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When they took me to the studio first - that was Joe McCoy and Mayo Williams - they let me wait about for hours because the studio wasn't free. So I said to myself "What the hell's the use of this; I better go home to see to my customers and give them that moonshine" - Kokomo Arnold, in Paul Oliver's Blues Off the Record

Author Topic: Errors in Samuel Charters' The Country Blues  (Read 1619 times)

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Offline repeater

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Errors in Samuel Charters' The Country Blues
« on: March 15, 2010, 10:45:59 AM »
In the Preface to the 1975 Edition of the Country Blues, Charters alludes to errors in the book, but says that he's leaving them uncorrected and doesn't even specify what they are.

If anyone knows what some of those mistakes might be, or knows of a source which identifies and corrects them, and wouldn't mind sharing here, I'd very much appreciate it.  Many thanks.

Offline Stumblin

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  • Got the Blues, can't be satisfied
Re: Errors in Samuel Charters' The Country Blues
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 11:06:13 AM »
Well, for starters there's all that stuff about Lightnin' Hopkins being the last of the rural bluesmen.
It's been a few years since I read it though, and there are probably a few other questionable statements in there.
It's worth bearing in mind that the book was written half a century ago, and we now know a lot more about the blues than we did then.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Errors in Samuel Charters' The Country Blues
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 12:58:30 PM »
Something in the back of my mind tells me that when the British edition of the book was published by Michael Joseph in 1960 a review which appeared in either Jazz Monthly or Jazz Journal pointed out some mistakes or omissions but damned if I can recall the nature of them. I can visualize the use of the phrase "bare light bulbs and bare floor boards" when describing SC's narrative style. But that's Brit reviewers of the time for you!  ;D

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Errors in Samuel Charters' The Country Blues
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 12:59:31 PM »
Seems like one error may be Charters' claim that King Solomon Hill was really Big Joe Williams.
Indeed. However, SC was only repeating what BJW claimed to Bob Koester in interview in 1955, namely that HE was KSH. Koester repeated it in his 1957 liner notes to "Piney Wood Blues" (Delmark 602). Back then who was to know any different? When David Mangurian interviewed BJW in 1961 he was still maintaining he was KSH. He told Mangurian he got the name from a little place down near Mobile where he had a girl at the time.

Koester reissued his LP in 1969 and added a footnote to the original explaining how research and better knowledge has disproved BJW's assertion.

Apologies I seem to have irrelevantly burbled on somewhat.....  :(

Tags: Samuel Charters 

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