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Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock 'n' Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues) Hardcover – June 11, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern; 1St Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555537448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555537449
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Blues legend Muddy Waters said that “blues had a baby, and they called it rock ’n’ roll.” That is an oversimplification. This book, by contrast, may be an overcomplication, an informed fan’s dizzyingly comprehensive account of the intricate and reciprocal relationships of the two musical genres, coalescing during and after the blues revival of the 1960s. It is a commonplace that the blues generation of Robert Johnson, Son House, and Mississippi John Hurt, among others, and the later one of Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and others was listened to obsessively by young white American musicians, and by their British counterparts, notably Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards, with results that transformed the sound of popular music. Milward’s narrative, while not ignoring its negative components, stresses the mutual advantages of the exchange, and his passion for the form is obvious. And why not? It has defined popular music for the past several decades and still provides a joy that a reading of this fine book should enhance. --Mark Levine

Review

“There has never been any underestimating the influence that blues had on rock music. But Milward makes the connections seem fresh and as alive as when they were happening and evokes the openness that enabled blues to get ‘in the bloodstream of generations of musicians.’”—Chicago Tribune

“Crossroads is both an important and immensely enjoyable read. Milward beautifully illuminates the relationship between the two musical genres. It’s a fascinating presentation that makes listening to the music even more meaningful and gratifying.”—Fretboard Journal

“Rich in anecdotes and insight, ‘Crossroads’ offers a welcome tribute to the blues revival’s most important legacy: the collaboration—across race and class and generations—that galvanized a music that had been left to wither and die.”—Wall Street Journal

“More than just telling the story of the blues, Milward is concerned with its connection with rock, with how, as Muddy Waters sang, ‘the blues had a baby and they called it rock ’n’ roll.’”—Woodstock Times

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Customer Reviews

One of the BEST music books I have ever read in my life.
C. Saunders
Very interesting, and explains how modern music was formed by the blues, and how the older blues musicians were exploited by the music industry.
Arnold Thomas
This work was very well-written and made my music education incredibly entertaining.
Ed Camp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mystery Fan on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an essential title for anyone's blues library. There has been various books and articles over the years that have treated the nexus of the blues world of African Americans with the music world of mainstream or white society, from a folk angle, from a rock angle, from a British angle, and from a countercultural angle. This book by rock writer and critic John Milward brings all these angles together in one tightly and elegantly written book. Given Milward's rock background he spends considerable more time than would be expected on the rediscovery of the prewar country blues artists and their musical reentrance into the folk music scene. I was unfamiliar with the Bohemian Greenwich Village scene and was thoroughly enlightened in that regard. Much of his take on all the connections between the huge rock scene and blues artists relating to performances, recordings, and music techniques I was familiar with, but much was new to me. I did not follow Stevie Ray Vaughn's career, for example. Milward, a musician himself, is particularly good on explaining how blues artists' open tuning informed the music of Keith Richards. Chicago residents like me will particularly relate to Milward's discussions on the Chicago scene, where he discusses Big John's, the first north side club to book south and west side blues artists, such as Junior Wells, Little Walter, Jimmy Cotton, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters, and where the nexus with white blues artists came about with such bands as Goldberg-Miller Band, Paul Butterfield, and Corky Siegel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ed Camp on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was never a big fan of the blues. I can also truthfully say that I was never a fan of reading a book about the blues. I'm more of a horror/science fiction kind of guy but I must say that this book has had quite an impact on me. Not only did this book teach me a great deal about the blues but it taught me a tremendous amount about music in general. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I would recommend this book to those who are ignorant of the blues (like myself) as well as to those who are well-versed in the genre. This work was very well-written and made my music education incredibly entertaining. To me, it even reads like a cool song.
The author never pretends to be an objective or impartial documenter of the facts. This is obvious from the start. We have a kindred fan of this class of music and clearly a musician to have delved so deeply into the subject matter. We find an artist, composer, entertainer and wordsmith! I relished the experience this book provided for me. After only reading a few chapters I found myself chasing after the music and researching the artists. It was an education in music appreciation on many levels.
Before reading this I could honestly say that I always valued good music. I was oblivious to it's evolution and this book only covers a small part of it. Music is not only a major component of modern life but it has always been a vital part of human history. The past was definitely not silent! After listening to the music John Milward introduced me to, it has opened my mind, body and soul to the power of the Blues.
I can now put music to the names such as Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. Music that if properly listened to, tells it's own story. Music that defined itself and it's artists and will define you.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul S. Jellinek on August 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What a book! For anyone who loves the blues and/or rock and/or American music, this is THE book to read (and believe me, I've read a lot of them over the years, on both sides of the equation). What above all makes this book such an extraordinary achievement is the compellingly vivid way that author John Milward, like a modern day Dickens or Balzac, manages to bring such a staggering array of thoroughly human characters to life (with a strong assist from the striking woodcut illustrations by Milward's wife Margie Greve). They practically jump out of the page at you--everyone from Son House and Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis to Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf and BB King and Eric Clapton and Peter Green and Buddy Guy and Michael Bloomfield and Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards and John Lee Hooker and Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers and the Vaughan brothers and... you get the drift. At first, it's all a little overwhelming--so many amazing stories about so many amazing people--until suddenly the light goes on and you begin to see how their lives and their pain and their music are in fact intimately intertwined and interwoven with one another, creating the vast living tapestry of American music that has enriched (and continues to enrich) our lives in so many ways. The acid test for me whenever I'm reading a book about music is whether I'm sufficiently motivated by what I'm reading to get up from my chair and actually put on the damn CD and listen to it. Well, in this case, I couldn't stop. I kept getting up and putting on the CD's, often hearing them with a whole new set of ears because of what I had just read. It is obvious that Milward has a deep and abiding love for this music, and that love for the music, and for the musicians who made it, is what makes this the best book of its kind that you'll ever read.
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