3820Re: New book: In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton
- Feb 14 5:32 AMThanks, 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 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 1938 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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