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A major figure in American blues and folk music, Big Bill Broonzy (1903-1958) left his Arkansas Delta home after World War I, headed north, and became the leading Chicago bluesman of the 1930s. His success came as he fused traditional rural blues with the electrified sound that was beginning to emerge in Chicago. This, however, was just one step in his remarkable journey: Big Bill was constantly reinventing himself, both in reality and in his retellings of it. Bob Riesman’s groundbreaking biography tells the compelling life story of a lost figure from the annals of music history.
I Feel So Good traces Big Bill’s career from his rise as a nationally prominent blues star, including his historic 1938 appearance at Carnegie Hall, to his influential role in the post-World War II folk revival, when he sang about racial injustice alongside Pete Seeger and Studs Terkel. Riesman’s account brings the reader into the jazz clubs and concert halls of Europe, as Big Bill's overseas tours in the 1950s ignited the British blues-rock explosion of the 1960s. Interviews with Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, and Ray Davies reveal Broonzy’s profound impact on the British rockers who would follow him and change the course of popular music.
Along the way, Riesman details Big Bill’s complicated and poignant personal saga: he was married three times and became a father at the very end of his life to a child half a world away. He also brings to light Big Bill’s final years, when he first lost his voice, then his life, to cancer, just as his international reputation was reaching its peak. Featuring many rarely seen photos, I Feel So Good will be the definitive account of Big Bill Broonzy’s life and music.
|Publisher:||University of Chicago Press|
|Product dimensions:||8.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Bob Riesman is coeditor of Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage. He produced and co-wrote the television documentary American Roots Music: Chicago, and was a contributor to Routledge’s Encyclopedia of the Blues.
Table of Contents
Foreword Peter Guralnick ix
Appreciation Pete Townshend xiii
1 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 1
2 My Name is William Lee Conley Broonzy 6
3 When Will I Get to be Called a Man? 21
4 Let's Go Away from Here! 39
5 "I'm Gonna Play This Guitar Tonight from A to Z!" 55
6 Serve it to Me Right 70
7 State Street Boys 83
8 Just a Dream 91
9 Big Bill and Josh are Here to Play the Blues for You 98
10 Preachin' the Blues 115
11 Blues at Midnight 124
12 "That's the Nicest Guy I Ever Met in My Life" 139
13 Stranger in a Strange Land 147
14 Nourish Yourself on Big Bill 156
15 "Be Proud of What You Are!" 167
16 Too Many Isms 186
17 Low Light and Blue Smoke 204
18 "A Requiem for the Blues" 225
Selected Discography 259
Bill of Film 263