So says Amiri Baraka in the Introduction to Blues People, his classic work on the place of jazz and blues in American social, musical, economic, and cultural history. From the music of African slaves in the United States through the music scene of the 1960's, Baraka traces the influence of what he calls "negro music" on white America -- not only in the context of music and pop culture but also in terms of the values and perspectives passed on through the music. In tracing the music, he brilliantly illuminates the influence of African Americans on American culture and history.
âThe essential history of this distinctly American genre.ââAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionIn this âexpertly researched, elegantly written, dispassionate yet thoughtful historyâ (Gary Giddins), award-winning author Ted Gioia gives us âthe rare combination of a tome that is both deeply informative and enjoyable to readâ (Publishers Weekly, starred review). From the field hollers of nineteenth-century plantations to Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Delta Blues delves into the uneasy mix of race and money at the point where traditional music became commercial and bluesmen found new audiences of thousands. Combining extensive fieldwork, archival research, interviews with living musicians, and first-person accounts with âhis own calm, argument-closing incantations to draw a line through a century of Delta bluesâ (New York Times), this engrossing narrative is flavored with insightful and vivid musical descriptions that ensure âan understanding of not only the musicians, but the music itselfâ (Boston Sunday Globe). Rooted in the thick-as-tar Delta soil, Delta Blues is already âa contemporary classic in its fieldâ (Jazz Review). 38 illustrations
"Blues, being the wellspring of all American music for over a century, is always worth studying. Robert does it right." --Keith Richards
"An emotional map of musical Memphis. If you don't know these characters, let Robert Gordon introduce you." --Elvis Costello
"Robert Gordon's book is proof that Southern heritage is American heritage, and all sorts of people--black and white, familiar and strange, dead and alive--are what it is." --Greil Marcus
Profiles and stories of Southern music from the acclaimed author of Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion.
The fabled city of Memphis has been essential to American music--home of the blues, the birthplace of rock and roll, a soul music capital. We know the greatest hits, but celebrated author Robert Gordon takes us to the people and places history has yet to record. A Memphis native, he whiles away time in a crumbling duplex with blues legend Furry Lewis, stays up late with barrelhouse piano player Mose Vinson, and sips homemade whiskey at Junior Kimbrough's churning house parties. A passionate listener, he hears modern times deep in the grooves of old records by Lead Belly and Robert Johnson.
The interconnected profiles and stories in Memphis Rent Party convey more than a region. Like mint seeping into bourbon, Gordon gets into the wider world. He beholds the beauty of mistakes with producer Jim Dickinson (Replacements, Rolling Stones), charts the stars with Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star), and mulls the tragedy of Jeff Buckley's fatal swim. Gordon's Memphis inspires Cat Power, attracts Townes Van Zandt, and finds James Carr always singing at the dark end of the street.
A rent party is when friends come together to hear music, dance, and help a pal through hard times; it's a celebration in the face of looming tragedy, an optimism when the wolf is at the door. Robert Gordon finds mystery in the mundane, inspiration in the bleakness, and revels in the individualism that connects these diverse encounters.