The Ballad of Blind Tom
- A review of The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist: America's Lost
Musical Genius by Deirdre O'Connell [Overlook: 272 pp., $24.95]
"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."
- on 2/1/09 3:05 PM, aclark23@... wrote:
> A review of The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist: America's LostBut you can get an idea:
> Musical Genius by Deirdre O'Connell [Overlook: 272 pp., $24.95]
> "We'll never know what Blind Tom really sounded like"
John Davis interview seg begins around 30:00. He recorded an album of Blind