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Author Topic: McTell Book  (Read 22844 times)

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Offline SpikeDriver

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McTell Book
« on: December 19, 2005, 02:28:09 PM »
This is probably old news to the insiders on this forum, just wondering what others have heard about this:

Author looking for Blind Willie stories
5/19/2005

From: McDuffie Mirror, Georgia

By: Jerrie MacIntire, Staff Writer

Submitted by Leon Gilbert

British author Michael Gray has traveled a long way in his quest to bring the story of Blind Willie McTell to music fans.

Mr. Gray, critically acclaimed for his biography entitled Song and Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, is wrapping up the life story of Blind Willie McTell, the great blues and gospel artist from Happy Valley in McDuffie County.

"I've been working very hard on it all this year, after many research trips in the previous few years. It's a labor of love," he said.

Mr. Gray appealed to McDuffie County residents for information on Blind Willie McTell in a letter to the editor of The McDuffie Mirror in December 2004.

He has traveled the back roads of Georgia and other states where Blind Willie McTell lived and played the guitar, and has come up with several interesting facts about the musician's life.

"Essentially, the research is done, but there are still a couple of mysteries I still hold out some hope of solving in the next few weeks," he said.

The book should hit the shelves of stores in England in June 2006, although the publication date for the United States is not yet settled. Mr. Gray's book will be the only biography about the extraordinary blues singer from McDuffie County.

"I was surprised to find that no one had ever written his biography - he's a very interesting figure, and he lived in an interesting time and place: the Georgia of the pre-Civil Rights era."

Mr. Gray is impressed with both the music and the man.

"Being born blind into a black working class family in rural Georgia in an era of strict segregation was a big combination of obstacles for anyone. But in the end, his blindness freed him from the fate of being a farmhand, and so enabled him to travel further afield and develop his musicianship," he said.

"Because he was a bright, resourceful man, who never behaved like he was handicapped, yet took the trouble to go to the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon and learn to read Braille, and because he was a brilliant 12-string guitar player and had a lovely voice, he succeeded."

Mr. Gray is a big fan of Blind Willie McTell's music, and especially enjoys, "Mama Taint Long Fore Day," "Broke Down Engine," "Sending Up My Timber" and "Hide Me In Thy Bosom."

His book won't be just about music, however.

"It's for anyone with an interest in the history of the 20th Century, and especially the history of the African Americans in Georgia. It's written for people who've never even heard of Blind Willie McTell, and it aims to be a rattling good story," he said.

Although the book is almost complete, Mr. Gray is still interested in any Blind Willie McTell stories. For those with information to share, contact Carolyn Gilbert, Chamber director, at 597-1000.

Offline onewent

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2005, 04:41:22 PM »
...thanks for the info, SpikeD ... I'm looking forward to the publication and hope someone on board gives a heads up when it happens ...

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2005, 11:46:25 PM »
...thanks for the info, SpikeD ... I'm looking forward to the publication and hope someone on board gives a heads up when it happens ...
He's been working on this biography since 2000 but I believe his publisher has put back publication until spring 2007.
I've known Michael since late 60s when he was working in the press office of WEA in London. His knowledge of blues is verging on that of the music of Dylan and anybody who has read Song & Dance Man III can't but fail to be impressed with his 120 page chapter on blues or the rather less lengthy 30 pages devoted to McTell.
I somehow can't see the BWMcT book being the astonishing 900 pages that was S&DMIII.? :D

Offline uncle bud

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2005, 08:49:12 AM »
anybody who has read Song & Dance Man III can't but fail to be impressed with his 120 page chapter on blues or the rather less lengthy 30 pages devoted to McTell.

Wasn't the chapter on blues available somewhere online at some point or as an excerpt somewhere? Or am I misremembering again...

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2005, 01:10:56 AM »
My set of the Routledge encyclopedia has arrived from Amazon.The McTell entry is contributed by Gray. IMHO it is an object lesson in something which I can't quite put my finger on. It not only makes the character 'come alive' but manages to capture culture, history, music etc etc with knowledge and without dogma - also makes one want to listen to the records! If the forthcoming book is researched/written to this standard then I think it will be worth the wait.
As a side issue,? the McTell entry is of an adequate length. Poor old Jesse Fuller is only deserving of 4.5 lines (born, recorded 50s/60s, died) whilst Stevie Ray Vaughan has a blow-by-blow account in a staggering 5 columns. I say no more...

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2007, 12:03:24 PM »
I had posted this in the McTell LoC discussion topic but have removed as probably better placed here. This is the blurb from Amzon UK who give a publication date of 2nd July (believe that when I see it)

Hardcover ?17.99
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2 Jul 2007)
ISBN-10: 0747565600
ISBN-13: 978-0747565604
Product Dimensions: 6 x 9.2 inches
Synopsis
Blind Willie McTell, 1903-1959, was one of the most gifted musical artists of his generation, with an exquisite voice and a sublime talent for the twelve-string guitar. As Bob Dylan wrote, "nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell" - yet his repertoire was infinitely wider than that. Why, then, did he drift in and out of the public eye, being 'rediscovered' time and again through chance meetings; and why, until now, has so little been written about the life of this extraordinary man? Blind from birth, McTell never behaved as if he were handicapped by his lack of sight and he explodes every stereotype about blues musicians. Michael Gray has travelled the American South and beyond to unearth the fascinating story of McTell's life - uncovering the secrets of his ancestry, the hardships he suffered and the successes he enjoyed at a time when recording contracts didn't lift you out of singing on the street. In this personal and moving odyssey into a lost world of early blues music, a vulnerable black population and more, Gray peels back the many layers of a tragic, occasionally shocking but ultimately uplifting story, giving us an intimate portrait of a remarkable man and showing how his life connects to the tumultuous sweep of history. Getting the story is part of the story itself, and Gray's quest for facts and details suggests that perhaps little has changed in the Deep South even today. Part biography, part travelogue, part social history, this is an atmospheric, unforgettable tale.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2007, 11:09:41 PM »
I've been sent a rather small JPEG of the book's dust jacket. Apparently Bloombury's publication date of 2nd July for the UK is firm as is the price of 20GBP. Amazon UK already have it discounted to 12GBP.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2007, 12:25:42 PM »
Bloomsbury must be confident that the book will be published in UK on 2nd July their web site has the following talk/signing session listed!

Michael Gray
Arnolfini Arts Centre
Date: 7 July 2007     Time: 19:30
Address:   16 Narrow Quay Bristol
Box Office:   0117 917 2300
Website:   www.arnolfini.org.uk

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 12:47:49 PM »
I've been speaking on the phone with somebody who last week received from Bloomsbury Press a review copy - all 435 pages of it - ahead of the publication date of 9th July. The UK price has been increased to 25GBP but I note that Amazon UK is virtually giving it away. :)

It seems that  US, European and other foreign rights have yet to be negotiated so it may be some months before available outside of the UK and Commonwealth! 

Offline Murphydog

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2007, 01:18:00 PM »
I have a review copy of this but have yet to crack it open. I'll post a review just as soon as I get through it, looks tasty though!
Paul

Offline natterjack

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2007, 11:08:57 AM »
Just had notification from Amazon that they have dispatched my order of this - ahead of schedule

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2007, 11:13:59 AM »
Just had notification from Amazon that they have dispatched my order of this - ahead of schedule
Snap - me too!

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2007, 11:27:43 PM »
Amazon UK have it discounted from 25GBP to 10.68GBP which is a bargain for a hardback of 400 pages. Don't know how long this offer will last...even paying for airmail to US can't cost more than 5-10GBP. :)

Offline blueshome

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2007, 05:06:13 AM »
My copy has just been sent. It'll be another week before I see it as we are decamped to Cornwall to enjoy the rain.

Offline SteveMcBill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2007, 09:02:01 AM »
My copy, ordered from Amazon at ?10.59, arrived this morning - looking forward to reading it.

Amazon e-mailed me yesterday to say it was on its way - excellent service.

One odd item - at over 400 pages the book feels remarkably light in weight - still that doesn't affect the content.

Cheers

Steve


 


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