Black & Blue Feel like Going Home
Black & Blue
Feel like Going Home
by Peter Guralnick
'They're better off there' (in country music) 'They're in touch with a real market that has stayed loyal to the kind of music they've played over the years. They're removed, too, from the scrutiny of the critics, and from books like this one which can only feed the growing self-consciousness of a music that was originally meant to deny the rigidity of claims.'
This quote from Guralnick shows that he is unusually aware of the obvious problems of condescension, intellectualisation and downright incomprehension that intrude on enterprises like this.
The result is a particularly lively and intelligent book not concerned with exploring ancient blues birthplaces and establishing theses. Guralnick's interest is in the music and its makers - an extraordinary vivid and eccentric bunch.
There's no pandering to subject or audience. The gulf between the writer (white, late 20s from Massachusetts) and his subjects (mainly black, Southern upbringing, none younger than Jerry Lee Lewis) is freely admitted. The tension of the interviews is apparent, but his subjects come through with dignity and honesty intact. No-one is used as an easy subject to hang a treatise on.
The book was published in the States in 1971, but Guralnick has added postscripts and an epilogue. Time too has added its ironies. The book's saddest chapter of commercial failure — Charlie Rich — is now a huge success, while two who were still swimming against the tide — the incomparable Howlin' Wolf, and his label Chess — are no more. Jerry Lee's apparently contented marriage also ended bitterly even before the book's original publication date.
An unusually readable book, especially if you have an interest in blues and early rock'n'roll and its relationship with the music business, Feel Like Going Home is a big handsomely-illustrated (many Val Wilmer photos alongside an intelligent use of archive material) paperback priced £2.95.
Publishers: UK: Music Sales Ltd, (Contact Details). Australia: Music Sales Pty. Ltd, (Contact Details). West Germany: Music Sales GmbH, (Contact Details)
Sound Reports & Views
Review by Rob Mackie
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