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Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues Paperback – December 14, 2004
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Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In "Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues" (2004), Elijah Wald offers a compelling study of the blues and of blues historiography focusing on Robert Johnson. Wald tries to correct what he deems to be the prevailing myths about Johnson: that he was a primitive folk artist caught in the Mississippi Delta who recorded and perfected a local traditional form of blues. Wald finds Johnson an ambitious young singer who had studied the blues forms popular in his day. Johnson, Wald argues, wanted to escape the Mississippi Delta and pattern himself on the urban blues singers, in particular Leroy Carr, emanating from the midwest and Chicago.
Wald finds that Johnson displayed a variety of blues styles in his recordings and that he was largely ignored by black music listeners of his day because Johnson's early efforts to capture an urban blues style were basically copies of more successful singers and because his songs in the Delta blues style lacked appeal to the urban and sophisticated black audience of the time.
Johnson's music only became well-known, Wald argues, with the rise of English rock, and with his rediscovery by a largely white audience.Read more ›
Wald provides convincing evidence that Robert Johnson was far from the troubled loner and brooding genius who single-handedly revolutionized western music in miserable backwoods locations, as current fandom mythology would tell you. Instead, Johnson was a professional entertainer who dreamed of being that era's equivalent of a rock star, as did most other blues musicians of the time. Johnson's music, while certainly compelling, wasn't even that unique or original when seen in the context of its time, as Wald finds evidence that he often simply updated the works of his major influences like Leroy Carr, Son House, or Kokomo Arnold. The blues musicians of the time were also adept at many different pop and mainstream styles, and Johnson was no exception, as Wald shows us through Johnson's decidedly non-Delta songs like "They're Red Hot" or "From Four Till Late." Interestingly, Johnson wasn't even very successful or influential in his own time (the 1930's), and was mostly unknown even in the blues community until he was rediscovered by white revivalists in the 60's.Read more ›
I have been listening to Robert Johnson's music for years, and after reading Wald's chapters on his recordings I went back over them again. I can't say I agree with every single one of Wald's comments, but I heard so much that I had never noticed before. It really opened up Johnson's music, and made me understand what he was doing, and how he fit into the bigger picture.
I have to admit that I am not as familiar as I should be with some of the other people the book talks about, like Leroy Carr and Dinah Washington, but this made me want to go out and get their records, and learn more. And I guess that's really the point of any book on music.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lousy. I forgot more about the Blues than tis guy can digest.Published 15 days ago by Richard Lathrop
More a history of Delta blues. Very thorough.Sometimes hard to follow.Published 17 days ago by r.j.fritz
Excellent research and background into the Blues. Thank goodness for youtube, so you can have a listen to these artist that you probably never heard before. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
More excellent history about the great slide master Robert JohnsonPublished 9 months ago by Warrenselby-jones
Loved the history, but a bit too much reminders that it wasn't all blues in the pastPublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book was much more educational than entertaining. Robert Johnson was only alive for a short time but left an indelible mark on popular music. Read morePublished 11 months ago by thehimiler
This is a highly informed and astute discussion of ' Blues ' , what it means , and how it works . It does an excellent job of placing Robert Johnson and his work into a meaningful... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jim Crawford