I finished your book in three or four days about a week ago. It is beautifully written, scholarly, yet readable for all, and unusually observant, sensitive, and appreciative in its character studies. Having been a pastor of a small United Methodist Church in RURAL northwest New Jersey (1971-1979 ), 60 miles from NYC, the closest thing I know to your character studies are funeral "eulogies." I know the time and thought and creative effort that it takes to compose a good one. A good eulogy is respectful, positive, but if done in the right spirit, it can--and should--point out personality quirks. Yours are superb. 

Here are the scattered notes that I wrote when I closed your book: Your recollections have captured and preserved the last of a long tradition with continuity--a community for whom images in the texts spoke directly to and from their experiences ("a might rocky road"), a unified belief system that raised a deep community consensus and world-view to its highest personal expression through singing. This gave an intangible quality to and experience of the music that no matter how "well" sung, can no longer (or far less commonly) occur. Singers a generation from now will not be able to "know" this. You have captured in part some of the last moments of the dynamics of the tradition that will be lost because the "original species" is going extinct. In spite of increasing numbers of singers--and especially because of their widely varying cultural and spiritual backgrounds--the future will evolve into something resembling, but different, from what you have known and related. Your vision of the individuals you portray presents a deeper understanding and a more accurate portrayal because of your own roots within the culture. You speak from within the tradition, yet also from without, because of your wider experience.  There was never a point in my reading when I thought, "This is too detailed, or who cares, or let's get on to the next part." A rare experience, indeed, with a book. Of course, I love the tradition, too, and knew some of the people. I now know them so much better. Really, no one character study seemed better than another. Two of my favorites were of the quirky Buford McGraw and Charles Creel. And the study of Amanda was wonderful. 

John Lawrence Brasher
 
 
Buell Cobb's Like Cords around My Heart is a rich account of some of the people who have kept the Sacred Harp tradition alive well into the twenty-first century. Often fascinating, at times touching, the author's prose powerfully carries the reader along much as Sacred Harp singing carries along its devotees and keeps them coming back again and again.

As one who only knows Sacred Harp from afar, I found myself caught up in its spell as the author took me through the crowd of singers who sit around "the hollow square," introducing this one and then that one. A keen observer of human nature, Cobb gives us insights into the personalities and convictions of these people that only one could give who is both an "insider" and a gifted writer.

Those who go faithfully to the singings will likely find much to cherish about this tribute to their art and to so many intriguing characters, but I can imagine that a few may fuss a bit over someone he left out or some case where their memory is different from his. But overall, my guess is that this book itself will be viewed as a treasured gift by the Sacred Harp community.

Cobb frequently describes the traditional lunch, overflowing with much to delight the palate, always held in the midst of each all-day songfest. In a tip of the hat to the author's adroit use of figures of speech, we have to say this book itself is a veritable feast for those who want to know the characters behind a sustained tradition, as well as for those who just enjoy a well-written book.

Thomas A. Jones
 
 
This is a must have for Sacred Harp singers. Buell introduces us to some outstanding singers in a way which gives us a deeper understanding of this passion we share. My only regret was that the stories had to end. And if you aren't a singer the book gives you a glimpse into the history of a part of America that has been evolving for centuries here and now taking root across the world. The people make this tradition what it is and thanks to Buell I know more of them.

Sandie, Amazon review
 
 
If I had to recommend one book to persons wanting to learn about Sacred Harp singing it would be Buell Cobb's masterful memoir. The only way to top this book would be to have it made into a movie complete with singing. Highly recommended.

Harry Eskew, co-author of "Sing with Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Hymnology."
 
 
I just finished your new book, and it was WONDERFUL!  I always tell people that stories are my "lens to the world", and I can see that your world view is likely similar.  Obviously, I loved all the Sacred Harp parts of the story, but I also felt a powerful understanding of that part of the world and that time (over the decades.)
 
I've made more highlights in this book than any other I've ever read, and will be revisiting it often!

Mairye Bates

 
 
I know some of the people written about in this book, and I have encountered the author many many times at Sacred Harp singings. So when the announcement came that his long-awaited book was available on Kindle, I sprained my fingers rushing to amazon.com to download it. I am *not* disappointed. Cobb says that he aims to write as if speaking and that is the perfect style for this kind of book. I can "hear" him as I am reading. I've long admired Cobb's skill at noticing and observing the people and activities around him. He then takes these noticings and observations and mixes in his storyteller's ability to put us right there with him. For those who were not privileged, as he was, to experience and encounter the people doing Sacred Harp in the 1970s to the present, Cobb has revealed who they were, what they were like, and why he (and now we) will never forget them.

K. E. Willard
 
 
I downloaded the Kindle version of this book on Saturday night. I finished reading the book Monday night. That's the kind of book it is, especially if you love Sacred Harp.

Buell Cobb is the master chonicler of Sacred Harp music. And this book is an essential and wonderful experience.

If you already know Sacred Harp music, stop reading this review right now, and go buy the book. You absolutely won't regret it.

If you don't know much about Sacred Harp music, this book may be a little bit like diving into the deep-end of the pool. You will probably get caught up in the excitement, the warmth, and the passion of this peculiar music and its adherents. This book is very much the story of Buell's personal journey through Sacred Harp and the wonderful people he has encountered along the way. But if you're new to Sacred Harp you may be missing some context. In which case I heartily recommend Buell's first book, The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music.

Like Cords Around My Heart is one of those books you will pull out to re-read passages that were particularly striking to you, or made you laugh out loud. And often you will find yourself re-reading these passages aloud for the pure pleasure of hearing the rhythm and music of Buell's words.

Reading this book is much like sitting around with Sacred Harp singers after a particularly good singing convention and listening to stories of singers past, of amazing leading, of foibles and kindness, and of a shared love.

William H. Waddington
 
 
A wonderfully engaging memoir from a most generous man about the Sacred Harp tradition. Buell Cobb is the tradition's storyteller. And these accounts will enrich and warm the heart of anyone who has ever encountered Sacred Harp singing.

William O. Price