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Blues fans are just thick. You can play them any old rubbish and they'll cheer. It doesn't matter how badly you play because blues fans, who are supposed to he so intelligent, will accept anything, however abysmal' - Chris Mercer, quoted by the mysterious Neville Wiggins, The History of Rock Volume 5 Issue 56 (Stepping Out), 1983, p.1101-1103

Author Topic: Roosevelt's Blues  (Read 930 times)

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Offline dj

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Roosevelt's Blues
« on: May 18, 2010, 04:09:55 PM »
Every once in a while I come across a book that I've known about for years but never read, and when I do read it, I regret that I didn't read it 10 years sooner.  Roosevelt's Blues by Guido van Rijn is such a book.  Maybe it's the subtitle, "African-American Blues And Gospel Songs On FDR", that made me keep putting it off.  If it had been more accurately subtitled "The Depression And War Years As Seen Through Blues And Gospel Lyrics", I think I would have sought out the book much sooner.  At any rate, now that I've read it, I'm glad I did.  If you've ever wondered about Red Cross Stores, or exactly what the CWA, PWA, WPA, or any other set of initials really meant and how they affected the lives of Americans, this book is for you.  Van Rijn explains the story of the real Sylvester behind Memphis Minnie's "Sylvester And His Mule", and makes clear exactly what the "bonus" was that soldiers were getting.  Along the way, he quotes the complete lyrics of over a hundred songs (well, almost complete;  he leaves out repeated lines and only gives a chorus at its first appearance).  I have a few quibbles with some of van Rijn's lyric transcriptions, as well as with a few of his interpretations of lyrics.  But these are just minor.  On the whole, this is an excellent and very readable book.  If you don't have it, I highly recommend it.

The current Roots & Rhythm catalog lists this book at half price: $8.98 US.       

 


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