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Memphis Minnie Book

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Woman With Guitar by Paul and Beth Garon. This was a Xmas present but just got round to reading it. Massively disappointing. Just about got through the first 7 chapters (you can get most of what is said, and in a better format, in the Discography at the back). I persevered as we were promised that 8-20 would look at "conflicting forces of gender, race and class" in MM's work. A tall order but one, if handled sensitively, that would surely be rewarding.
Start of Ch 8, I was crushed:

"In our discussion of Minnie's songs, we have arranged the songs by analogic propensity, or to borrow an expression of Goethe's, "elective affinities", an arrangement whereby sympathies orchestrate the structure and content of an organizational method and thus bring to the surface new and often wonderful relationships".

The authors, in their bid to win the annual Bad Writing Contest, and to make us all feel inadequate and intimidated, blundered on:

"Our aim is to reveal the unheard side of Minnie's entire realm so that we might recover the power of her achievement in a way that addresses the urgent needs of humankind today".

A few pages on, in an attempt to make lucid and shine some light on this obfuscation, we are put in the capable hands of the "Senegalese surrealist Cheikh Tidane Sylla".

Bloody Hell! I urge anyone and everybody to go on YouTube and LISTEN to Memphis Minnie and give this pseudo-intellectual garbage a wide berth.

I enjoyed the biographical part of the book and the photos.  Chapter 8, the chapter on their methodology for lyrical interpretation, reads like a bad parody of academic writing, though it's obviously meant seriously.  The chapters on the lyrics aren't so bad, though sometimes they just prove that you can read anything you want into a lyric.  I have to say that I think the chapters on the lyrics were meant for a non-specialist audience, not for Weenies - most of us can interpret them just fine on our own. 


I had the misfortune to read this book many years ago and have regretted it ever since. Absolutely  awful.


Very poorly written book. I tried to read it a couple of times and it just ended in frustration.

Tim Connor:
I liked the biographical part (my favorite thing, however, was the photos of Minnie's set lists--I wish I could hear her sing "How High the Moon"). The interpretive part (Chapter 8 and following) reads like a parody of a doctoral dissertation on blues as postmodern poetry (having written a dissertation myself, I am aware of how easy it is to forget that normal people don't give a $#!+).


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