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Brother Robert


I've been reading Brother Robert and gaining some insights to his life that make it much like other black musicians in the south in the 20's and 30's and beyond.  His interest in all kinds of music, his playing where ever he could get a gig, his family life all seem to be similar to other blues players and other musicians I've encountered on printed word and in real life. The villains in the book seems to be the white men feeding on the possibility of royalties, opportunity, treating the family as a resource to be exploited, much like the stories in the first half of the Mississippi John Hurt biography.  Am I missing something?  Was the hubris of La Vere and McCormick so cavalier?  Anyone? Is this the legacy of white America? Asking for a friend.

Tim Connor:
I had pretty much the same reaction. I wasn't that surprised by McCormick, since his obsessive, self-absorbed craziness has been well-documented, but one would have hoped that the rediscoverers of the early '60s would have had a respect for the people commensurate with their love of the music.

It was refreshing to see Bob as just a fun-loving guy with broad musical taste as an antidote to the myth of the tortured, haunted artist. It does tend to support something I've long suspected from the music itself--that Johnson, like the other bluesmen who came of age in the '30s, learned to play the blues in large part from listening to records. It wasn't really folk music anymore.


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