Synopses & Reviews
Rock & roll, jazz, R&B, hip-hop: Without question, today's most popular sounds owe an incalculable debt to that uniquely American musical creation -- The Blues. But the powerful influence of the blues, with its dramatic, artful storytelling about the elemental experience of being alive, is found in the works of some of our most important literary voices as well.
This volume -- a companion to the groundbreaking seven-part documentary series Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues -- represents a literary sampler every bit as vibrant and original and diverse as the films and music that inspired it. Included in this stunning collection are newly commissioned essays by David Halberstam, Hilton Als, Suzan-Lori Parks, Elmore Leonard, Luc Sante, John Edgar Wideman, and others; timeless archival pieces by the likes of Stanley Booth, Paul Oliver, and Mack McCormick; evocative color illustrations and rare vintage photography; illuminating and in-depth conversations and portraits of musicians, ranging from Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith to John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton; lyrics of legendary blues compositions; personal essays by the series directors Martin Scorsese, Charles Burnett, Richard Pearce, Wim Wenders, Marc Levin, Mike Figgis, and Clint Eastwood; and excerpts from such literary masters as James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, Eudora Welty and Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and William Faulkner.
The result is a unique and timeless celebration of the blues, from writers and artists as esteemed and revered as the music that moved them. In these pages one not only reads about the blues, one hears them, feels them, lives them. Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues is more than a timeless collection of great writing to be savored and shared: it is an unforgettable initiation into the very essence of American music and culture.
“A literary sampler as vibrant and original as the films and music that inspired it.” The Times (Shreveport, LA)
“Read the book … essential … for anyone who cares about American history, black culture and current music.” Miami Herald
“Breaking new ground.” Crain's New York Business
“Brilliant.” Toronto Star
“[One of the] ‘Twelve Books of Christmas ... the perfect gift for the music lover.” Calgary Sun
“A must for any real blues fan.” Chicago Sun-Times
The illuminating, idiosyncratic, official companion book to the ground-breaking PBS series (airing Fall '03) on the blues, a seven-part documentary series produced by Martin Scorsese.
This is the official companion book to the groundbreaking seven-part PBS series airing this fall, a personal and impressionistic portrait of the blues as viewed through the lens of seven famous directors. 75 color photos.
Beginning with a journey from Africa to the Mississippi Delta, The Blues
shows how the great American music grew from field hollers, work songs and church choirs; then to the juke joints, house parties and recording studios of Memphis and Chicago; the embrace of blues music by white musicians, beginning with Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, the Stones, the Beatles an embrace that would place the blues squarely at the heart of mainstream music; and ends with the emotional embrace of this African-American music by musicians all over the world. This book, as with the series it accompanies, honors the music, preserves its legacy, and promotes its future.
The book will work equally well for general readers as for devotees of the series. Its structure runs parallel to the series, yet is also a self-contained history so that it can be read independently. Most exciting, it incorporates brief essays (most commissioned exclusively for this book), personal essays expounding in personal ways on how the blues has touched the lives of a wide range of literary and musical luminaries.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-285).
About the Author
Martin Scorsese received the Golden Globe Award for Best Director for his most recent feature, Gangs of New York
Peter Guralnick is the author of numerous seminal works of music and popular culture, including Searching for Robert Johnson and a two-volume biography of Elvis Presley. He lives in West Newbury, Massachusetts.
Robert Santelli is the Executive Director of the Experience Music Project and author/editor of The Big Book of the Blues and American Roots Music; he lives in Seattle.
Christopher John Farley is the music editor at Time Magazine.
Holly George-Warren is the former editorial director of Rolling Stone Press and the author/editor of numerous books, including American Roots Music and Cowboy! How Hollywood Invented the American West. She lives in Phoenicia, New York.