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Blind But Now I See: The Biography of Music Legend Doc Watson Paperback – March 1, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

If you're a dedicated Doc Watson fan, I think you would find this book an interesting read. It does get into some darker areas of Doc's life, such as Merle's death, but it also is a celebration of the man through the eyes and ears of those who know him. --Steve Carr, docsguitars.com

Hard to believe it's been 50 years since Ralph Rinzler first introduced guitarist Doc Watson to the larger world. It's a fitting anniversary for the first book-length biography on Doc to appear. It was long overdue. This is a valuable, anecdotal work anyone interested in Doc's music and life will enjoy reading. --Bluegrass Unlimited

This is a highly informative, fascinating biography of the great Doc Watson. What a life. It's a page-turner that will keep you up past your bedtime. Don't miss it. -- The Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association

Hard to believe it's been 50 years since Ralph Rinzler first introduced guitarist Doc Watson to the larger world. It's a fitting anniversary for the first book-length biography on Doc to appear. It was long overdue. This is a valuable, anecdotal work anyone interested in Doc's music and life will enjoy reading. --Bluegrass Unlimited

This is a highly informative, fascinating biography of the great Doc Watson. What a life. It's a page-turner that will keep you up past your bedtime. Don't miss it. -- The Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association

About the Author

Dr. Kent Gustavson is a musician, professor, speaker, oft ghostwriter & ne' er-do-well. He is proficient in traditional instruments such as the banjo, mandolin, upright bass and guitar, but was trained as a classical composer in New York. He has interviewed hundreds of award-winning authors & musicians for his own radio show Sound Authors, and has been featured on National Public Radio s All Songs Considered.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Blooming Twig Books; 2 edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193775300X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937753009
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul D. Asbell on June 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
When I received this book in the mail, I knew that I wanted to read the whole thing. But I had an awfully busy day planned. Once I got started reading, however, it became obvious that a lot of stuff was gonna get procrastinated 'til next day. At 2AM, I was done... but a lot of lingering emotions from this fascinating, incredibly deeply researched look keep resonating... and will for a long time.

Kent's book is an extremely moving and revealing look at one of the most fascinating and influential pickers in American folklore. Most folks who know anything about American roots music know Doc's name, and many of these folks know a good deal about Doc's remarkable musical career over the last 45+ years. But very, very few people know the man and his astonishing story in the detail that this book provides.

It's a quintessentially American story, and I'm extraordinarily grateful to Kent for providing us with it!
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In "Blind But Now I See," Kent Gustafson has written a landmark biography of Doc Watson, one of the most important figures in 20th century American folk music. Drawing from interviews of over fifty luminaries such as Mike Seeger, Jack Lawrence, and Maria Muldaur, the author paints a vivid portrait of Doc Watson, the man and his roots, his career, his virtuosic musicianship, his complex relationship with his son Merle, and his inestimable influence on generations of musicians.

For me, as a lifelong fan and early student of Doc Watson's music, "Blind But Now I See" offers many revelations, but two stand out: The first is Ralph Rintzler's role in Doc's early career. I knew the stories about Rintzler "discovering" Doc and persuading him to put down his electric guitar, but I had no idea how instrumental he was in shaping Doc's image and repertoire. I now understand that Rintzler was the man who, in many ways, created the persona that I myself bought into when I was a kid in the 60s. Not that Doc wasn't all the things he presented, he was just a whole lot more which Rintzler insisted he keep under wraps.

The other revelation for me was Doc's son Merle who accompanied him for nearly twenty years and died an untimely death. The Merle I knew sat silently on stage while his dad shined in the spotlight. However, the book shows us Merle as Doc's businessman; his driver, navigator, and guide; his liaison to the younger generation; Merle as Doc's eyes and best friend. Almost unanimously, those who knew him spoke of him as a sweet, gentle and generous soul. Merle was talented, intelligent, savvy, and in the end a tragic figure who possibly carried more of a burden than he could bear.

Kent Gustafson has written a biography that is insightful and revealing. "Blind But Now I See," gives us Doc Watson the human being: a simple yet complex man who has lived a life of tragedy and triumph.
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Format: Paperback
Did you know that Doc Watson's father made Doc's first banjo from the hide of his grandma's 16 year-old cat? Did you know that Doc Watson can tell you how many fenceposts he's passed just by the echo of the rustling grass as he walks through it?

Doc Watson's music touches me deeply. It is a genuine and integral expression of his life and who he is. This anecdotal biography helps me to appreciate Doc's music a lot more. These fascinating stories describe a life lived with integrity, honesty, grit and love. Though these stories are spun as simply as a pair of homemade pants, when taken together, they resound with a harmony and beauty as rich as any of Doc's best gospel tracks.

American music is a complex organism. The mixture of genres and cultures evades our best efforts to form comprehensible little catagories. Doc Watson is a crossroads. His extraordinary breadth of exposure to and mastery of so many genres and traditions allows us to catch a glimpse of the big picture of American music. This exhaustively researched book, therefore, is not just the story of one Appalachian man, but a well-crafted lens through which we can see and better appreciate our musical heritage.
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Format: Paperback
In the early 1970s, I found an audio tape cassette
on a Radio Shack clearance table for 50 cents entitled
"Greatest Folksingers of the 'Sixties."
It was pretty good and I played it a lot since I only
had a handful of tapes. I soon realized that after I played
one certain song that I would stop the tape,
rewind and replay the song, then stop, rewind, replay, ...
until I finally got around to playing the rest
- some song called "Sittin' On Top of the World"
sung and played on guitar by some guy named Doc Watson.
Nearly forty years and all of his albums later,
and attending all of his concerts in somewhat reasonable
driving range, I still didn't know much about Doc
and even less about his son Merle
other than what was contained in a few interviews
and articles which repeated the same basic facts.
It seemed long overdue for a full biography
since Doc has been famous for nearly 50 years.
When I recently finally saw a mention
of a biography of Doc, I ordered it within minutes.
Then I started to see comments like
"unauthorized," "Doc doesn't like it," and "controversial."
Huh!? What kind of book had I ordered?
As soon as I got a moment after I received the book,
"Blind But Now I See" by Kent Gustafson,
I sat down to read it.
What I found was a well researched and well written book,
a labor of love by a true fan of Doc's.
There are a few minor tidbits that Doc _might_ not
have chosen to include.
Read more ›
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