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Michael Bloomfield - If You Love These Blues: An Oral History (Book) Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...there is a lyrical beauty to the oral interviews...a fine tribute to Bloomfield's genius." -- Rock & Blues News, December 2000-January 2001

"Any fan of Bloomfield, Butterfield, or the early white blues scene will find this book irresistible." -- Dirty Linen

"Does an excellent job of conjuring up an era in Chicago when young white folkniks began to discover electric blues." -- Chicago Tribune, December 24, 2000

"If you love blues music and Bloomfield in particular, you won't want to be without Wolkin and Keenom's superb biography." -- The Bookwatch, December 2000

"Recounts vividly Bloomfield's love for his music. Collectors will want to pick this up for the CD of rare recordings." -- Discoveries, December 2000

From the Publisher

What they’re saying about the book:

"Having an oral history of Mike Bloomfield is probably the only way one could view the many sides and idiosyncrasies of such a talented, complex individual. I thought I knew him pretty well, but when I dove into these pages, I got an additional postgraduate education I never expected. Nothing will really patch the void in my life where he used to dwell, but this book put a smile on my face and brought back fond memories of my long-lost friend. For everyone else, it’s a look inside the psyche of a musical innovator who deserves a posthumous Nobel Prize and a statue on Rush Street in Chicago. If you love his blues, you’ll love this book." --Al Kooper

"This beautiful, tragic book resounds with the voices of Mike’s family and friends. For me, reading the story is transporting--and painful, so vividly does it bring to mind the lost-forever reality of a world with Michael Bloomfield in it." --Mark Naftalin

"This book captures not only the passion of an electrifying musician and unforgettable character, but also the richness of the culture in which he thrived, and upon which he exerted a profound influence." --Tom Wheeler, former Editor in Chief, Guitar Player magazine

What they’re saying about the man:

"The first time I saw Michael play guitar…it literally changed my life enough for me to say ‘this is what I want to do and be for the rest of my life.’" --Carlos Santana

"Michael was a brilliant young man. He had a great big heart. And he was a great guitarist. He was like a son to me." --B.B. King

"Michael Bloomfield was a really sweet guy and a brilliant guitar player, and he was really instrumental in getting me into being an electric guitar player." --Jorma Kaukonen

"He just played circles around anything I could play." --Bob Dylan

"I became a Bloomfield fan when that first Butterfield Blues Band record came out. We were all just awestruck." --Bob Weir

"I think the music industry owes Michael Bloomfield far more than they realize." --Bill Graham

"This was a major league guy. He helped people live their lives. He was a huge giant of a person." --Nick Gravenites


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (October 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879306173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879306175
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gotta confess, I never really appreciated the depth of Mike Bloomfield's talent when he was in his heyday. Oh yeah, I was a fan of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and of the Electric Flag, but I never did buy wholly into the "Bloomfield as guitar god" mantra that many of my slightly older friends and schoolmates did. Perhaps if I had been just a little older when he was at his zenith, I would have understood just how musically important he was!

If You Love These Blues was brought to my attention by one of the book's authors who had e-mailed me about one of my reviews on amazon. His description of it sounded interesting, so I took a chance and ordered it here. Am I ever glad I did! Not only did I get a book chock full of interesting stories and anecdotes about Bloomfield and those who surrounded him, I also got a magnificent CD of previously unissued 1964 Bloomfield recordings, from the vaults so to speak.

The book:

If You Love These Blues is not a traditional biography, rather it is a compilation and arrangement of interviews of Bloomfield himself (before his death, of course), his colleagues, his intimates, and some of his important acquaintances given over the years as Bloomfield's life is explored from his youth until his untimely death. Some of the interviews of those important in his life were given years after Bloomfield's death and help the reader to form a retrospective impression of the sort of guy Bloomfield was.

At first I was skeptical about how this style of biography would work out, now I see that it was probably the best way to approach Bloomfield's story. The interviews and stories are not haphazardly arranged, but are in such an order as to give the reader a coherent overview of each important period of Bloomfield's life.
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By A Customer on October 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you loved Mike Bloomfield in the 60's, you'll probably feel as I did, that you need this book. It's much more comprehensive than Ed Ward's "Rise and Fall of an American Guitar hero" as regards Michael's childhood and teenage years in the suburbs of Chicago, and his forays into the blues world of Chicago's South Side. The story is narrated by Michael's family, friends and bandmates. It gives you a sense of Michael the person, but seems a bit disjointed at times , as the narration jumps back and forth between voices. The tone is a bit reverential, with none of the humor that Bloomfield would have insisted on, had he been here. The more lurid aspects of the story are somewhat played down, though various people address "the issue" from their points of view. Though there is more of the story of Michael the person, "If You Love These Blues" is less visually interesting than the Ward book (currently out of print). The small photos are scattered through the book, and there are no glossy photos, other than the riveting cover shot. In fairness, the pictures are rare (some are family photos). But there are too many photos of Bloomfield's friends, relative to the number of pictures of the books subject. The gist of the book? It's the age-old tale of the tortured artist. The image, especially that of the tortured blues guitarist is a powerful 20th century archetype, and if you relate to that, or if you are a fan of Michael Bloomfield the musician, you'll enjoy this. There is also a cd included, though I would rather listen to the recent "Don't Say That I Ain't Your Man" for musical references to the earlier periods of Bloomfield's recording career covered in the book. Bottom line? Enjoyable, a good introduction to one of the giants of American pop music in the 60's.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is, and will probably remain, THE book on Mike Bloomfield. The only other book worth having is Ed Ward's "Rise And Fall Of An American Guitar Hero", which is out of print and very expensive in the secondary market; Ward's book also has some inaccuracies.

For many people, Mike Bloomfield is someone they know from the famed "Super Session" album from the late 1960s. Others may know him from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Few, however, realize the true breadth and depth of his recording career or his intelligence and humanity. This book goes a long way to painting a picture of who and what Mike really was.

This book is basically a long collection of quotes and remembrances of Mike by the people who were part of his life. In a loose sense of the word, it is a biography. It captures, more importantly, Mike as a person and the truly extraordinary person he was.

The CD is worth the price of the book alone, containing three solo acoustic tracks from Norman Dayron's apartment in January 1964 and four live performances from October 1964 (three electric and one piano).

The discography is about as good and up to date as is available. I am working on a proper discography, which I hope to have published within a year.

If you like Mike Bloomfield or his music or are just plain curious about this extraordinary human being, this book is absolutely essential.
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Format: Hardcover
Although he is relatively unknown today outside the guitar community, in his time Mike Bloomfield was as huge an influence as Clapton and possibly Hendrix. I remember hearing the first Butterfield album (I borrowed it in return for the first Blues Project album). This was the most stunning guitar player I ever heard (the sentiment of a million or more players and fans). Contrary to popular belief, the 60s blues revival began with Butterfield, not the British blues bands. Bloomfield was the driving force of that band. His importance can not be over stated. Bloomfield's playing was central to the development of horn based rock, raga rock, folf rock (Dylan's gunslinger on Highway 61) and almost every other blues flavored style of the period. San Francisco Acid Rock was even reportedly an attampt in part to copy the improvisational excursions of the Butterfield band. Bloomfield's playing is felt in every important blues rock guitar player up to the advent of Stevie Ray Vaughan. For that reason alone, this book is long overdue and a must read for anyone interested in American music. To boot, Bloomfield was a virtual encyclopedia of the blues form (reflected in his later work).
Wolkin and Keenom's book provides a good overview of Bloomfield's work and accurately captures the spirit of the period of music covered. The narrative style, culled from interviews with a host of contemporary musicians, is a feast of more obscure information and frames a clear image of what he may have been like as a person. Carlos Santana's preface is a heartfeld and loving tribute to a mentor and musical colleague. A lengthy discography is provided.
Two concerns with the book: more (and better reproduced) pictures would have made it a more enjoyable experience for a book of this type. Also, when is someone going to write a book which delves deeply into his guitar style. After all, that is why he is so important. In fact, Fender should rename the Telecaster after him for all the instruments he sold!
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