The memoir by Mickey White is the account of the author's experience as a professional guitar player/ singer-songwriter during the 1970s and 1980s. Although never a star or celebrity, he had professional and personal interactions with a number of notable Texas-based songwriters, most significantly, the legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt. The up-close and personal account of Van Zandt provides a unique and compelling perspective from a person who accompanied Townes on guitar at hundreds of live performances, and contributed to three of his recordings. The author was a collaborator who saw Van Zandt at his pinnacle, was with him as he slid into periods of obscurity and despair, and accompanied him on his quest to re-establish his reputation and obtain notoriety. The book paints a portrait of an artist that was, as most accounts of Van Zandt have thoroughly addressed, tormented and anguished, but also a man with career goals and ambitions, and a friend who was a mentor, a confidant, and an inspiration.
Mickey White, throughout his career, was able to capitalize on his guitar-playing expertise to accompany and associate with a number of significant artists. A veteran of the garage-band circuit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the late 1960s, he attended the University of Texas in Austin. Beginning with Austin, the manuscript delves into the inner workings of music scenes throughout the United States and Canada, including Austin, Houston, Nashville, Toronto, and Chicago. The author relates his experiences encountering and interacting with such notables as Lightnin' Hopkins, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Richard Dobson, Billy Joe Shaver, Kinky Freidman, Ian Tyson, Steve Goodman, Gamble Rogers, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and others. The proposed title of the book (and one of the chapters) comes from a comment made by Bob Dylan to Rolling Stone magazine, after seeing "Mickey Clark and another Mickey" at the Earl of Oldtown in Chicago. The Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys, the collaboration with bass player Wrecks Bell, was an infamous band in Houston in the late 70s, and accompanied Lucinda Williams on her second studio album, which White co-produced. In 1983, he married Austin singer-songwriter Pat Mears, and had one son, John, born in 1983.
The writer, like many of his contemporaries, struggled with substance abuse. The book delves candidly into that aspect of his life in the music business, juxtaposed with Townes' affliction, as well as his successful recovery in the 1980s. He traces the development of his addiction, as well as a spiritual odyssey, based largely in the anchor of an extended family, that enabled a transition to sobriety.
Throughout the work, the author describes and explains the musical foundations and influences on different types of guitar-playing, focusing on the styles and techniques of acoustic guitar playing. The book also provides criticism and analysis of Van Zandt's recordings, and interpretations of many of his songs. White's personal knowledge of many of the people and places that were written about provides a unique perspective on Van Zandt's work.
The narrative is a slice of Americana, the venture of an Air Force brat raised in a military family anchored in Texas culture, observations of people and places critical to folk and country music, and a revelation of the inner workings of a Texas music scene, and Texas songwriter, that had a prolific influence on American music in the late twentieth century.