Language of the Blues

Language of the Blues

5.0 1
by Debra Desalvo
     
 

What is Gregg Allman talking about when he sings “The eagle flies on Friday, Saturday I go out to play”? Guess what? The Language of the Blues knows. Turns out “eagle”
represents the dollar that flies into a worker’s hand on payday.
Author Debra DeSalvo is ready to share her extensive research, authoritative knowledge, and…  See more details below

Overview

What is Gregg Allman talking about when he sings “The eagle flies on Friday, Saturday I go out to play”? Guess what? The Language of the Blues knows. Turns out “eagle”
represents the dollar that flies into a worker’s hand on payday.
Author Debra DeSalvo is ready to share her extensive research, authoritative knowledge, and witty writing style with every music lover who’s ever tried to fake it through a conversation at a blues club. A comprehensive A-to-Z dictionary of blues terminology is supplemented by excerpts from interviews with such legendary blues artists as Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, and Sam Lay. Get your mojo
(we all know that one, right?) working, and soon you’ll be woofin (boasting) with your cats (derived from the African Wolof word “katt,” meaning an accomplished singer). See how much you’ve learned already?

• Comprehensive dictionary of blues words lets listeners understand what they hear in blues songs and blues culture

• Great for music fans and anyone interested in language

• Includes excerpts from original interviews with Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Hubert Sumlin,
Jimmie Vaughn, Buddy Guy, and many others

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There have been several books published recently featuring the rich, colorful lexicon of the blues and its intriguing practitioners, but this volume by music journalist DeSalvo goes them one better with a thoroughly researched dictionary of blues slang. As she writes in the preface, "Blues artists-looking to steal from the best, like all songwriters-nicked words and phrases from the numbers runners, hookers, drag queens, thieves, junkies, pimps, moonshiners, hoodoo doctors, dealers, rounders, and con artists who made up the street set." In explaining the familiar ("cool") and obscure ("honey dripper"), DeSalvo gives not only the phrase's origins but its ongoing history and current applications. Thus readers learn that the term "balling the jack" was originally a conductor's way of saying a train was moving at top speed; by the 1920s, it had come to signify "any wild, all-out-effort"; from there, it turned into a song by Chris Smith and James Henry Burris; then, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly performed "Balling the Jack" in the 1942 film Me and My Gal; etc. The definitions are supported with a lively narrative and interviews with blues stalwarts including Little Milton, Bonnie Raitt, Hubert Sumlin and Jody Williams. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823083893
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2006
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.95(w) x 9.05(h) x 0.55(d)

Meet the Author

Debra DeSalvo, an associate editor for Blues Revue and a columnist for
Rolling Stone Online, has interviewed many blues legends and coauthored five books. A professional guitarist,
composer, and singer, she lives in Hoboken, NJ.

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Language of the Blues 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Henry_Berry More than 1 year ago
Every reader will pick up something new about lyrics, terms and phrases, noted cities and neighborhoods, instruments, performers, lore, and other aspects of this always popular and colorful style of music. With occasional material from interviews with top names in blues and closely-related types of popular music in entries as long as essays of three or so pages to as short as a couple of lines, DeSalvo relates origins of words and phrases, gives examples when relevant, describes nuances in different styles, locates the origins and outlines the course of different traditions, explains details of instruments and techniques of playing them, and draws profiles of significant singers and instrumentalists. And she includes considerable colorful lore and terminology unknown to only the most knowledgeable aficionados which can only add to enjoyment of the blues with more casual fans. A lively, informative, eminently readable companion to blues music in all its history and manifestations.