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Author Topic: McTell Book  (Read 22963 times)

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Offline dj

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2007, 10:03:42 AM »
It would be great if one (or more) of you guys who have the book would post some comments on the contents.  Though for the equivalent of $21.52 US, I'm tempted to just order the book from Amazon UK.

   

Offline jostber

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2007, 02:33:22 PM »
I have ordered it too today! Looking forward to a good read on this great blues man.

HankChinaski

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2007, 09:36:28 PM »
I ordered mine to the States today.  I will post a review as soon as it arrives & I read the same.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2007, 01:31:04 AM »
McTell on the buses! In Edinburgh there's a free newspaper that is distributed on the buses, for commuters to read on their way to work. Yesterday's edition featured a review of the McTell book and a picture of Blind Willie. Very unusual to get mainstream exposure in a mass circulation - and not very highbrow - paper. I think Michael Gray has kudos from having  written the Dylan book, so that's probably why his latest attracted the journalist's interest? Anyway, I'm about half way through the book at the moment. I find it extremely well written and informative, dispelling a few myths along the way - not least BTW's birthdate, or the notion that he and Riley Puckett may have shared a school bench at one time. The travelogue aspect is vivid and atmospheric for those of us who live a long way from Georgia, and the socio-political themes that form the backdrop to the story of Willie's family are as fascinating as they are disturbing. I'd highly recommend this.
Prof S

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2007, 11:41:50 AM »
Having read the book I have refrained from passing comment on the grounds that I might be biased as Michael and I are friends. However (there's always a "however") for what it's worth I think that it's an absorbing read. The approach is refreshingly different to the accepted, and formulaic, nature of previous pre-war blues biography (Leadbelly, Charlie Patton, Memphis Minnie or Skip James). By placing McTell in his historical, geographical and cultural settings brings a fascinating (and literate) new perspective on the man, his music and his times. For those who haven't seen it there's a very perceptive write-up at The Woodshed
http://tinyurl.com/2n2tb7

HankChinaski

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2007, 05:06:25 PM »
McTell on the buses! In Edinburgh there's a free newspaper that is distributed on the buses, for commuters to read on their way to work. Yesterday's edition featured a review of the McTell book and a picture of Blind Willie. Very unusual to get mainstream exposure in a mass circulation - and not very highbrow - paper. I think Michael Gray has kudos from having  written the Dylan book, so that's probably why his latest attracted the journalist's interest? Anyway, I'm about half way through the book at the moment. I find it extremely well written and informative, dispelling a few myths along the way - not least BTW's birthdate, or the notion that he and Riley Puckett may have shared a school bench at one time. The travelogue aspect is vivid and atmospheric for those of us who live a long way from Georgia, and the socio-political themes that form the backdrop to the story of Willie's family are as fascinating as they are disturbing. I'd highly recommend this.
Prof S

I am so excited.  McTell's music has always struck me on a very visceral and emotional level; perhaps more so than any other pre-war bluesman.  At the same time, I have never been able to uncover anything about his life aside from the usual small writeups and whatever can be gleaned from the Lomax interviews (which fall short at best).  I am very curious to know what research has been conducted aside from what is already known and how this will add to my understanding of the man.  Again, I haven't been this excited about a biography of a musician for a long time.  It is wonderful that a publishing house agreed to release this book.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2007, 05:08:08 PM by HankChinaski »

Offline natterjack

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2007, 04:21:02 AM »
I finished the book a couple of days ago and would definitely recommend it. It's one of the most readable blues "biographies" I've come across. Quite often these, whilst interesting, are either overly academic and analytical or riddled with errors. As Scratchy mentioned, the travalogue and historical aspects of the book are fascinating and although not directly about McTell, contribute to the overall understanding of him. The book has obviously been throughly researched and turned up a great deal of new information. I would have liked to see some more photos, but apart from this, I would very highly recommend it.

Offline Rivers

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2007, 05:45:11 AM »
There's a tantalizing excerpt on Bloomsbury's site

This is no doubt an important book and I'm dying to get my hands on it. Yet again I think we should give kudos to the British blues researchers, fans and publishers who have so many times over the last 60 years or so helped to keep the fire burning. Makes me proud to be an ex-pat.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 05:46:34 AM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2007, 09:12:47 AM »
McTell on the buses! In Edinburgh there's a free newspaper that is distributed on the buses, for commuters to read on their way to work. Yesterday's edition featured a review of the McTell book and a picture of Blind Willie. Very unusual to get mainstream exposure in a mass circulation - and not very highbrow - paper. I think Michael Gray has kudos from having  written the Dylan book, so that's probably why his latest attracted the journalist's interest? Anyway, I'm about half way through the book at the moment. I find it extremely well written and informative, dispelling a few myths along the way - not least BTW's birthdate, or the notion that he and Riley Puckett may have shared a school bench at one time. The travelogue aspect is vivid and atmospheric for those of us who live a long way from Georgia, and the socio-political themes that form the backdrop to the story of Willie's family are as fascinating as they are disturbing. I'd highly recommend this.
Prof S
Again, I haven't been this excited about a biography of a musician for a long time.  It is wonderful that a publishing house agreed to release this book.

I agree with Prof. Scratchy re. Gray and the Dylan book. Gray has proven himself to be a very good writer, not just another researcher, which no doubt makes it much easier to sell this kind of idea to a publisher. I'm very much looking forward to reading his book.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2007, 09:50:53 AM »
Three questions for Bunker Hill to pass on to Mr Gray: when and why did Blind Willie ditch McTear and adopt McTell? Why did his pals call him Doog or Doogie? And why did he get through so many guitars?? Now, I've still got a third left to read, so all may become apparent. Or I may have turned over two pages at once and missed the page that answers all these questions. This is the most enjoyable and instructive blues book I've read in a long time: entertaining, erudite, gripping, fun. Buy it if you haven't already.

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2007, 07:49:44 PM »
I can't decide between Shout Sister Shout or Blind Willie's biography, Ahh!!

Anyone here read both of 'em??

HankChinaski

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2007, 07:13:22 PM »
It showed up today.  Wow.  From the preliminary browsing that I have completed, what a great book.  Not only does it follow an interesting narrative detailing the modern south versus that of McTell's era, but it is literally chock full of new information that I had no idea existed about McTell and his contemporaries.  I am guessing that this book is to some degree the definitive book on Curley Weaver and Buddy Moss as well (it isn't that a wealth of info exists on either man in the Gray's book, but there is very little in print info on either man anywere).  This is probably the best researched book I have ever read on a pre-1940's blues artist.  I highly recommend it to anyone that has an interest.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2007, 02:32:33 PM »
About half way through- its fascinating and very obviously researched in imculate detail which is perhaps rare in many fields.

I have a little pet hate about the way the author slips into the present tense like a sports reporter ("he's slipped his marker and he's nodded it in at the back post") but thats probably just me being petty :-)

I have the JSP Mctell boxed set but embarrassingly I wsa unaware of the final session recording.  The opening pages of this book prompted me to get out of bed, log on to Amazon, and get my order in immediately!

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2007, 10:20:12 AM »
Michael Gray has set up a blog at

http://handmemytravelinshoes.blogspot.com/

where he states that Bloomsbury have already had to reprint the work.

He also has added one or two items that the publishers cut out from the manuscript. I shall be following this blog with keen interest.  :)

Offline dj

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Re: McTell Book
« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2007, 09:52:31 AM »
Here's a quote from one of Michael Gray's blog entries (August 9, 2007) that's worthy of wider dissemination and should be of particular interest to Weenies.  Quotes this good seem usually to be apocryphal.  I hope this one isn't...   

Quote
...one of those who talked to Willie towards the end of his life was Bruce Utah Phillips, and though this bit of the interview Mr. Phillips gave me (in May 2004) ended up pruned out of the book, he reported this:

"I was curious about what this music, when it was in the jazz houses and the jook joints: what did it sound like? [I asked Willie:] 'When you were young, what d?you sound like?' And he said 'You want to hear what we sounded like when we were your age, you listen to early Elvis Presley.'... I don?t think he was joking, either."

How did this ever get cut from the book?

 


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