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Music Biographies to read in new year.

Rick Fielding 02 Jan 02 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,James Trevor 02 Jan 02 - 12:12 PM
GUEST,Steve Latimer 02 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,HARVEY ANDREWS 02 Jan 02 - 02:39 PM
Benjamin 02 Jan 02 - 02:47 PM
Art Thieme 02 Jan 02 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,harvey andrews 02 Jan 02 - 05:19 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Jan 02 - 05:43 PM
Wesley S 02 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM
Helen 02 Jan 02 - 05:58 PM
53 02 Jan 02 - 09:31 PM
GUEST,frankie 02 Jan 02 - 10:20 PM
Jack the Sailor 02 Jan 02 - 11:17 PM
DonMeixner 02 Jan 02 - 11:42 PM
GUEST 03 Jan 02 - 09:05 AM
Ron Olesko 03 Jan 02 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Steve Latimer 03 Jan 02 - 10:35 AM
catspaw49 03 Jan 02 - 10:42 AM
Rick Fielding 04 Jan 02 - 12:03 AM
Art Thieme 04 Jan 02 - 12:19 AM
GUEST,Gern 04 Jan 02 - 08:54 AM
Ron Olesko 04 Jan 02 - 09:29 AM
Bat Goddess 04 Jan 02 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,harvey andrews 04 Jan 02 - 11:11 AM
GUEST 04 Jan 02 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Dale 04 Jan 02 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Dale 04 Jan 02 - 11:36 AM
Susanne (skw) 04 Jan 02 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,harvey andrews 04 Jan 02 - 07:44 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 02 - 03:40 AM
Susanne (skw) 05 Jan 02 - 11:40 AM
beachcomber 05 Jan 02 - 03:35 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 02 - 08:37 PM
Rolfyboy6 05 Jan 02 - 10:47 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 02 - 10:50 PM
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Subject: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 12:07 PM

Happy New Year to all.

I may have mentioned here that I haven't read a novel in ten years.....but still manage to have my nose stuck in a book for much of my waking hours. Autobiographies, Diaries, and biographies are my thing...split evenly between Music, history, political and baseball.

What are the must-read music biographies that have come out in the last four or five years? I've read the Bill Monroe, and ONE of the Ralph Stanley books. Looking forward to finding the Bob Gibson one....but sometimes these things are hard to find 'cause there's so little general interest.

It amazed me a few years ago that no one in British book stores had even HEARD of Ewan macColl, let alone carried "Journeyman" (got it from Peggy S. which was kind of a nice touch)

Anything come to mind? Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,James Trevor
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 12:12 PM

Sorry, slight thread creep.

I love Ewan MacColl's music, but I found "Journeyman" to be a strange and somewhat depressing read.

OK, he was a complex man, but still...

James


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM

I hope to read Willie Dixon's "I Am The Blues". Has anyone read it?


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,HARVEY ANDREWS
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 02:39 PM

Well Rick my friend, we share the same taste in reading so here's some tips on music biogs. I have a collection covering all sorts of music because the life of the musician in any field is very much the same, problems, obstacles, achievements etc. One of my all time favourites is "A life on the road" by Tony Palmer..it's about the clasical guitarist Julian Bream who comes out as a great big folkie at heart with a guitar case stuffed full of "readies" ( banknotes) after his gigs and a fascinating view of the world."Last train to Memphis" the first volume of Guralnick's biog of Presley is unputdownable as is the second, darker volume that charts the decline, but for anyone interested in any form of popular muisc the first volume is a must."The Harry Chapin Story" by P. Coan is a good read and there's "Jacques Brel" by A Clayson still awaiting me as is "There but for Fortune" the biog of Phil Ochs.And then there's the collected letters of Mozart and Beethoven.The way they were treated will ring some bells. If you never read another novel try "Crazy Heart" by Thomas Cobb. It's about a country singer at the end of his road but it rings so true and will have you laughing and crying at the same time. The biggest cluncker of the year has to be "Don't forget me" a really bad paste and statistics look at Eddie Cochran. Now diaries!!!!! Well, hopefully you'll have a rummage through my library in September!


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Benjamin
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 02:47 PM

This might drift a little, but Al Green's book Take me to the River is great book. I would highly recomend it.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 03:15 PM

Milton Mezz Mezzrow's "biography" of his life in jazz, REALLY THE BLUES is a classic or noir prose that lets one see the neon-late night-wet street reflections on tha pavement of New York's 52nd Street as well as any photograph of those times. I grew up in Chicago in a building where his brother lived. That family was NOTHING LIKE the infamous Mezz, who gave his name to the street name for a joint (marijuana cigarette). The book is mesmerizing--or should I say "Mezzmerizing". The original spelling of the family name was Mezirow and, for some reason, Mezz (the man not the cigarette) changed it by removing the "i".

About 50% (if that much) of the book is possibly even true. Mezz was a mediocre clarinetist at best--but he was there and he was doin' it.

The Signet paperback I've got of this magnificent tome has an introduction by HENRY MILLER ! (That's why I bought it originally.) It originally was put out by Random House in 1946--when I was 5 years old. Mine is a first printing from 1964. It's looking pretty well-read.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 05:19 PM

Couldn't agree more Art, I've still got my copy. I was a member of the Jazz Bookclub when I was a schoolboy and have fond memories of a history of the Original Dixieland Jazz band. How about "hear me talkin'to ya" Shapiro and Hentoff..great read.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 05:43 PM

BLOODY HELL! You folks are GREAT!

New stuff to find...old ones to re-read...way to go!

Art, I had "Really The Blues" for years and finally lent it to the person who forgot to give it back. I've forgotten who has it, needless to say THEY'VE forgotten it was on loan. Oh, how many books and records have we lost track of that way?

Mezz sounds like an absolutely FASCINATING guy. For those not familiar with him, he was sort of a "fifth wheel" in that great Chicago group of musicians (who I still listen to regularly) who stormed the world in the late twenties. He played fine in the ensemble sections, but couldn't solo to save his life (you can hear it on his records) but had that EXTRA value of being able to find any available pot when needed. He was also useful in writing arrangements quickly 'cause he learned to be a great 'reader' while in reform school. Not only did he change the spelling of his name, but he insisted to EVERYONE that he was BLACK! His crowning achievement was having "negro" stamped on his passport under 'race' during the forties. He ended up living and working in France a lot and hanging out with my hero Sidney bechet.

"Life on the Road" sounds very interesting, Harvey. Makes me wonder if the "Classical" guitarist has the same kind of adventures as the folkie.

Jacques Brel...Yeah, I know NUTHIN' about the guy. His image certainly seemed interesting.

Now here's one I highly reccommend. "We Called It Jazz" by veteran banjoist and tenor guitarist (and hustler) Eddie Condon. He talks about practically starving to death as a young guy in Chicago.
One of his stories concerns he and his band getting a cruise ship gig...with the drawback that Eddie (posing as the piano player) can only play in F! He says "I could play EVERYTHING in F...but ONLY in F!" The band goes crazy after a couple of nights! Apparently the listeners don't catch on.

The two Ochs books "There But For Fortune" and "Death of a Rebel" are intersting but really depressing by the time they get to where Phil senses he's not "needed" anymore.

James...I concur about the MacColl book.

Benjamin, I'll try and find the Al Green one.

Thanks for the input folks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Wesley S
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM

Although not a musical biography I found John Houston's { the director }autobiography called "An Open Book" fasinating.

I also enjoyed David Crosby's biography interesting - more for his recovery process than the descriptions of his addiction. And he knew a lot of interesting people when they were just getting started.

I'm looking for that Bill Monroe biography now. And I must admit that there is a twisted part of me that wants to read the George Jones story.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Helen
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 05:58 PM

I've decided to buy the book about Tim Buckley and Jeff Buckley. It's by David Browne, called Dream Brother. I've read some of the reviews and I think that it will be interesting to find out about their similarities and differences.

I recently bought two CD sets of Tim Buckley's music. One is a compilation, in chronological order, called Morning Glory. (I didn't know that TB wrote Song to the Siren, performed by This Mortal Coil a couple of decades ago.) The other one has 3 CD's in it: Tim Buckley, Lorca, and Greetings from LA. I've had Sefronia for years on vinyl, and I bought Jeff Buckley's first CD, Grace, when it first came out.

I'm moving towards reading biographies by preference to novels, although Nevil Shute's biography (not music, I know) got me started on collecting and then reading all of his novels.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: 53
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 09:31 PM

i'll tell glenda, she loves to read, me i barely can see much less read. BOB


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,frankie
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 10:20 PM

It's been around quite awhile but Hear Me Talking to Ya by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff is a fascinating oral history, like the stuff Studs Terkel does so well, about the early days of jazz. f


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 11:17 PM

I just finished reading Stan Rogers Bio "Unfinished Conversation" If you haven't read it Rick, I'm sure some of the names mentioned would be familiar. I really enjoyed "Moon" about The Who's colourful drummer. Albert Einstein's Bio was a slow read but full of fascinating history.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: DonMeixner
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 11:42 PM

I recently read Will Millar's Autobiography. The read was interesting but not great, the title escapes me. I like to read a biography of Grant Rogers.

Don


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 09:05 AM

Has anyone read the Moses Asch bio or the Harry Smith Interviews?

The titles of the two books escapes me right now. I'll look them up and post them later when I have time.

Great thread!


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 09:51 AM

Elijah Wald's biography of Josh White is a "must-read". Us "folkies" certainly know of White's music, but his life story is fascinating and Wald did an incredible job of research and telling the tale. I don't know why it has taken so long for the story to be told. This was one of my favorite books!


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:35 AM

I received Paul Oliver's The Story of the Blues for Christmas. I finished it the other day and was quite disappointed. I expected a lot more biographical information on a lot of the people who were instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of the Blues.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:42 AM

Books....Instruments......What is the problem with you people? Why piss away your time and money on such trivial crappola? You missed out on the tie, but Bill Monroe's son is still peddling some valuable merchandise that will bring you much more pleasure! Check the latest on the thread and see if you can live another day without that cheesy shirt or possibly ever eat pie again without an authenticated Bill Monroe pie plate or pie pan...with dents even!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 12:03 AM

The Monroe book graphically recounts why Monroe et fils NEEDED money all the time.

I know this is old hat but "Where have All The Flowers Gone?" by Pete seeger is a great read as well.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 12:19 AM

Rick,

Amazing that (as you said) Mezz idolized and worked with Sidney Bechet. I always felt Bechet's style sounded more like a Klezmer clarinet than anything else. And Mezz's tremolo seemed to be trying to reproduce that too. (To pick up extra cash these guys sometimes did the Bar Mitzvah circuit -- like I always did with schools shows and nursing home gigs.)

I've got an amazing LP that I purchased the only time I ever saw it for sale anywhere. It is a jam session at New York's ST. REGIS HOTEL (1938-'39). A radio show done to broadcast only in England through the facilities of the BBC. The host-/-commentator for the show, who literally does a blow-by-blow description of what was going on, was a very young and avid jazz buff named ALISTAIR COOKE whose comments intrude all over the music--often unnecessarily. He wanted to make sure his ininformed British listeners knew exactly who was playing solos at any given moment; "who had the puck" - so to speak. Mezz Mezzrow was there --- and so were guys like Chu Berry, Bud Freeman, Harry James, Hot Lips Page, Jack Teagarden, Marty Marsala, Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Jess Stacy, Eddie Condon, Dave Tough, Zutty Singleton, Sidney Bechet, Joe Bushkin, Carmen Mastren, Yank Lawson, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Teagarden, Teddy Wilson, George Wettling and John Kirby (bass) !!! At one point, Cooke gets so enthralled he just blurts out, "That's Zutty Singleton--the greatest colored drummer alive !!!"

I'm glad I've got it !

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,Gern
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 08:54 AM

Interesting thread--I've learned a lot about music from reading musical biographies. Agree with posters that Mezrow's book is a classic, and that Paul Oliver's is better for pictures than copy. Instead, his THE MEANING OF THE BLUES is useful as a literary analysis of blues lyrics. Lawrence Bergren's LOUIS ARMSTRONG; AN EXTRAVAGENT LIFE is very entertaining, while Maxx Jones' LOUIS delivers a lot of jazz history. I highly recommend Ian Carr's MILES DAVIS: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY for a great job on a complex subject. I intend to tackle Ann Allen Savoy's CAJUN MUSIC sometime soon.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 09:29 AM

I've got two books waiting to be read- Joe Glazer's autobiography and a biography of John Lomax. Has anyone read either book? I can't decide which to read first.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 10:02 AM

Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice by James Porter and Herschel Gower. It's got it all -- biography, folklore and history, and "ethnomusicology", in this case the Scots singing traditions. All about how a great source singer from an oral tradition adapts to the modern world.

University of Tennessee Press, 1995.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 11:11 AM

just a few more from the collection. I've read these and can wholeheartedly recommendthem to one and all; "Musician at large" Steve Race..British pianist, jazzer, broadcaster.
"Alexis Korner" Henry Shapiro.. Alexis was at the middle of so much in the 60's helping to form many bands like the Rolling Stones as well as performingat folk clubsas a solo blues act.
"The Spinners" D. Stuckey..tho much mailignedthese popularisers of folk song did a lot to help establish the folk circuit in Britain. This is one of the only books published about the early days.
"The day the world turned blue" B. Hagerty. Excellentbio of Gene Vincent
"Bill Haley! J Swenson. I remember breakfasting at the Holiday Inn, Leicester after a concert and glancing up to see Bill Haley at the next table. The orange juice went down the wrong way! This is a quite gothic tale of a musicians rise and decline to alcoholism and insanity. I know that's not really your bag Rick, but it fascinates me!
"Summer of love...the making of St Pepper" George Martin. Essential reading about the creative process.
Anything on Mahler.
"Delius as I knew him" Eric Fenby. The story of one of the most amazing relationships in musical history.
Waiting to be read are; "The life and legend of Leadbelly" C.Wolfe,K Lornell. Haven't got round to this yet as a review I read was quite scathing of its mistakes. Still, I should have learned by now not to trust reviewerstoo much!
"Hamp" Lionel Hampton. J Haskin.
"Cry..the Johnny Ray story" J. Whiteside..another Gothic tale I think.
"Lennon" Ray Coleman. Must get round to this. Saw "Imagine" again last week and realised how much I regret not seeing John's so fascinating journey completed.
"Lone Star Swing" D. Maclean


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 11:30 AM

OK, found the websites which provide the book reviews for my two nominations--it is a music biographies website folks might find interesting. I've provided the links to the pages with reviews of each book. I would love to hear what readers thought of the Harry Smith book especially.

Making People's Music : Moe Asch and Folkways Records by Peter D. Goldsmith

http://hallbiography.com/composers_musicians/172.shtml

Think of the Self Speaking: Harry Smith, Selected Interviews by Harry Smith, Rani Singh (Editor), Darrin Daniel, Steve Creson (Introduction), Allen Ginsberg

http://hallbiography.com/composers_musicians/174.shtml


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 11:32 AM

From Mitch Jayne (school teacher, radio announcer, musician, author), the man who gave us slicker than deer guts on a doorknob and other bits of Ozark wisdom comes Home Grown Stories & Home Fried Lies , subtitled Words With The Bark On Them & Other Ozark Oddments. Use the link on the page to Amazon.com. Check out the sample pages there. Better than that, look up Mitch and Diana somewhere down the road and buy the book from them. You'll get autographs thrown in, and likely an extry word or two.

OK, so this isn't exactly a biography, but you'll get a lot of Mitch along with those wonderful stories and that wonderful Ozark language so quickly passing into history ~~ Jilikins -- wild or unsettled land -- That man lives so far back in the jilikins you cain't get no regular car back to his house. Ah, one more before I start to quote the whole book. That old boy gets around like spit on a stove. (describing someone square dancing)

I just looked at mayberry.com. There you can get that autographed copy I was talking about for only 5 cents more than at Amazon. What a deal!

For more from Mitch, read the Missouri Conservationist December 1995 article, < a href=http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/conmag/1995/dec/jayne.html>Making Sense Out Of Hunting.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 11:36 AM

Sigh, html errors. I need a checker. For more from Mitch, read the Missouri Conservationist December 1995 article, Making Sense Out Of Hunting.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 06:36 PM

From the latest issue of our German folk mag, Folker!, I learnt that Ken Hunt's biography of Martin Carthy (Prince Heathen: Martin Carthy and the English folksong revival)is nearing completion and will be published on the Swing 51 label in winter 2002. I'm looking forward to that!
Thanks also for some interesting suggestions above. There goes my budget! However, I haven't seen Joe Klein's biography of Woody Guthrie mentioned. Though not new, it's lovingly done, paints a broad picture, and I found it enjoyable to read. It was published in the UK by Faber&Faber. Also, I've read recently about another Guthrie biography, translated into German. I'll try to find the details.
Harvey, do you know of any other books about the Spinners? I found the Stuckey book in the Liverpool Tourist Information 20 years ago and had the sense to buy it (autographed! :-)), but I'd welcome being pointed to other material.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 07:44 PM

No, nothing more about the Spinners. English books about the English folk world are very few and far between.I feel maybe I should put pen to paper soon before I forget it all!


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 03:40 AM

I concur that the Jeannie Robertson book is really good, and I can't wait to see the Martin Carthy one. One that's a bit more obscure is Never Without a Song, by Katharine D. Newman (1995). It's about the life of a working woman between the years 1865 and 1952 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the importance of folksong in her world. It's about 100 pages of biography followed by 175 pages of song texts, tunes and notes on repertoire. Fascinating if you're interested in traditional singing in that place and that period.

A similar one, but much much heavier on the songs and lighter on the bio, is Edith Fowke's book on LaRena Clark, A Family Heritage (1994).


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 11:40 AM

Harvey, please do! If you can find the time I'm sure you have a valuable and highly personal contribution to make. I'd certainly be looking forward to it. (Although I DO hope you won't start before you've been on tour again in Northern Germany. I keep asking Gaby when!)


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: beachcomber
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 03:35 PM

Like Mr Rick Fielding, I too have virtually given up on Novels for the past twenty years or so, finding history in biography and biographical notes in history, more to my liking. I am surprised that no-one has mentioned Joan Baez's Biog? Was it derided? or popular when it first appeared in the U.S.? I read it a few years ago along with "How can I keep from singing?" and , of course, "Bound for Glory" would these still be popular among mudcatters to-day?

beach


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 08:37 PM

I'll second the nomination for "Never Without a Song"! A beautiful book.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: Rolfyboy6
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 10:47 PM

"Land where the Blues Began" by Alan Lomax. Alan's field years in Mississippi. Sit on the front porch with a 25 year old Muddy Waters. Meet Fred McDowell for the first time and record on Fred's front porch that night. Read about the building of the levees by hand, and on and on. And the chilling chapter "There is a hell." Get rousted by the police for being white on the wrong side of town.

"Deep Blues" by Robert Palmer. The Delta and Charlie Patton and Son House. Migrate to Chicago with Muddy Waters. Helena Arkansas when it was hot and Sonny Boy Williamson II and Robert Lockwood Jr. were knocking them dead on the original King Biscuit radio show and driving at speed to their juke joint gigs that night. And many other delights.


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Subject: RE: Music Biographies to read in new year.
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 02 - 10:50 PM

Hey it only takes one post you know. We get the idea!


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