Tuesday 2 February 2010

Beautiful Mess : The Story of Diamond Rio

The blurb on the back of the book says, "If your only exposure to Diamond Rio is the band's flawlessly layered harmonies and tender lyrics, you only know a fraction of the story." Well, if you live in Europe, the chances are you won't have even heard of Diamond Rio at all because they, and the whole genre of country music, is basically unheard of. If you ask your average Brit to name a country singer, you might possibly get a tentative Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline or "err that bloke who did Country Roads Take Me Home" if you're lucky ! There was a bit of a trend for line dancing a few years back but apart from Achy Breaky Heart, country music still never got a foot in the door !

Well, I was introduced to Diamond Rio by some online friends who set out to convert me when I snorted in disdain when they said they liked country music and I have to admit, I was a pushover. Songs like I Believe and One More Day are easy on the ear but also offer up some great lyrics, and some of their songs have lines that are guaranteed to make me smile like "Buy an ice cream, Jump in the car, See how far you can drive before it melts". It takes me back to carefree summer days as a kid !

I didn't actually know a great deal about the band members themselves or their history, but I was hoping to find out some of the stories behind the lyrics, as they seem so heartfelt they must surely be based on real-life experiences. Well, the book doesn't offer any insight into the lyrics - so maybe they are just pure fiction. But the group's story is fascinating enough in itself that it doesn't matter.

We're so used to reading about big stars and their diva-esque behaviour that it's really rare and comforting to hear about a bunch of genuinely nice, down-to-earth guys who made it big. Even if you know nothing about Diamond Rio, their story is the classic American dream and is a heartwarming tale that's as wholesome and typically American as a slice of homecooked apple pie. (I love the fact that there's a theme park based on country music ! Try transporting that outside of the States !)

The book is packed full of pictures and anecdotes from the band members' public and private lives and you feel like you really get to know them, so you feel for them and are really rooting for them when they face hardships and difficulties. It takes a lot of humility and honesty for one of America's top groups to admit that they went through a rough patch and performed badly for a couple of years, but they rode out the storm, keeping the values of friendship and loyalty at the forefront, and are back on top form now.

If you like Diamond Rio, you'll love it, but even if you don't know them, it's a fascinating slice of Americana that offers an insight into the trials and tribulations of a bunch of nice guys trying (and succeeding) to make it big in the music industry.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : $24.99 (comes with free downloadable audiobook and ebook format)

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 Har/Dow/ edition (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595552685
ISBN-13: 978-1595552686

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