Book Review: I’ve Been There and Back Again by Joy McKean

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book review - i've been there and back by joy mckean

Slim Dusty and Joy McKean’s lifetime of travel, stories and songs

I've Been There (And Back Again): Slim Dusty and Joy McKean's lifetime of travel, stories and songsI’ve Been There (And Back Again): Slim Dusty and Joy McKean’s lifetime of travel, stories and songs by Joy McKean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You don’t have to be a country music fan to get a lot from this book. Any writer or songwriter or poet can learn a lot from Joy McKean’s authentic voice.

This is the story of a talented musician and songwriter who married Slim Dusty, one of Australian’s most famous musicians. Together they were the Johnny Cash and June Carter of Australian country music (without the boozy scandals of course) making an unrivalled contribution to the Australian music industry. But this isn’t a book of bragging and name dropping, it’s a humble and honest journey of a wife, mother, artist, and woman. Joy McKean.

The book is more than a biography and memoir. As a songwriter and poet, Joy presents 26 of the songs they [Joy and Slim] wrote and uses them to build a captivating narrative of their life on the road as travelling musicians. Working through each of the songs a story unfolds: her husband’s burning desire for success; his strength in saying no to family expectations to pursue his goals; joining forces as musical acts, her own character as a mother raising children on the road; the dedication to her art; their steady progress as artists, reaching the pinnacle of Australian music success.

Joy speaks about each of her songs with love and takes the reader (with plenty of photographs along the way) back to the places where those songs were written. Not just the physical places, but the places in her heart too. There’s a lot to be learned from her creative process and (if you are a Slim Dusty fan) those songs will generate a lot more meaning next time you listen to them.

I’ve Been There and Back Again is about a time now past, working on the road in outback Australia from the 40s-80s. Dirt roads, pubs, crowds, circuses, hardship. All the things this amazing family did to make music their living and the incredible life they created. Students of success can learn a lot about the stamina, perseverance and passion required to really make it. I loved it.

The only reason I didn’t mark this book 5/5 is because of a hardware issue (nothing to do wth the writing). The kindle version is a bit hard to use. The content has obviously been copied from the print book and made into an eBook. Because of this the zoom feature doesn’t work well and sometimes the content locks up and you have to close kindle completely then reopen to keep reading. The table of contents doesn’t work either.

Also I would have liked to have seen Joy on the cover rather than her husband. After all, she wrote the book and most of the songs.

The content however was 5/5 — buy the print book.

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© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine

book review - i've been there and back by joy mckean