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Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey [Paperback]

Peter Guralnick , Robert Santelli , Holly George-Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2005

A companion to the groundbreaking PBS documentary series, this volume is a unique and timeless celebration of the blues, from writers and artists as esteemed and revered as the music that moved them.

Included in this stunning collection are

  • Essays by David Halberstam, Hilton Als, Suzan-Lori Parks, Elmore Leonard, Luc Sante, John Edgar Wideman, and many others
  • Timeless archival pieces by writers such as Stanley Booth, Paul Oliver, and Mack McCormick
  • Evocative color illustrations and rare vintage photography
  • Illuminating and in-depth conversations and portraits of musicians, ranging from Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith to John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton
  • Lyrics of legendary blues compositions
  • Personal essays by the series directors Martin Scorsese, Charles Burnett, Richard Pearce, Wim Wenders, Marc Levin, Mike Figgis, and Clint Eastwood
  • Excerpts from literary masters James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and William FaulknerTracing the art form's path from juke joints, house parties, and recording studios to musicians such as Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues proves, in the words of Willie Dixon, "The blues are the roots; every-thing else is the fruits."

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Frequently Bought Together

Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey + Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey [DVD] + The Devil's Music: History of the Blues
Price For All Three: £33.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (1 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060525452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060525453
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description

Review

“A must for any real blues fan.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“A literary sampler as vibrant and original as the films and music that inspired it.” (The Times (Shreveport, LA))

“Read the book … essential … for anyone who cares about American history, black culture and current music.” (Miami Herald)

“Brilliant.” (Toronto Star)

“Breaking new ground.” (Crain's New York Business)

“[One of the] ‘Twelve Books of Christmas’ ... the perfect gift for the music lover.” (Calgary Sun)

About the Author

Peter Guralnick is the author of numerous seminal works of music and popular culture, including Searching for Roberth Johnson and a two-volume biography of Elvis Presley. He lives in West Newbury, Massachusetts.

Robert Santelli is the Executive Director of the Experience Music Project and author/editor of The Big Book of the Blues and American Roots Music; he lives in Seattle.

Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer and editor who has contributed to more than forty books about rock & roll. She is the author of Punk 365, Grateful Dead 365, and Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry, among other books. She cowrote The Road to Woodstock and is coeditor of The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey, and Farm Aid: A Song for America. Her writing has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Mojo, and the Village Voice.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
1903. The place: Tutwiler, a tiny town in the Mississippi Delta, halfway between Greenwood and Clarksdale. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of blues thankfully little about the movies 18 Nov 2010
By Gizmophobic VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I delayed buying this as it sounded like one of those spin off publications released to screw a few more quid out of those who'd bought the movies. It isn't. Instead its a collection of extracts and articles about a a wide variety of blues artists and blues history. Many of the former are taken from previous books and magazines but there is also
much new material. Usefully, for those of us with more blues books than we can remember, old and new are clearly identified in the text. The former entries, marked from the archives, feature many of the classic authors, Guralnick,
Oliver, Booth, Gordon etc. and should encourage newcomers to seek them out, and the rest of us to take them off the shelf. There is plenty to enjoy in the new contributions too.

While the book takes its structure from the movies the only references to them comes at the start of each chapter with a short, and usually informative, contribution from the director. Wenders is disarmingly honest and made me a bit more sympathetic to his film, Charles Burnett confirms my poor impression of his. (Since I read the book in parallel with re-watching the movies I've reviewed these separately under their own titles for those interested.)
Each subsequent chapter then groups relevant items around the subject matter, e.g. Delta, Chicago, piano players etc.
This is both entertaining and consistently informative, I wish the movies were all as good. There is a brief half hearted attempt at recommending cds at the end of each chapter which is idiosyncratic and at times downright misleading, however as an intelligent introduction to blues literature the book comes highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant blues bargain 26 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback
overview of seven individual dvds covering a wide range of blues music and their origins, plus a social history of african americans, their music and culture.

shows where all modern music originated and the changes that took place from then to now.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blues.... 23 Jun 2004
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"The blues - it's kind of like religion, really." - Peter Green
In this companion book to MARTIN SCORSESE PRESENTS THE BLUES: A MUSICAL JOURNEY, a PBS/DVD series, numerous music historians and period writers take on the task of capturing the very essence of the genre that gave birth to rock and roll. Peter Guralnick says in his introduction that the purpose of the companion book was to "reflect and refract the spirit of the blues" and to compile "something deeper and more spiritual than a mere recitation of the facts."
Mainstay blues historians such as Christopher John Farley, Peter Guralnick, Alan Lomax, Paul Trynka, and Robert Gordon have their place in the companion book by contributing their biographical and historical research as well as adding some new information to the blues arsenal. Excerpts from Gordon's CAN'T BE SATISFIED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MUDDY WATERS and Trynka's PORTRAIT OF THE BLUES are included alongside new entries such as Christopher John Farley's "Bessie Smith: Who Killed the Empress?" Present day fiction writers like Suzan Lori-Parks and Toure also offer their contributions on the blues and the legacy it left behind.
While the usual historians are included in the book, there also are many mainstream writers who have come across the blues at times in their lives. Among others, there are excerpts from Ralph Ellison's acclaimed INVISIBLE MAN, James Baldwin's FIRE NEXT TIME, and Faulkner's SOLDIER'S PAY. All of these pieces relate to the blues within their own context, and the result is a first hand account of how the blues have affected many.
The blues is an element of American culture that has spawned the genesis of many things from R&B to rock and roll and everything in between. Although the televised version of Martin Scorsese's chronicle of this genre is excellent and informative in its own right, this book affords an experience that can only be garnered by turning pages, scrutinizing photos, and reading and re-reading the bottom line, which turns out to be the blues.
Reviewed by CandaceK
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MARTIN SCORSESE PRESENTS "THE BLUES" (BOOK) 15 Nov 2008
By Gary Covington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
THIS IS A VERY COMPREHENSIVE, VERY COMPLETE, VERY WELL ILLUSTRATED, AND VERY WELL PRESENTED BOOK ON THE "BLUES". IN CONTAINS AROUND 275 PAGES.
IT STARTS OUT BY COVERING THE MISSISSIPPI "DELTA" BLUES, THEN PROGRESSES TO THE MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY BLUES, AND THEN PROCEDES ON TO OTHER CLASSES OF BLUES INCLUDING "CHICAGO BLUES". THE BOOK COVERS THE PIONEERING LEGENDS OF THE "BLUES" WHO CREATED THIS GENRE OF AMERICAN MUSIC.

THIS BOOK HAS MANY CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS AND COMMENTARIES FROM BLUES JOURALISTS TO THE ACTUAL BLUES MUSICIANS THEMSELVES!!! IT HAS A "WEALTH" OF THIS CONTRIBUTING INFORMATION, GIVING YOU A VERY AUTHORITATIVE, AND VERY AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THE STORY OF THE "BLUES". THESE COMMENTARIES RANGE FROM THE OLD LEGENDARY PIONEERS OF THE BLUES TO NEW CONTEMPORARY "BLUES' ARTIST LIKE JACK WHITE OF THE WHITE STRIPES. IT HAS COMMENTARY FROM ROBERT PALMER (THE ARKANSAS ONE - SEE MY REVIEW ON "DEEP BLUES" DVD).

IT POINTS OUT THAT AROUND THE GREAT DEPRESSION ERA, THAT BLUES REPLACED JAZZ.

It starts with the Miss. Delta Blues by telling the story of Charlie Patton, (the first King of the Delta Blues). It describes how he "WAS LEGENDARY FOR TEARING UP A JUKE JOINT WITH PERFORMANCES ON GUITAR THAT INCLUDED, PLAYING THE GUITAR BEHIND HIS HEAD, WHILE LAYING ON THE FLOOR, OR BY THROWING THE GUITAR UP IN THE AIR AND CATCHING IT,RESUMING PLAY, WITHOUT NEVER MISSING A BEAT"!!!!

Then it covers others bluesman and blues information, like the "KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR" was played at noon on radio station in Helena, Ark. in the 40's to play blues for the laborers working on both sides of the Mississippi Delta.

It covers the story of "SON HOUSE". HE WAS A PREACHER AND A BLUESMAN. HE WAS IN A "JUKE" ONE SATURDAY NIGHT AND GOT INTO A FIGHT AND WAS SHOT, SO SON HOUSE SHOT BACK AND KILLED THE MAN. THEN SON HOUSE WENT TO MISSISSIPPI'S PARCHMAN PRISONG FOR A YEAR, BUT WAS RELEASED WHEN IT WAS PROVED HE ACTED IN SELF DEFENSE.

IT TELLS THE STORY OF HOW ROBERT JOHNSON TRIED TO LEARN TO PLAY GUITAR FROM SON HOUSE. HOWEVER, SON HOUSE GOT FRUSTRATED WITH "LITTLE ROBERT", AND TOLD HIM TO GO LEARN TO PLAY THE HARMONICA, BECAUSE HE WASN'T ANY GOOD ON GUITAR. THEN ROBERT JOHNSON "DIAPPEARED" AND CAME BACK TO A "JUKE" WHERE SON HOUSE WAS PLAYING. THEN ROBERT JOHNSON OUTPLAYED SON HOUSE ON THE GUITAR AND BECAME THE "KING". IT COVERS THE MYSTERY OF ROBERT JOHNSON "SELLING HIS SOUL TO THE DEVEL" AT THE "CROSSROADS".

IT COVERS THE NORTH MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY BLUES, AND THE LEGENDS OF R.L.BURSIDE, AND FRED McDOWELL. IT COVERS JIM DICKINSON AND HIS SON LUTHER AND THE CONTEMPORARY GROUP "THE NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS" (PLEASE SEE MY REVIEW OF THEIR DVD "KEEP ON MARCHIN'".

IT COVERS ELMORE JAMES, AND THE SLIDE GUITAR TECHIQUE, STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND, JOHN LEE HOOKER, KENNY WAYNE SHEPARD, JONNY LANG, SUSAN TEDESCHI AND MANY. MANY OTHERS.

IT COVERS THE LEGENDARY "LEAD BELLY" FROM LOUISIANA. IT COVERS MUDDY WATERS, BOBBY BLUE BLAND, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, HOWLIN' WOLF, BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON, BONNIE RAITT, BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON AND OTHER VISION IMPAIRED BLUESMAN, BLIND WILLIE McTELL (KNOWN FOR THE STATESBORO BLUES - HE WAS A GREAT INFLUENCE ON THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND AND DICKEY BETTS). IT COVERS LIGHTLING HOPKINS, SKIP JAMES, MEMPHIS MINNIE, PINETOP PERKINS ,AND IT GOES ON AND ON. LIKE I STATED BEFORE IT IS COMPREHENSIVE.

IT GETS TO "CHICAGO BLUES" AND COVERS WILLIE DIXSON WHO MIGRATED THERE FROM VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI. MUDDY WATERS DID SOME OF HIS SONGS. IT COVERS THE STORY OF "HOOCHIE COOCHIE" MAN AND IT'S SEXUAL OVERTONES.

IT COVERS THE ROLLINGS STONES' ADVENTURES INTO THE BLUES.

IT EVEN COVERS MARCIA BALL FROM NEW ORLEANS, ALONG WITH DR.JOHN, PROFESSOR LONGHAIR AND B.B. KING.

IT HAS A STORY ABOUT CHRIS THOMAS KING WHO WAS IN THE MOVIE "O BROTHERM WHERE ART THOU?"

AS I MENTIONED, IT IS VERY COMPREHENSIVE, THERE ARE MANY MORE BLUES ARTISITS IN THE BOOK AND MANY MORE BLUES STORIES. THIS IS A GREAT REFERNCE BOOK ON THE BLUES. IF YOU LIKE THE BLUES, OR AMERICAN MUSIC HISTORY, YOU'LL LIKE THIS BOOK, ITS WELL ILLUSTRATED AND EASY TO READ AND FOLLOW. I HAVE LEARNED ALOT ABOUT THE BLUES FROM THIS BOOK, I ENJOY READING IT AND THEREFORE, I DO HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!!! ITS A GREAT BLUES BOOK!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Martin Scorsese - Blues A musical Journey 26 Jun 2012
By Red Eddie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must read for any fans of the Blues or anyone who wants to learn about the history of the Blues. I bought this to I could piece together all my bits of knowledge and stories I had picked up from various sources and it doesn't dissapoint.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blues Perpectives 31 May 2008
By Blues Music - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Martin Scorsese's book takes the reader on a musical journey of the blues. He really provides several blues perspectives from musicians, writers, film producers, and several other sources. I am using this book for my thesis in literature. Dr. Reginald Martin from the University of Memphis often references this book in his African American Literature courses. This book really captures the true essence of the blues people, culture, and music. It is also a companion to several films. It is an invaluable resource!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction to the Blues 15 May 2011
By George - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good introduction to the blues but scattered and unfocused as if a 100 articles from a 100 different people were thrown together. Some great insights and different views from infront and from on stage make it worth it for this alone.
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