Ramblin' Tommy Scott:
New Book Available

Posted June 30, 2007 - brown135@hotmail.com

Overlooked amidst the headlines of such cultural import as Paris Hilton's jail sentence and the debut of the iPhone this week was the publishing event of the season - though one destined to occur far outside the purview of the New York Times' Bestseller List or Oprah's Book Club.

I refer to the mind-boggling "Snake Oil, Super Stars, and Me," a 698-page, self-published autobiography of (Ramblin') Doc Tommy Scott, medicine show survivor, touring machine (he says he's played 29,000 different towns), and country boogie artist supreme ("Rockin' and Rollin" on Federal [from 1951!], "Tennessee" on Macy's, "Alley Cat Blues" on Bullet, etc). Tommy will turn 90 years old this year, and he's amazingly still going strong - to which he credits a lifetime consumption of good old Herb-O-Lac snake oil.

Tommy never became famous, but he sure seems to have had a more fulfilling life than most people who have. There are no "Nashville Babylon" moments in these pages, no tales of drug addiction, alcoholic excess, or sexual depravity, which undoubtedly ensures low sales. For the most part, it seems to have been a life of fun, comaraderie, theater, and music on the open road, occuring mostly in a simple, small-town America that the "entertainment industry" has completely wiped off the map and out of memory.

"If you don't recognize the name Tommy Scott, don't worry about it overmuch," he writes philosophically. "Most of the ones who do recognize it think I am dead anyway. But do remember the Old Time Medicine Man, for I represent, in a good way, all the Medicine Men (and a few women) that have come before me. They ushered in the entertainment known as 'Country Music' today." He concludes by looking forward to meeting God so he can "take off my red hat, give it a twirl and a pop, and offer Him a bottle of Snake Oil to ease the aches and pains of what he sees His children enduring on this earth ... I hope to walk around Heaven and visit all those old time Medicine Men ... "

The book is illustrated with hundreds of photos, and while I wish the reproduction would have been better, there's really no sense in criticizing a book like this. As Ronny Weiser wrote when reviewing the first reissue of Jerry Lee Lewis's unissued Sun recordings in the early '70s, "How do you review a miracle?"

Finally, if you're a bit concerned about the "Super Stars" in the title - wary of endless meaningless anecdotes about stupid Nashville hat acts - don't be. Tommy's definition of the word extends only to people like Stringbean, Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie Monroe, Syd Nathan, Curley Williams, Clyde Moody, Tim McCoy, Fuzzy St. John, Junior Samples, Zeb Turner, Doc Brinkley, and Big Sandy and the Fly-Right Boys. Which is precisely my definition of "Super Stars" also.

"Snake Oil, Super Stars, and Me" is available for $35.00 postpaid from Tommy Scott, PO Box 100, Toccoa, Ga., 30577.

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