippies dancing in front, the rest of the crowd (probably arthouse goons) sat and watched the performance in contempt and booed enthusiastically in between songs. The book offers an explanation, but perhaps in some minds the crowd’s behaviour at that event will remain an enigma.

Summary: good book, well written. If you like SRV, then you won’t regret having gotten this book.

Review After much hype about this book, Caught in the Crossfire, I had to see for myself. I received this book as a gift and immediately picked it up to read it. I read 7 chapters in the first night.
Being an avid fan and well-read on Stevie and the blues, I was expecting to find something wrong or at least something to contradict what I had read before. Not in this book. One can see the research that Patoski put into this book and how much he cared about his work.

Patoski documented Stevie’s life from the time he was born until the time of death. He included everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? And isn’t Stevie and his music about life? Patoski showed the reader that although Stevie was in a battle against himself, he also gave the optimistic feeling that Stevie would one day realize his problems and fix them. This gives the reader a feeling of hope, as in real life.

Caught in the Crossfire documents Stevie’s childhood, his pain of being made fun of at school by the other kids, his constant living in brother, Jimmie’s, shadow until later, his alcohol/drug abuse, and his triumph over his personal demons. Although Stevie went through so many harsh things in life, this book shows Stevie’s sweet nature and how it stayed through all his troubles.

Although the book was great and the information was very accurate and precise, there were times when I thought I was reading pieces of poetry. Just one word here or a couple of words there that seemed a little too cliche or too expected. Possibly even overused.

However, this didn’t affect the way the book afflicted my soul. Near the end, the author just tends to use the right way of wording and touch the reader’s heart, almost as if one was feeling Stevie Ray right there reading along with them, giving them a Blues Oasis which will quench their soul.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Stevie Ray Vaughn Caught In The Crossfire | , | Leave a comment