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At long last, a thorough, satisfying exploration of Willie Dixon, thanks to Japanese-born musicologist Inaba. Dixon, Inaba says, was drove the successful growth of the post–WWII blues style born in the Mississippi Delta and developed at Chicago’s Chess Records. More than merely plugging a guitar into an amplifier, Dixon shepherded this evolution by writing lyrics that welded traditional wisdom and cultural references from the rural south to urban images and experiences, and then setting them to simple, driving music. Inaba locates Dixon within African American culture, describing the environment in which he was born, delving into the complexity of his religious beliefs, and providing insight into black cultural patterns. This enables Inaba to identify nuances in Dixon’s writing that elevate his songs from entertainment to poetry. Inaba also shows how Dixon ensured the successes of Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and other popular blues musicians by writing songs specifically tailored for each singer’s personality and musical strengths. Extensively researched, Inaba’s volume fully exposes Dixon as a multifaceted blues innovator and essential presence in American music.