Oct 292014
 

1406945347865If you’ve read here any length of time you know that I’m a big fan of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Friends and family will tell you I’m more than a fan, that the music and the attitude behind it have been the sound track of my life.

Many of you have written me over the years to tell me how wrong that is.

I didn’t write you back.

Now, Jerry Lee has answered for me.

When word came out a couple years ago that Jerry was co-writing his autobiography I expected he would would hire a sycophant to co-write with him and intimidate him into writing what he wanted people to hear.

It was even more likely that he would quickly tire of the process, fire everyone, threaten to shoot someone, then go play a song for whoever showed up at the next concert.

The Killer suffers no one gladly…

Instead, he found a man who understands the music, the dirt, the Holy Ghost, and him and this is now the definitive biography of the “last man standing”.

You can’t understand Jerry Lee Lewis without understanding Pentecostalism and the American South, without understanding that heaven and hell met in a mans hands and soul and tore him asunder.

The co-author, Rick Bragg… understands.

The Pulitzer prize winner is a son of the South himself, a master story teller weaving an almost biblical tale together.

The result is a great book that not only captures Lewis, but is an opened time capsule about the South and the music that came forth from it and changed the world a lifetime ago.

All the dirt is here and Lewis apologizes for none of it.

He asks God to forgive it.

He’s an old man now, in his eightieth year…and he’s settling accounts with the Giver of his prodigious gifts.

He wonders if there’s grace to cover it all.

Now and again, thunder still rolls from his left hand.

You can hear it in the pages of this book.

Available now in The Phoenix Preacher bookstore.

  27 Responses to “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story”

  1. I think I need to purchase this one

  2. BD,

    You will “get” this book more than most…

  3. MLD,

    The Rockefeller book looks interesting, but he couldn’t play the piano worth a damn…

  4. No, but he died in the saddle with a 27 yr old and you don’t get more wild than that. 😉

  5. You have a point there… 🙂

  6. i looked at this post and said to myself, ‘this will be a guy thread’… looks like i may be right

  7. “All the dirt is here and Lewis apologizes for none of it.”

    My go to guy in the Bible, when it comes to sin, is Samson. Here’s a guy who does about everything wrong and even his finale words are all about him and yet he’s considered in Hebrews a hero of the faith.

    Being a bad example for humanity, like Samson or J L Lewis, isn’t what saves or doesn’t save. The story of Samson is this, he never lost sight that the God of creation is the one God and the name above all names, his faith endured to the end (as one famous NT author says about himself).

    ““O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.”

    So while I believe J L Lewis is about as close to low as a man can get I also believe God is the judge of his faith and not me. If Samson had enough faith, then there’s hope for JL and even me.

  8. By the way is there a difference in living between these two ways:

    1. Living like hell and relying on God’s mercy and grace to survive it.

    2. Loving God and His mercy and Grace.

    Just a couple of thoughts.

  9. as we know…
    it is God’s character that provides our redemption, not ours…
    two dangerous things to deny:
    1-that there is a God that we will ultimately answer to
    2-that i have no sin to condemn me (without God’s grace provisions)

    jist a couple more thoughts

  10. While your a big fan of Jerry, and I can fully understand that, I am a big fan of John Lennon.

    Who may or may not have gotten salvation, depending how you look at it.

    Here is the short story of John and his possible salvation through Christ if anyone is courious…
    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2014/10/i-am-willing-to-bet-you-did-not-know.html

  11. Oh, and if your a Beatle’s fan here is a short story about “Abbey Road,” how they came up with the name for their album and how they came up with the idea of taking a picture of them in that now famous cross walk.

    There is a live cam link to if you want to watch all of the tourist reenact that photograph.

    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-beatles-abbey-road-history-and-live.html

  12. I knew the pastor of Abbey Road Church right at the crosswalk when they took the pictures.

  13. David, I posted this here before when Michael wrote about Lennon. You might find it interesting…if you have not seen it.

    http://www.guideposts.org/faith/stories-of-faith/i-saw-him-standing-there?page=0,0

  14. I may visit that church one day BD, and then do my own tourist photo as I walk that cross walk…

    Steve thanks for passing on that story, I had not read it before.

    I got to talk to the doorman at John’s home, the Dakota, about a year or so ago.

    He told me some stories that were in line with what the experience of the people in that Guidepost article had.

    There is a small memorial across the street in the park called “Strawberry fields” where people from all around the world visit.

    The day I was there there was a young musician sitting cross legged playing his guitar. He played awfully but his attitude was good.

    There were some obviously big fans of John peppered in with the typical tourist.

    People had brought flowers and put them on the ground, it looked like there were still people who loved John around.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Strawberry+Fields+in+Central+Park&client=firefox-beta&hs=jAB&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JixSVIG6F4W0oQS3n4LIBg&ved=0CC8QsAQ&biw=1376&bih=656

  15. Wouldn’t it be something if we had the same graciousness towards our friends, family and general neighbors as we do our entertainment and sports idols even when they continue living la vida loca while claiming to be christians. We instead consign even our brethren who disagree with us theologically to the ash heap if their theology & walk doesn’t measure up to what we assume it should be. At least until their death bed.

    The idea that hell could be a reality is a great hurdle to overcome when we try to wrap our heads and hearts around the idea that those we love an/or admire might wind up there for an eternity of torture. The squeeze of a hand, a nod of a head, even a groan from a dying loved one can become our “proof” of deathbed conversion because the thought of them being hell bound is unbearable. Even a dream about the departed loved one can become the assurance we crave that they are safely tucked in the everlasting arms.

    After death our heroes can even become saints as in the case of Constantine, who legalized christianity to have same protection as other religions of the time, used the imagery of the cross for his political and battle campaigns, continued to practice his pagan religion and did not seek to be catechized or baptized until on his death bed.

    Just 2 cents worth of morning ponders from an agnostic universalist who our gracious blog host and many here have found grace in their hearts to tolerate.

    Peace

  16. Anne, you are dearly loved here.

  17. Thank you, Nonnie. I love the PP family dearly as so many of you have walked beside me on my topsy turvy journey!

  18. I read this devotional today. I think you will like it, Anne.

    The Weakest in the Center

    The most honored parts of the body are not the head or the hands, which lead and control. The most important parts are the least presentable parts. That’s the mystery of the Church. As a people called out of oppression to freedom, we must recognize that it is the weakest among us – the elderly, the small children, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the hungry and sick – who form the real center. Paul says, “It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified, that we surround with the greatest dignity” (1 Corinthians 12:23).

    The Church as the people of God can truly embody the living Christ among us only when the poor remain its most treasured part. Care for the poor, therefore, is much more than Christian charity. It is the essence of being the body of Christ.

  19. Yes, you are right Nonnie. I have a great appreciation for these examples of what faith can look like. Grateful where ever by whomever I see these gifts of love exercised. Your heart & work with those who are disabled is a shining example to me. Our friend, London, is another whose compassion and work to those less fortunate inspires and encourages.

    The parable of the good samaritan remains a favorite of mine. Although my previous theology placed huge emphasis on right orthodoxy trumping good works, I like to think that just as the Samaritan’s theology was not considered correct, my own spiritual confusion may be forgiven me as I still am constrained to love my neighbor as myself. That is if there truly is a judgement day coming where all will be held to account. An account, a method of obtaining an entry ticket for which there is much confusion and debate in christendom.

    I confess freely I have great doubts about all that now. At least at this time, rather than that doubt being the fuel of a long dark night of the soul, I can now walk moment by moment with gratitude for what light and love there remains in my life. Sharing it with others as opportunity arises.

  20. Anne, I truly believe Jesus is walking with you in all your doubts and questions.

  21. The serpent wins again;
    Apple CEO Tim Cook came out Thursday, acknowledging publicly for the first time that he is gay.
    “Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he wrote in a column in Bloomberg Businessweek.

    http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/30/technology/tim-cook-gay/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

  22. Sometimes we just fall in love with an entertainer and just can’t bare the thought that even though this person unapologetically disobeyed God all his life, that he’s going to go to heaven. We saw this with Michael Jackson, John Lennon and others. I saw it with my own father in law, who was an active atheist all his life, ridiculed Christianity at every opportunity, but on his deathbed apparently raised an eyebrow and said he’d like to go and “be with _____” (his deceased wife.). This was “proof” for the Christians in the room that he had accepted Christ. Call me skeptical. HOWEVER, I would not put it past God to give dying people a last chance, maybe a vision or dream or who knows what that MIGHT turn some of them. But I would not count on it.

    Of course, St. Constantine who lived a confused religious life and was only baptized at the last hour- this is proof to many people that he was never a Christian, ever.

    Like Anne, I don’t see why beloved entertainers get a pass and pastors are excoriated to the nth degree. Sure, a pastor has a special calling and affects many people but entertainers affect millions of people. “Imagine there’s no heaven.” <—- That became an anthem for a whole generation of agnostics and atheists.

    Listen, if any of these entertainers and software designers did have a change of heart at that end of their days, that's a wonderful thing. God is in the business of saving people. But don't confuse wistful thinking with the truth.

  23. MLD,

    Aghh! My ipad!

  24. Jerry Lee Lewis – His Own Story
    By Rick Bragg

    I have just finished reading this 500 page book by Professor Rick Bragg. Thanks to Amazon’s excellent service the book arrived yesterday morning at 11am and it now 3pm on the following day and it has taken me almost every hour since to read it. You have heard of books you can’t put down – well this one stopped me going to sleep.
    As Jerry himself would say, there have been a “flock” of books about him but none are anything like as good as this one.

    I must confess here at the outset of this review to being an avid Jerry Lee fan and I have known him personally for over 52 years and been fortunate enough to fly with him in his private plane and to stay as a guest in Jerry’s home. As such I can vouch for the veracity and truthfulness of the way Jerry and Rick describe many of the events I attended. Absolutely nothing has been glossed over. This is not a sugar-coated biography.

    It is an unusual book in as much as it is more than a just a biography as the author recalls past events and jogs Jerry’s memory into commenting on them. Frequently the actions described are quite shocking and this book is definitely unsuitable for maiden aunts and anyone of a nervous disposition.

    The book tells how Jerry was delivered into this world by his father as the doctor was lying drunk beside the bed. It was a breach birth and Jerry says, “I was born feet first and I have been jumping ever since.” Jerry’s father Elmo played an important part in Jerry’s life and the wild streak that runs throughout the Lewis family meant that sometimes Elmo would be serving time in the dreaded Angola prison for “bootlegging liquor.”

    Jerry’s mother Mamie did her best in very difficult circumstances and the book details their dirt poor existence in the south of Louisiana. It wasn’t until Jerry was 21 and checked into a cheap hotel in Memphis that he was in a place that had a sink and running water.

    The book is excellent on Jerry’s upbringing in the small town of Ferriday and how he was constantly competing with his cousins, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Lee Swaggart. Jerry talks honestly about how he and Jimmy Lee stole goods from shops and he also tells of stealing a pistol. In fact one of the constant themes of the book is Jerry’s many run-ins with the law, the Inland Revenue, and his multitude of court cases.

    Author Rick Bragg is already well known for his books and essays on the South and he writes eloquently on Jerry’s religious upbringing and the torments he still suffers today in his eightieth year as he tries to atone for all his misdeeds in the hope that he will make it to Heaven.

    Surprisingly Jerry names some of his old girlfriends and recalls how he got naked by a riverbank with one 16 year old when he was just 13. However, in his mind he heard some Scripture and as he half expected a bolt of lightning at any second, they put their clothes back on. Jerry tells how he did not have sex until he was married at 16 and then he was disappointed and immediately decided he had married too young. Jerry eventually grew to like marriage as he eventually married seven different ladies – sometimes in a bit of a rush and without the precaution of divorcing the previous one. In the book Jerry details this unusual attitude to marriage in a very factual manner that will surprise many.

    Jerry talks very frankly about his early years as a musician and how he was inspired by hearing Elvis’s early records on the radio. He had read in magazines how Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun records had made star out of Elvis and the book gives Jerry’s first hand account of how he got started at Sun and his elation at hearing Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips play his first record on the radio.

    There is a good description of the Million Dollar Quartet session where Jerry, Elvis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were all photographed together in the Sun studio in December 1956. That jam session became history and Jerry is now the sole survivor as his three colleagues are now no longer with us.

    Jerry is also extremely truthful about his lifetime dependence on a mixture of alcohol and drugs. And by drugs Jerry does not just mean a few uppers, he lists a complete range of pharmaceuticals that he either swallowed or injected. He certainly doesn’t recommend that way of life and the book will serve as a wake up call to many musicians who think it is fun to dabble in drugs – only Jerry didn’t dabble.

    Above all the sensational stories the book chronicles his great success as a musician. No other singer pianist has enjoyed such a long career. He has cut records across all the fields of popular music and has sold millions and millions of records from gold discs like Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On in the fifties to being a star with millions of downloads on YouTube and I-Tunes.

    Despite being a consistent seller for over 58 years, from rock’n’roll to country to gospel, Jerry maintains in the book that he has never been paid properly for most of them. Yet he has never sued anyone for what is rightfully his.

    They have tried making films of his life and various articles and books have also attempted to capture the essence of Jerry Lee Lewis but until now all have failed.

    In the words of my late friend Glenn Sutton, who wrote 5 songs for him,
    “Jerry Lee Lewis can take any song and make it his own, he is the greatest entertainer in the World, always has been and always will be.”

    I thoroughly recommend this book and every aspiring musician should read it all and learn from it.

    Graham Knight from Aberdeen, Scotland

    Graham@knightsaberdeen.com

  25. I thought the book was excellent.
    Jerry Lee Lewis is the entertainer par excellence and I am grateful for the effort and welcome Graham Knight to tell me about Jerry Lee .
    I hope that Jerry Lee is able to come at SEEC in Glasgow in September 10.
    Best wishes Graham.

  26. .. and I forgot I mention an excellent Impersonator at an appearance in Pitlochry Theatre a few years ago ..the prime actor whose name i fogot was an excellent and i was disappointed that the event only was a third fill.

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