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Overview

This book brings together some of the most significant writings about the blues published between 1911 and 1998. Included are selections by folklorists, anthropologists, sociologists, literary artists, musicians, critics, and aficionados." "From these various perspectives emerges a new understanding of the blues: its origins in African aesthetics; the impact of slavery and Reconstruction on it; its early folk manifestations; and the importance of religion, style, gender, audience, protest, and the record business in its development as an art form. Further context is provided by a comprehensive introduction, section overviews, and an extensive bibliography, discography, and videography of blues materials.
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
This outstanding scholarly effort assembles nearly 50 writings on the historical and musicological evolution of blues music and lyrics from their African roots to the present day. These essays, originally published between 1911 and 1998, convey the valuable insights of such distinguished writers as Alan Lomax, Langston Hughes, Paul Oliver, Sam Charters, James Baldwin, Leroi Jones, and Angela Davis, among other noted folklorists, musicians, critics, and blues aficionados. The essays are grouped into ten parts: Africa and the Blues; Before and Alongside the Blues; Folklore and the Blues; The Blues and Religion; Style; Performance; Racism and Social Protest; On the Record; Literature, Criticism, and the Blues; and The Blues as Influence. Preceded by insightful introductory material, the writings are followed by an extensive discography, bibliography, videography, and list of useful Internet resources. It should be noted that this is not light reading for the casual music fan. Readers who are not already familiar with and interested in the blues are unlikely to be turned on to the music by the serious, academic tone that characterizes most of the articles in this informative volume. The majority of these writings, however fascinating they may be to students of the blues, could not accurately be described as entertaining; however, for any reader who truly cares about blues music and wants to delve more deeply into its historical, literary, and aesthetic depths, this collection of essays is an invaluable resource. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, University of Massachusetts, 603p, illus, notes, bibliog, discog,index, 26cm, 99-18332, $28.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Jeffrey Cooper; Writer/Editor, Long Island, NY, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
Booknews
Contains some 50 selected articles by contributors including Alan Lomax, Angela Davis, Langston Hughes, and others, organized into sections addressing the blues and Africa, history, folklore, religion, style, performance, racism, recording, literature, and influence. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558492066
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 11/16/1999
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 1,126,537
  • Product dimensions: 7.03 (w) x 10.02 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
A Note on the Readings 8
Defining the Blues 10
Pt. 1 Africa and the Blues
African Influence on the Music of the Americas 17
From "Blues: The Conflict of Cultures" 28
Song Structure and Social Structure 32
African Influence on the Blues 57
Africa and the Blues 63
Echoes of the Jungle? 69
Pt. 2 Before and Alongside the Blues
From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written By Himself 81
Slave and Post-Slave 83
From "Primitive Blues and Primitive Jazz" 89
Do the Bombashay: Dance Songs and Routines 95
From "Folk and Popular Blues" 119
Pt. 3 Folklore and the Blues
Folk-Song and Folk-Poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern Negroes 133
Double Meaning in the Popular Negro Blues 172
I Got the Blues 180
The Singer and the Bluesman: Formulations of Personality in the Lyrics of the Blues 195
Oral Formulas in the Country Blues 201
Pt. 4 The Blues and Religion
From "My Adventures as a Social Poet" 217
From "Role and Response" 218
The Blues as a Secular Religion 222
The Blues: A Secular Spiritual 231
The Police and the Church 252
Pt. 5 Style
The Blues Harp, Parts One and Two 261
January, 1925 276
From "The Greening of the Delta Blues" 279
B. B. King: Analysis of the Artist's Evolving Guitar Technique 282
Pt. 6 Performance
Negro "Blues" Singers: An Appreciation of Three Coloured Artists 315
Ma Rainey 319
Happy New Year! with Memphis Minnie 321
Liner Notes to black is brown and brown is beautiful 323
Juke Boy's Blues 326
From "Big Bobby Blue Bland on Stage" 328
From "Wasn't only my songs, they got my music too" 334
Pt. 7 Racism and Social Protest
From "Living Blues Interview: Eddie Boyd" 343
From The Poetry of the Blues 352
From "The Songs: Formulaic Structure and Meaning in Early Downhome Blues" 361
Pt. 8 On the Record
The Social Context of Black Swan Records 367
From "Wasn't only my songs, they got my music too" 377
Pt. 9 Literature, Criticism, and the Blues
Songs Called the Blues 391
Sonny's Blues 394
From The Poetry of the Blues 416
Any Day Now: Black Art and Black Liberation 422
Popular Songs vs. The Facts of Life 434
The Blues Roots of Contemporary Afro-American Poetry 445
Introduction to Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature 456
I Used To Be Your Sweet Mama: Ideology, Sexuality, and Domesticity 470
Pt. 10 The Blues as Influence
From "Charlie Parker: The Burden of Innovation" 509
A Lighter Shade of Blue: White Country Blues 514
Fixin' to Die 531
From "Whites Versus Blacks" 540
A Blues Discography 547
Select Discography: Pre-World War II Blues 551
Select Discography: Post-World War II Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Jazz 559
Select Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources 571
Videography 579
The Blues Internet Connection 581
Index 583
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