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Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series) Hardcover – November 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; Har/Com edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807833258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807833254
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For blues lovers who love their experience pure and strong, Ferris (Blues from the Delta) conducted more than 20 interviews of blues and gospel performers from the Mississippi Delta for his latest book. The author did much of this fieldwork as a graduate student during the 1960s and 1970s, capturing these singers close to where they grew up, chopping cotton and tending the farms during the day and prowling around the jukes and roadhouses at night. From among the Delta locals of sacred and secular music, Ferris interviews such blues masters as James Son Ford Thomas, Willie Dixon and B.B. King, with their words accompanied by a stirring CD/DVD of their music. There is an intriguing section on the infamous Parchman Penitentiary in the Delta, where cruel overseers and defiant inmates battle each other. Joyous, powerful and authentic, this package is designed to both inform and entertain those willing to plunge into this audacious world. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

A book that will transport its readers, though it's meant to be experienced at a walking pace. . . . A multi-faceted portrayal of blues history that makes accessible a community and a genre of music with incalculable influence.--Inside Higher Ed BlogU

A captivating and diverse multimedia experience for fans and scholars of the blues and gospel music. . . . Highly recommended for anyone interested in the blues or Southern history.--Library Journal starred review

A must-have for anyone interested in the blues. . . . Provides a complete portrayal of blues culture. An accessible book that will appeal to anyone interested in American music and culture. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

The DVD supplement. . . . Capture[s] images and actions that are seen nowhere else. . . . [They] may be Ferris's best and his most accomplished works.--ARSC Journal

An exceptional work, simultaneously one of the most beautiful and one of the most important that has ever appeared on the blues.--ABS Magazine

A pretty damn impressive package, and an amazing resource of material on Mississippi folk culture.--Highway 61 Radio

This multimedia package is a valuable addition to scholarship in the traditional arts . . . casual blues fans and lovers of Mississippi culture will appreciate its unpretentious presentation style.--The Clarion-Ledger

Ferris . . . has given historians and music fans a gift.--Anniston Star

An incredibly powerful book. . . . The great strength of Give My Poor Heart Ease is that [Ferris] gets himself out of the way and lets other people do the talking.--BiblioBuffet

Most of Ferris' subjects never cut a recording, but their songs and their stories create an indelible portrait of strength in the face of poverty and prejudice. Like the black characters in Faulkner's novels, these people endured, and thus prevailed.--Wilmington Star News

[A] blues goldmine.--Carolina Arts & Sciences

For blues lovers who love their experience pure and strong. . . . Joyous, powerful and authentic, this package is designed to both inform and entertain those willing to plunge into this audacious world.--Publishers Weekly

A beautiful memorial to Mississippi African Americans and their lost world [and] a tribute to the folklorist who captured their stories and songs for posterity.--The Journal of Southern History

Ferris reaches beyond the dry, [dispassionate] cataloguing of regional history and traditions to tell the very personal story of his own education and the lives of the remarkable teachers . . . that he met along the way.--GoMemphis

This book, CD and DVD all contain living history as it rolled out thirty or more years ago, when blues music was part of rural black family life. . . and we have the unlikely opportunity to take a meandering ramble through and closely observe the lives of the tellers.--Blogcritics

[Ferris] is a hero for blues lovers and folklorists the world over….There is much to love about this collection….Without a doubt, this wonderful multimedia set is necessary for any comprehensive blues collection.--Arkansas Review

The stories, collected during Ferris' travels in his native lands of the Mississippi Delta, are real, raw, passionate, at times ribald and rough and at others sweeter than tupelo honey.--Carrboro Citizen

This magnificent and invaluable volume illuminates blues music, the broader African American experience, and indeed the history and culture of America itself.--SirReadaLot.org

An autobiographical account and, more importantly a transcription of the recollections, which Ferris recorded in the 1960s and '70s. . . . The book comes with a set of Ferris' original field recordings on CD. . . . [and] a DVD that collects the documentary files Ferris shot.--Memphis Flyer

There is much to love about this collection. . . . Without doubt, this wonderful multimedia set is necessary for any comprehensive blues collection.--Arkansas Review

The ultimate multi-media collection of interviews, original music and film about the blues.--Delta Magazine

Captures the cadences of [the musicians'] spoken voices and the stories of their lives, and the DVD and CD that accompany the book allow us to hear their music. . . . If the unhealed wound of injustice is everywhere present in these stories, many of the people telling them, like Ferris himself, have refused to see their lives reduced to race and stubbornly resist despair.--Harper's Magazine

Ferris eloquently captures the hearts of Mississippi artists, forever preserving their voices by way of manuscript, photography, video, and sound recordings. Ferris takes the reader right into the heart of Mississippi.--North Carolina Folklore Journal

Delivers exactly what its title promises: the words and voices [Ferris] collected of Mississippians who had it rough and, in telling about it, changed American music forever.--Endeavors

The invaluable narratives and stunning black-and-white photographs . . . would be enough to recommend this book as a must-have for anyone interested in the blues, but Ferris also includes a DVD of incredible film footage . . . and an audio CD. . . Provides a complete portrayal of blues culture. An accessible book that will appeal to anyone interested in American music and culture. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

Ferris' fieldwork proves to be every bit as important and impressive as the now-famous Mississippi recordings made by John and Alan Lomax in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. . . . Ferris' audio and video recordings . . . are unpolished gems, further preserving pieces of Mississippi's musical past that may have otherwise been forgotten.--The Vicksburg Post

Take a walk through people's lives. That's what the experience of exploring this combination book, CD and DVD is like. . . . The films are a treasure trove of information. . . . Were an anthropological writer [to] decide to, s/he could write a career's worth of books, papers and treatises from the content of just one package of book, CD and DVD.--BC: BlogCritics.org

[This] book takes readers, watches, and listeners as close as a book can take people into the homes, juke joints, and churches of Mississippians who made music.--The Southern Register

You feel as though you've been given the truest form of insight into a place. . . . First-person insight, presented in all its soulful glory.--Independent Weekly

Groundbreaking. . . . The summation of a life's work documenting and, in the process, lifting the music of a regional people who, from the depths of poverty, racism and centuries of struggle, have given the world one of its most enduring art forms.--Memphis Commercial Appeal Shelf Life Blog

Personal, anecdotal, lively and full of the same spirit that helps bring blues music to life. A great mix of stories from some renowned blues greats alongside people known only in their neighborhoods.--Publishers Weekly Indie Top 20 Selection

The classic struggle between Saturday night revelry and Sunday morning appropriateness, the pain and joy in blues and gospel music, sermons and stories, are presented in print, and--luckily for us--on a CD and a DVD, compilations from Ferris's faithful work. The package is raw, unadorned, very funny, haunting, daring, and spellbinding.--Clyde Edgerton, Garden & Gun

Customer Reviews

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This is an essential book for blues lovers.
Mme Linda Watten
This latest book somehow captures the delta where Mr. Ferris is from.
Woodshed
The CD and DVD that accompany the book are extra icing on the cake.
J. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr Tom Clark on December 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kudos to William Ferris for this book. It is clearly a labor of love for him. I was drawn to this work after hearing Ferris in an 10 minute long NPR piece on "All Things Considered" (see/hear at [...]). As a young student Ferris visited backwoods towns along US61 from Memphis south to the LA border. He documents the unknown blues singers he met along the way. And he tells about his long-standing friendship with the legendary BB King fantastic stories! The book is accompanied with a CD of collected music and a DVD documenting his finds.

If you are a fan of Blues performed by the black inventors of the art form, then read/hear the NPR clip and I predict you will find this book to be a "must have"!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Woodshed on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Muddy Waters: Live on TourThe Howlin' Wolf Story - The Secret History of Rock & RollThe Essential Albert King: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Styles and Techniques of a Blues and Soul LegendThe Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood MacThe Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double TroubleJimi Hendrix: BluesThe Complete RecordingsFounder of the Delta BluesThe Original Delta BluesBlind Willie Johnson and the Guitar EvangelistsBlowin' the BluesAlligator Records 20th Anniversary CollectionThe book is a real treasure, if you're a hard core blues fan or just plain want to catch an intimate view of one of America's most important musical creations. It is written by a true scholar of this genre that was the foundation of both jazz and rock and roll.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By paul vernon on May 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Ferris's book is a summary of 40 years of his field research, offering elegantly written portraits of the people and places he spent so much time amongst in the 1960's and beyond. His patch was, essentially, Mississippi and his self-defined brief was to capture the fast-dissapearing history of traditional blues and gospel by any means at his disposal. This included interviews, photos, taped performances and sound films. Unusual for the time, and now, four decades later, the five films are of especially great value. Moreover, they are all included here in DVD format, accompanied by a selection of field recordings on a CD, both packaged into the back of the book. So essentialy you have a multi-media product to absorb; words, photographic images, sound recordings and films, including the one which, in my view, is the best single documentary about what the blues actually means. At 21 minutes, his 1975 color film "Give My Poor Heart Ease" is the ideal introduction to the real purpose and underlying meaning of the Blues as catharsis for its original community, rather than mass entertainment. Ther are no California Rayban-wearing harp players here, just honest folk playing honest music because they have to. Whatever your level of interest in the blues is, Ferris's new volume is one to get and absorb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mme Linda Watten on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an essential book for blues lovers. It traces the birth of Mississippi Delta blues, arguably the birthplace of American blues. There is an extended section on the influence of prisoners who were in Parchman Farm prison, made immortal by a song by Mose Allison years later. I highly recommend it.
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Bill Ferris, the former director of NEH and a professor of History at the University of North Carolina,is a highly respected scholar in the field of Oral History. This book belongs on the shelf of every serious student of Folklore and ethnomusicology or anyone who likes music, especially the Blues. So well written and easy to read, the words slide off the pages and take you back to a time when great Blues singers were as common as Cottonmouths in the Mississippi Delta. Dr. Ferris shares his life and the lives of the seminal Blues musicians with his readers. This book is oral history the way it should be written. Ferris spent many years of his life recording the interviews in this book with the all-time great Blues musicians, like B.B. King. From cover to cover it reads like fiction, but every inch of it is true. We all know that a storyteller like a good Blues singer never lies or "spins a yarn"! The CD and DVD that accompany the book are extra icing on the cake. I hear that if you get the IPAD version the print magically turns into video at critical junctures in the stories. The long list of Bill Ferris's accomplishments reads like a who's who of Delta scholarship. If you want to understand the Blues from Mississippi to Chicago to the present day, this is the book to read. Early in the first chapter the author fades into the shadows and allows the musicians to tell their own unique stories. The key word in the title is "Voices". The author's skill as oral historian is to allow the voices of so many truly exceptional musicians to shout and holler, weep and moan, blending into one powerful tradition that has entertained this nation as long a people have eeked out a living as slaves, tenant farmers and laborers in the great delta of the Mississippi River that Bill Ferris is proud to call his home. Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
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