A Heartbeat and a Guitar
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Among The Progressive's Favorite Books of 2009!

A Heartbeat and a Guitar by Antonino D'Ambrosio

In this remarkable new work, writer and filmmaker Antonino D’Ambrosio tells the astonishing and dramatic story behind Johnny Cash’s virtually unknown folk protest record Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.  Recorded four years before his live performance at Folsom Prison and six years before he recorded “Man in Black,” Cash, by making Bitter Tears, placed himself in the middle of the fervent social upheavals gripping the nation at the time Cash faced censorship and an angry backlash from radio stations, DJs, and fans, for speaking out on behalf of Native people on Bitter Tears. Cash decided to fight back. 

At once grand and intimate, A Heartbeat and a Guitar
presents another side of Johnny Cash by illuminating the music’s legend’s collaboration with little known folk artist Peter La Farge on the album. It also tells of the unique personal, political, and cultural struggles that informed this album—especially the fight for Native people’s rights—one that has influenced scores of musicians and activists from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks and Native activist-artist John Trudell, the latter was instrumental in the 1968 takeover of Alcatraz.

Weaving multiple narrative threads and bringing in the stories of the long forgotten Native war hero Ira Hayes (immortalized in the Iwo Jima flag-raising photo), legendary musicians and producers, courageous Native activists, polarizing political leaders, and outspoken citizen-artists, D’Ambrosio’s A Heartbeat and a Guitar
tells a sweeping story of an untold moment in Cash’s career. This inimitable account—which includes original cover art from Shepard Fairey and 34 never before seen photos by photographs by Jim Marshall and Diana Davies. — creates a dramatic picture of an era of cultural transformation from alternating perspectives—from the studio and the street— presenting Cash as a musician who believed in the power of music to help rouse a new social movement.

Recent Media

The Winding Road Interview w/Nation Books Author D'Ambrosio featuring A Heartbeat & a Guitar

Let Fury Have the Hour teaser trailer featuring Ozomatli.

Antonino D'Ambrosio featured in The Nation "What Are You Watching?" section.

Two-hour radio special celebrating Johnny Cash's birthday on WGRN 89.5 and wgrn.net
Pieces on Antonino and John Carter Cash reviving this "lost album"at Reuters, Rolling Stone, and American Songwriter.

Antonino D'Ambrosio featured on KPFK's Bibliocracy

Goldmine magazine  Antonino D'Ambrosio profile with feature on A Heartbeat and a Guitar

LA Weekly Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash, Antonino D'Ambrosio & Shepard Fairey

ObeyGiant.com Shepard Fairey & Antonino D'Ambrosio

Pirate Car Radio Two-Hour Special Interview with Antonino

Chuck D "On the Real" interview with Antonino

Read the Boston Globe article on A Heartbeat and a Guitar.

Antonino on the Laura Flanders' Show.

Read Antonino's recent Salon.com piece "The Bitter Tears of Johnny Cash."

Check out a teaser film clip of Antonino's book tour.

Listen to Antonino on the John Rothman Show here (KGO ABC San Francisco)

On the Pat Thurston Show here (KGO ABC San Fransisco)

And his interview on Alternet.com here

Copyright © 2009 by Nation Books