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The Ballad of Blind Tom

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  • Telstar
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2009
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      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."

      http://tinyurl.com/bwjt45

      Al
    • Irwin Chusid
      ... But you can get an idea: http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/1042 John Davis interview seg begins around 30:00. He recorded an album of Blind Tom compositions:
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 1, 2009
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        on 2/1/09 3:05 PM, aclark23@... wrote:

        > A review of The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist: America's Lost
        > Musical Genius by Deirdre O'Connell [Overlook: 272 pp., $24.95]
        >
        > http://tinyurl.com/bwjt45
        > ....
        > "We'll never know what Blind Tom really sounded like"


        But you can get an idea:

        http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/1042

        John Davis interview seg begins around 30:00. He recorded an album of Blind
        Tom compositions:

        http://www.amazon.com/John-Davis-Plays-Blind-Tom/dp/B00003OPAP

        Fascinating story.









        .
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