THE HISTORY OF THE BLUES: THE ROOTS, THE MUSIC, THE PEOPLE...
BY FRANCIS DAVIS HYPERION, NY, 1995.
IF you ever read a book on The Blues- this is the book to
read. From Pre- History to the mid 90's the Blues are
ROCK and roll fans as well as R&B lovers will find their
roots here too. The short essays on Blues performers are
indeed a vital contribution to black history. The reader
may find that a lot of popular music myth started with the
COULD it be that in 1923 a rather ugly but extremely popular
female blues singer set the standard for every POP-ROCK
performance that followed? Ma Rainey was her name and for
her day she incorperated elaborate set designs, outrageous
costumes with her soul shaking vocals delivered with spirited
struts and sashays! Shades of Elton John!
JUST who came up with the idea of selling ones' self to
the devil for musical success and popularity? Was it Robert
Johnson? (Johnson's songs and lyrics covered by groups like
the Stones and Led ZEP.) Or was it something already entrenched
in black mythology of his times.
THE author, Davis, makes a strong case that those famous
Robert Johnson tunes were borrowed, adapted or influenced
by previous black bluesmen. "Crossroads Blues" he believes
was taken from Charlie Patton's 1929 song "Down The Dirt
IF Rock's British invasion was steeped in American Black
Blues - Was the Folk movement inspired by LEDBELLY? Davis
makes the case.
INDEED it was BOB DYLAN'S HWY 61 that Bessie Smith died
on under mysterious circumstances!
MY favorite story from THE HISTORY OF THE BLUES is one of
Canned Heat's founder "Blind Owl" Wilson (he wasn't blind
that was kind of a tribute to all the Blind boy black bluesmen
like Blind Lemon Jefferson but he was the high range vocal
on "Going Up The Country" and "On The Road Again.") rediscovering
Blues pioneer SON HOUSE who had'nt played in years. Here
the white boy, Wilson, re teaches Son House how he played
his own songs long ago.
ALSO fascinating is the story of the interplay between Willie
Dixon, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. It was Dixon who wrote
"Hoochie Coochie Man", "Spoonful," "Backdoor Man," and "Walking
The Dog." I found The History Of The Blues great bedside
reading - You may too!
Rock On Boomers!
BOOKS, MUSIC & COMMENTARY WITH B.D. POE
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