Delta Blues

Ted Gioia, Author, Neil Harpe, Illustrator . Norton $27.95 (449p) ISBN 978-0-393-06258-8

Gioia (The History of Jazz ) succeeds admirably in the daunting task of crafting a comprehensive history of the art form known as the blues, depicting the life story of the music from its cradle in the Mississippi Delta all the way to its worldwide influence on contemporary sounds. His sweeping examination focuses on the legends in detail, including Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King and many more. He often deconstructs myths, such as the story that both Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson made midnight deals with the devil at the crossroads, and digs deep to clarify many murky stories, including “untruths and wild speculations” about the life and early death of Robert Johnson. His narrative follows the northern migration of the blues to Chicago, where Muddy Waters recorded for Chess Records, and along the way he analyzes the influence of Delta blues on Elvis, the Rolling Stones and other rock 'n' roll icons. Gioia dissects many songs, but he doesn't write beyond the understanding of general readers, creating the rare combination of a tome that is both deeply informative and enjoyable to read. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/14/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-393-06999-0
Paperback - 449 pages - 978-0-393-33750-1
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