Review: The Farewell Tour Stephanie Clifford

Review by Irene M. Pearcey

I have read several reviews of the Farewell Tour by reviewers far more esteemed than myself. They
have interpreted The Farewell Tour as a statement about the struggles of a female singer, songwriter and
musician trapped in a world dominated by men. I found it to be more than that.

It is a book about music, about country music in particular and the struggle one woman has to achieve
stardom in a world dominated by men. It is a novel about a washed-up has been country music singer
and song-writer but it is so much more than that. Ms. Clifford takes the reader on a tour of country music
and some of country music's greatest and most memorable stars...., Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Patsy
Cline and Dolly Parton and our main characters struggle to become a country music legend herself.
Ms. Clifford also tells us the story of Lillian Waters and the lies she has told herself for too many years.
Lies that have lead to a life of drug and alcohol abuse, lies that will one day have to be confronted if she
is ever to find peace.
In chapters that alternate between the "now" (1980) and Water Lil's past we learn of her musical
struggles in a "man's" world, we get snippets of her abusive past, and the strained relationship she has
with her older sister "Hen". At the tender age of 10 Lillian learns how to use sex to get what she wants,
and what she wants is a Gretsch guitar from Judge Feasley --- "I learned to drink, learned that a slug of
whiskey prior to vising his study would make it seem even less like me in there with him ---" and when
Judge Feasley wanted her to become his housekeeper she moved on, to Tacoma working as a waitress
and picking up radio spots that were left vacant as WW II raged on and the male musical talents left for
Europe or the Pacific. She sang --"Sundays at 5 a.m., between reports about weather and Winnipeg
wheat prices and Chicago hog markets, I sang songs as the sun came up to the farmer that I used to
be.” And then the war ended and those spots were no longer available, Water Lil moved on in search of
an elusive musical career.
Years of one-night stands, honky tonks and county fairs--- from Bakersfield to Pasadena to Reno and
finally Nashville--- where she gets her big break, a contract. "Water Lil"cuts her first record and sings at
the Grand Ole Oprey with Loretta Lynn. She has made it but the booze, the drugs and her sharp tongue
is taking its toll, her band has left her, her agent is tired of making excuses for her and she learns that the
polyps on her vocal chords will end it all. It's 1980 and desperate for a legacy that is a reflection of her
talent rather than her years of drug and alcohol abuse, she cobbles together a back-up band and heads
out on her "Farewell Tour".
Her final destination is Walla Walla, Washington, the farm and family she left years ago. It is here that
she will finally confront the reality of her pain and the fabricated memories of her 10 year-old self. It is on
her Farewell Tour Water Lil has to confront the abuse she has dished out to fans and her band members.
It is here she will confront the lies she has told herself because lies have a day of reckoning and for
Lillian Waters that day of reckoning is at the end of her Farewell Tour on a county road in Washington