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Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom Paperback – July 1, 1999
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Marion Dane Bauer is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book "On My Honor" and the "New York Times" bestseller "My Mother Is Mine". Her other titles include "A Mama for Owen, If You Were Born a Kitten, Grandmother's Song, " and?"Thank You for Me!" She has recently retired from the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults where she was the first Faculty Chair. She lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and can be reached at mariondanebauer.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Guralnick provides plenty of background on the "race music" that spawned R&B and the great soul music of the sixties and early seventies, on which much of the book concentrates. Like most, if not all, of the great blues musicians, the early pioneers of soul came from humble, mostly southern beginnings, and made little or no money from their work, which was liberally sampled by white musicians.
A good portion of the narrative revolves around the fascinating rise and fall of Stax Records, the tiny Memphis-based label that brought together white executive leadership and musicians with raw black talent from the South. Despite initially primitive recording conditions, Stax developed into a powerhouse that was home to some of the greatest musicians in soul music, from Otis Redding to William Bell to Carla Thomas to Sam and Dave to Johnny Taylor. The label became representative of the growing sense of black pride that defined the era, one in which civil rights, of course, moved to the forefront of America's consciousness.
All of these musicians and many more, including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, to name a few, are given finely drawn profiles by Guralnick, and he treats their contributions to American music with the respect that they deserve. Throughout, he is intent on letting the artists tell their stories in their own words, and remains content to use his own fine writing to direct and bind together the narrative.Read more ›
Guralnick's thesis seems to be that Southern Soul achieved its great creative flowering in the 60s as a result of the partnership between black and white musicians, and even though he interviews a great number of musicians and businessmen - black and white - he can't help himself from empathising with the young white hipsters that made up the house bands at Stax and Muscle Shoals, with the result that the book becomes very much a story told from their point of view (Guralnick calls Dan Penn the "secret hero of this book" - fair enough, but surely James Brown should have been its overt hero). After these white musicians were intimidated out of the business during the racial tension that followed Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, Guralnick concentrates more on the politics and seems to lose interest in the music itself.
Which is a great pity, since Southern Soul in the 70s went on to even greater heights (James Brown's rhythmic revolution, then Al Green's great synthesis of the sexual and the spiritual). Though I learnt a great deal from the book (my CD collection has mushroomed after reading it) it felt to this reader as though the book had ended just before its real climax.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another extraordinary work of art by Peter Guralnick. Can't put it down and don't want it to end! Each person's story told with respect and kindness. Read morePublished 6 days ago by katie green
A must read for any serious or not so serious lover of soul. The music flows off the pages and into that cd player in your head.Published 5 months ago by allan l. ferreira
comprehensive history, written with passion for the people and the musicPublished 8 months ago by Jones
A classic historical and personal exploration of Soul Music.
And to think that we used to have popular music like this.
Peter Guralnick is a great writer.
I own every Guralnick music book in print and I don't lend them out. I'll buy a copy for a friend but never give up custody of my copy. He's that good. Read morePublished 24 months ago by RB
I think this book is an awesome is an awesome review of southern soul music. It is written in a way that is not slow or boring in my opinion. Loved it!Published on December 14, 2013 by PAB
I'm not finished yet but I love this book. If you like reading abut the story behind the music, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished on April 9, 2013 by missann