Great Music Writing Found Here

23 Oct

I recently received a copy of this book and ripped through it in just a couple of days. What an amazing, diverse collection of writers and subjects. If you love American music, you will find plenty to savor here. And even if you consider yourself a music scholar, you will surely be inspired to learn more about one of the artists or subjects featured in these pages. Marc Smirnoff, the editor of the wonderful Oxford American magazine, did a terrific job in assembling these articles — all of which have previously appeared in the pages of the OA.

Blind Tom Wiggins’ story is amazing

Most all of the stories are worthwhile with my favorites being the vignettes on the forgotten Blind Tom Wiggins, Minstral Show icon Emmett Miller, Chris Bell of Big Star, folk legend Fred Neil (composer of “Everybody’s Talkin”), Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” hanging out in the 70s with Jerry Lee Lewis, and Schoolhouse Rock composer and Arkansas native Bob Dorough.

Bob Dorough composed & performed the above kiddie classic

Buy this book now and then subscribe to the Oxford American — you’ll love it!

Here is the product description found on Amazon.com …

Not only have a breathtaking array of musical giants come from the South—think Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Rodgers, to name just obvious examples—but so have a breathtaking array of American music genres. From blues to rock & roll to jazz to country to bluegrass—and areas in between—it all started in the American South. Since its debut in 1996, The Oxford American’s more-or-less annual Southern Music Issue has become legendary for its passionate and wide-ranging approach to music and for working with some of America’s greatest writers. These writers—from Peter Guralnick to Nick Tosches to Susan Straight to William Gay—probe the lives and legacies of Southern musicians you may or may not yet be familiar with, but whom you’ll love being introduced, or reintroduced, to. In one creative, fresh way or another, these writers also uncover the essence of music—and why music has such power over us. To celebrate ten years of Southern music issues, most of which are sold-out or very hard to find, the fifty-five essays collected in this dynamic, wide-ranging, and vast anthology appeal to both music fans and fans of great writing.

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One Response to “Great Music Writing Found Here”

  1. David Ryan February 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    If you want to learn more about Blind Tom, there a new book out about him called The Ballad of Blind Tom. The LA Times gave it a great review, Check this out:

    “The name Blind Tom means nothing today, but in Civil War-era America, he was one of the greatest music stars going. Sightless, African American, he was born into slavery and was probably autistic. He was afraid of strangers and clung to his guardians. He would slap those who laughed at him and shove women off the piano bench when their playing offended him.

    Whooping and sputtering, he would twist his body into knots, standing on one foot and leaning forward, hopping around the room in fits of vigor broken up by somersaults and twirls. He ate with his hands, when he didn’t put his face down into his food.

    And he was called a genius by those who heard him play the piano. Blind Tom had freakish listening skills and an amazing talent for reproducing what he heard. He could play back complicated music he’d listened to but once; he could translate the external phenomena that transfixed him — rainstorms, trains, sewing machines — into impressionistic musical fantasies.”

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