Foreward by Kathleen Hudson
Other music autobiographies give us the culture and history surrounding the artist, the circumstances of his or her life. Vince Bell does this; he also invites us to enter his personal realm of suffering and to attempt to heal along with him, compelling us to look deeply at our own relationship to pain and struggle.
But this is more than a story about a tragic car accident that left Vince in a coma for four weeks. A Foreword presents a few words before the body of the book, but it should also let us look forward to the book. Vince Bell's story is ultimately uplifting and inspiring, a story of pain, suffering and also hope woven into one rich tapestry that is, indeed, one man's music. We all have songs to sing and stories to tell; Vince Bell invites us into his head to hear his songs and his stories.
Vince Bell is often mentioned along with Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Stevie Ray Vaughan (who was playing with him on his last session before the wreck), Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Lucinda Williams, and his songs have been performed and recorded by Little Feat, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith, and others. And for good reason do these troubadours choose his words to sing. No one can tell this story quite like Vince. He describes scenes that we can see, feel, and smell, such as an icy blast of cold air in a room with Townes Van Zandt. Or the texture of a mouthful of beets that he can't taste because the tasting part of his brain has not yet healed.
Seeing the healing through his eyes and heart gives the reader a chance to understand a man motivated by a rare calling, the pull of his art from death to life. As a student of literature for over 45 years, I see his story in a literary context; we can compare him to Kafka, Rimbaud, Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver, all men who had to tell their story as part of their choice to live.
We not only hear Vince's story, but we also read the stories of those around him through interviews. That choice takes us on a full circle around the event. What friends saw happening to him becomes as important as what he felt inside. Vince's essays on life through and around his guitar add another context to this book. Reading the book provides a well-rounded version of one man's life, reminding us that much can be gained from gathering other perspectives on how we live our own life.
Many would give up, when Vince just asked for more opportunities to fail in the hope that one day he would emerge victorious. Now time finds Vince visiting conferences and schools across the country, telling his story in an effort to encourage and educate. This book documents the journey, thus calling us to question our own journey through life. Are we still on the court playing ball as is Vince Bell? Do we value life enough to work this hard? Finishing this book will leave you with your own serious questions to answer. One just might be: "What would I have done?"
Sam Phillips wrote the foreword for my first book on Texas songwriters. That fact alone reminds me of the privilege I have in writing a foreword for Vince's story of his life, his music, his journey. Just as Sam let others know to look forward to my book, so I want you to look forward to all you'll learn in Vince's story.
- Prof. Kathleen Hudson
Author of “Women in Texas Music:
Stories and Songs” and