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Revelation Blind Willie Johnson The Biography. Paperback – 8 Aug 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu Enterprises, UK Ltd (8 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430328991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430328995
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Phil the Fluter on 31 Aug. 2007
This book is obviously a labour of love. The author has transcribed all of Blind Willie's lyrics and brought us a whole new listening experience as a result. I have been enjoying Johnson's records since the 1960s. He has an amazing voice - a deep growl at times, a light tenor at others. On top of this, he is - according to almost every critic - the finest slide guitar player who ever lived. His songs are all religious; but they may as well be in a foreign language in places. Blind Willie's dialect and slurred delivery obscure a huge percentage of them. Now, at last, we know what he is singing about. Blakey has not only written the words down - he has also commented on the content: where the words come from, what they are referring to, what they mean. Take a look at the chapter on "If I Had My Way". What an awe inspiring performance from Willie! What enlightenment from Blakey! He explains the story of Samson and then links it to every line of the song, filling in the gaps, demonstrating the song's misconceptions, giving us sensible interpretations of the words. That is the strength of this publication. Okay, Blakey recounts the research concerning Johnson's life and he tells us a little about guitar tunings and such; but the backbone of the book - the main reason to read and enjoy it - is Johnson's lyrics and their meanings. They have never been so accurately interpreted before. That alone makes it a 5-star read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joe on 16 April 2012
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I bought this book to use as research for an essay I am writing for my music degree. Unfortunately, it features very little biographical detail. While I realise the difficulties in finding out the details of Johnson's life, there is nothing in the book which can't be found on the internet or in CD sleevenotes, and there is too much unverified speculation. In fact, the author has missed some very basic information, such as the fact that Johnson's mother died when he was a baby. Instead this is merely hinted at when Blakey writes that the song "Mother's Children..." was very personal to Johnson. On top of this, the book is very poorly edited, often stopping a sentence in the middle of a line, followed by a huge space, with the sentence continued on the next page. Finally, the writing is fairly mediocre, with an over abundance of exclamation marks which becomes very irritating very quickly.

Clearly it is an imppressive feat to have transcribed all of Johnson's lyrics as accurately as Blakey has done, and some of his notes on tunings and things in the guitar parts are very useful. This is pretty much all that is keeping me from giving this book a one star review though, and for the price I paid (around £16) it definitely did not represent value for money. Sadly, I have been unable to find a better book about Blind Willie Johnson, and he is criminally under-represented in many of the general blues histories I have read. So if, like me, you are interested in this book for research purposes then try and find it used and cheap; if you are merely a curious blues fan then I'd advise you to keep your money in your pocket.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Perry on 17 Sept. 2007
You get both the history of Blind Willie AND the lyrics to all of his songs. A wonderful book - you can read it as a biography as well as read it while you listen to the songs. The music takes on a whole new proportion. Doesn't get much better than that!
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