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3820Re: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton

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  • Robert Greenwood
    Feb 14, 2007
      Thanks, Dave. I don't necessarily think that M. Hamilton's book
      displays the profound ignorance of today's experts. There are plenty
      of true experts around. You could perhaps look on the Yahoo Pre-war
      Blues list; plenty of expert and erudite comment on there. Hamilton
      is an example, I would say, of the sort of academic who cobbles a
      book together without doing any first-hand research. It's on the
      blues, an "attractive" subject seen by people like the editor of the
      Observer Music Monthly as a precursor to rock music, so it gets well
      reviewed by journalists as inexpert and uninformed as the author, who
      blithely ignores contrary opinion and expert comment, adds the book
      to her CV, renews her teaching contract, and moves on to write
      further rubbish about some other "cultural studies" topic.
      Here is some more from Caspar Llewellyn Smith's review of her book in
      the Observer:
      "The author spent her teenage years in San Diego and was a fan of
      prototype punks the New York Dolls. She came to the blues through the
      writings of critic Greil Marcus, in whose seminal Mystery Train,
      Robert Johnson was fancifully identified as rock'n'roll's progenitor.
      It took Hamilton 15 years to get around to listening to Johnson's
      recordings - and he only ever did commit 29 songs to vinyl, before
      his death at the probable age of 27 in 1938Â…When the author did
      listen, she confesses: 'I heard very little, just a guitar, a keening
      vocal and a lot of surface noise' and certainly not the tale of
      existential anguish that others identified."
      There's that word "seminal" again. I trust that no-one else out there
      listening to Robert Johnson hears "just a guitar, a keening vocal and
      a lot of surface noise"?
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