The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale
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Praised as "suave, soulful, ebullient" (Tom Waits) and "a meticulous researcher, a graceful writer, and a committed contrarian" ( New York Times Book Review), Elijah Wald is one of the leading popular music critics of his generation. In The Blues, Wald surveys a genre at the heart of American
culture.
It is not an easy thing to pin down. As Howlin'' Wolf once described it, "When you ain''t got no money and can''t pay your house rent and can''t buy you no food, you''ve damn sure got the blues." It has been defined by lyrical structure, or as a progression of chords, or as a set of practices
reflecting West African "tonal and rhythmic approaches," using a five-note "blues scale." Wald sees blues less as a style than as a broad musical tradition within a constantly evolving pop culture. He traces its roots in work and praise songs, and shows how it was transformed by such professional
performers as W. C. Handy, who first popularized the blues a century ago. He follows its evolution from Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith through Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix; identifies the impact of rural field recordings of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton and others; explores the role of blues in
the development of both country music and jazz; and looks at the popular rhythm and blues trends of the 1940s and 1950s, from the uptown West Coast style of T-Bone Walker to the "down home" Chicago sound of Muddy Waters. Wald brings the story up to the present, touching on the effects of blues on
American poetry, and its connection to modern styles such as rap.
As with all of Oxford''s Very Short Introductions, The Blues tells you--with insight, clarity, and wit--everything you need to know to understand this quintessentially American musical genre.

Review


"The most illuminating short treatment of the blues ever published."--Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal


"Both thorough and illuminating. . . . It would be impossible to pack more critical wisdom-or common sense-into a smaller, shapelier package."-- Wall Street Journal


About the Author


Elijah Wald is a musician who teaches blues history at UCLA. His books include How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ''n'' Roll, Global Minstrels, and Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
62 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Doctor Moss
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Does Exactly What It''s Meant For -- An Introduction and a Guide to Going Farther
Reviewed in the United States on May 7, 2021
This is a fast-paced history of the blues, with special attention to the not-very-sharp boundaries between the blues and other genres. The book lives up to its billing — “a very short introduction.” But that’s no knock against it. I think it does exactly the... See more
This is a fast-paced history of the blues, with special attention to the not-very-sharp boundaries between the blues and other genres.

The book lives up to its billing — “a very short introduction.” But that’s no knock against it. I think it does exactly the job it’s meant to do — read it, and find out what paths you want to go down in greater depth with other resources. And Wald provides some great guidance in his “Further reading” suggestions at the end of the book.

All that said, there’s a lot of material here — roughly chronological accounts of three primary low branches on the tree (Piedmont, Texas, and Delta) and a good bit of discussion of how the blues relates, both historically and musically, with folk, gospel, country, jazz, R&B, rock, and even hip-hop music genres, as well as relatively brief mentions of its relationship to west African music and instruments.

Although Wald’s focus is on providing an introduction and a history, he also gives us a strong commentary on blues as a genre. He starts with some definitions — ones based on the feel of the music, the 12 bar-three line musical and lyrical pattern, and the interests of marketing. No definition is exact — blues can be happy not “blue” in feeling (think jump blues, for example), it can violate the 12 bar pattern (think John Lee Hooker), and marketing is marketing.

Wald never says it in so many words, but it’s pretty clear he thinks that marketing is the driving force in musical genre definition in general. And for the blues, especially, given its identification for so many years with “race music,” that’s especially poignant. Was Hank Williams a blues artist? Why not? Was Elvis? For that matter, is Buddy Guy a rock musician?

And there’s the pop influence. If blues reaches a popular audience, suddenly it seems to be R&B. Granted “rhythm and blues” encompasses “blues” but the marketing folks pulled some sort of twist there. And there are similar boundary-jumpings between blues and rock — Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Johnny Winter, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

These distinctions can’t be nailed down in strict musical terms. The marketers who sell the music have their say, and maybe they do speak the loudest.

One criterion I always fall back on in thinking about how valuable a book on music has been is whether or not I turn from the book and buy new music. After all, music is better listened to (or played) than read about. The first I bought after reading this was older recordings by Muddy Waters. I should have done that a long time ago, but Wald got me to scratch the itch.

Like I said, a good “very short introduction.” Once you’ve read this, you can go on, if you want, to fuller general histories, like Robert Palmer’s classic Deep Blues, or down more focused paths, including Wald’s own book on Robert Johnson, or many other sources in the “Further reading” list. I think Wald is a good guide, and, if you’re like me, you need one.
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fitzalling
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love''s rollercoaster to a 12 bar beat
Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2020
I''ve read a number of Oxford''s Very Short Introduction books and enjoyed most of them. The Blues falls into the enjoyable category. The small book starts out by trying to define the blues and success proves elusive. Love gone wrong sometimes is love gone right. !2 bar blues... See more
I''ve read a number of Oxford''s Very Short Introduction books and enjoyed most of them. The Blues falls into the enjoyable category. The small book starts out by trying to define the blues and success proves elusive. Love gone wrong sometimes is love gone right. !2 bar blues sometimes becomes 8 bar blues or other variations. Is it the marketing - many times yes. Is it Delta blues or Chicago blues or Texas blues- once again, the answer is yes.

The book takes you on a trip from the early 20th century in the African American culture of the deep South to Chicago, New York, LA and the world as the 20th century winds on. The author will introduce you to the early stars of the blues - many of them women.

Race relations impacts the blues, technology (electric guitars and records) impacts the blues, the migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West impacts the blues (there once was a strong connection between New Orleans blues and Los Angeles blues because one could take a single train from NO to LA), and other music styles were impacted by and impacted the blues (Jazz, rock and roll, and, surprisingly, country). The book examines all of these influences.

The effect of records, recording companies, audience response on the blues are outlined and analyzed by the book''s author. The pursuit of money by recording companies and artists shaped the blues. How? Read the book.

As a young boy, I can still remember the first time I heard a radio play Elvis Presley''s "You Ain''t Nothing But a Hound Dog." I was mesmerized. I now know that I was listening to the white man''s blues. The book is a short, and well written, the author is highly knowledgeable, and if the topic interests you, I highly recommend the book.
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Marc Hyman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Authoritative blues history in a small package
Reviewed in the United States on October 21, 2016
The author does an outstanding job, within the 125-page limit prescribed for Oxford University Press''s "Very Short Introduction" series, of presenting a thorough overview of American blues. His history stretches from West African call-and-response traditions up to... See more
The author does an outstanding job, within the 125-page limit prescribed for Oxford University Press''s "Very Short Introduction" series, of presenting a thorough overview of American blues. His history stretches from West African call-and-response traditions up to the present day. Along the way he gives concise but clear and illuminating coverage to:

- The 1920s "blues queens" (notably Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters)
- 1920s-1930s country blues (with separate sections devoted to each of the three major regional styles: Texas (Blind Lemon Jefferson), Piedmont (Blind Willie McTell, Blind Blake), and Mississippi Delta (Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson))
- Prewar "urban blues" (a mostly piano-based style associated with juke joints and the emergence of boogie-woogie; Leroy Carr, Roosevelt Sykes, Peetie Wheatstraw)
- 1940s jump blues (Louis Jordan); "West Coast" blues (T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole); and rhythm & blues (Big Jay McNeely, Ike Turner, Little Milton)
- 1950s Chicago-style electric blues (Muddy Waters, Howlin'' Wolf, Elmore James)
- 1950s rock''n''roll (Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley)
- The 1960s folk-blues revival (Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis), and
- 1960s blues rock (The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix)

And that''s only the first half of the book. In the second half, the author devotes one chapter to the relationship between blues and jazz; one chapter to the influence of blues on country music; and a final chapter to the language and poetry of the blues.

The author''s deep knowledge of and passion for the subject come across throughout the book. I can''t imagine a better-constructed brief overview of blues music. And as icing on the cake, the book contains both a useful guide to further reading and a thorough index.
7 people found this helpful
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Matthew
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent, but elementary and quite short
Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2021
This book is a great book, especially considering the very limited space Wald was given to explore his subject. However, I didn''t realize exactly HOW limited that space was until I got the book. Not only is it just ~120 pages, those pages are roughly the size of my hand.... See more
This book is a great book, especially considering the very limited space Wald was given to explore his subject. However, I didn''t realize exactly HOW limited that space was until I got the book. Not only is it just ~120 pages, those pages are roughly the size of my hand. With that in mind, I''d recommend this book as a "must have" only for total beginners; for anyone with a solid knowledge of blues already, I''d recommend instead Wald''s Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, which includes practically everything included in this tiny volume and much more. The book is still worth getting for the chapters on blues & jazz, blues & country, and blues poetry, but I wouldn''t rush to get it.
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Laurence Goldstein
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2016
This was a shockingly good overview, clear and concise. Highly recommended.
One person found this helpful
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Scott P
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2016
Short, concise, and thoroughly enjoyable...
One person found this helpful
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Russell M. Cluff
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2016
Excellent book.
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Teacher Dave
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Blues viewa you can use!
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2018
A fine introduction to the genre and artists of the blues. Insightful and interesting!
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Top reviews from other countries

jfpessoa
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An excellent book, and certainly an ideal place to start
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2019
I have loved the blues ever since I discovered them when I was a kid in the Fifties - reissues of Bessie Smith''s recordings were among the very first LPs I bought. Since then I have read many books on the blues music and the singers, and even now I have fifteen on my...See more
I have loved the blues ever since I discovered them when I was a kid in the Fifties - reissues of Bessie Smith''s recordings were among the very first LPs I bought. Since then I have read many books on the blues music and the singers, and even now I have fifteen on my bookshelves. Wald''s "introduction" is really more than that, it is a re-exploration of the whole genre and he does a superb job. It is a fascinating and entertaining read.
One person found this helpful
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Mr. R. McLoughlin
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very readable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 6, 2018
This little book is very readable (I read it over 2 days) and the author packs a lot of information in its pages; despite pages 21 and 22 coming adrift as soon they were turned, this book is recommended.
One person found this helpful
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Elisabete Mano
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
... to my husband and he said it was a good and interesting one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 22, 2017
Was a birthday gift to my husband and he said it was a good and interesting one... as he is addicted to the blues I trust it must be really good!
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 11, 2016
A very good price
One person found this helpful
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Graham R. Hill
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 17, 2012
This covers both the history of the blues and its relationship with other American musical forms and indeed wider popular culture. In each case it references the key figures and explains their significance and has a reasonable stab at the thankless task of describing music...See more
This covers both the history of the blues and its relationship with other American musical forms and indeed wider popular culture. In each case it references the key figures and explains their significance and has a reasonable stab at the thankless task of describing music in words. Blues scholarship is drawn on and its strengths and weaknesses highlighted leaving the reader to choose whether further reading is for them. The devil and the crossroads do get a mention, but not until nearly half way through.
4 people found this helpful
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The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale

The Blues: new arrival A Very popular Short Introduction online sale