I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

by Stephen Calt
I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

by Stephen Calt


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Skip James (1902–1969) was perhaps the most creative and idiosyncratic of all blues musicians. Drawing on hundreds of hours of conversations with James himself, Stephen Calt here paints a dark and unforgettable portrait of a man untroubled by his own murderous inclinations, a man who achieved one moment of transcendent greatness in a life haunted by failure. And in doing so, Calt offers new insights into the nature of the blues, the world in which it thrived, and its fate when that world vanished.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556527463
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

Stephen Calt is the author of King of the Delta Blues: The Life and Music of Charlie Patton and the coauthor of R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country. He died in October 2010.

Table of Contents

Part 1
The Blues Singer     3
The Researcher     7
The Quarry     15
Looking Back     17
Part 2
Woodbine     23
The Birth Of The Blues     34
The Buck Rabbit     47
The Young Sport     56
Part 3
The Bootlegger     75
The Musician     87
The Performer     97
The Devil Woman     107
The Songwriter     111
The Murderous Music Cat     122
Part 4
Recording     133
Greatness At Grafton     138
Releasin's     158
The Convert     165
Devil Got Religion     168
The Prodigal Son     184
Limbo     191
Resumption     206
Recognition     214
The Delta     224
Part 5
The Prospectors     239
The Folk Movement     252
The Fan     260
Newport     267
Washington     274
The Sick Man     281
Air Puddings     286
Part 6
The Age of Aquarius     313
The Impostor     332
The Barrel OfCrabs     338
Scorpions     344
The Funeral     347
The Burying Ground     352
The Man Nobody Knew     355
Afterword     365
Transcription: Devil Got My Woman     367
Idioms     369
Subject Index     377
Song Index     383

What People are Saying About This

R. Crumb

This is the real thing. I drink up every word. This and Calt's life of Charlie Patton are the best books ever written on the subject of old-time blues. (R. Crumb, author, R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country)

Lawrence Cohn

An extraordinary work devoted to blues, and more specifically, to one of the true enigmas of country blues. (Lawrence Cohn, editor, Nothing But the Blues)

Alan Greenberg

Intimate, learned, trenchant, chilling, and true . . . This work surpasses its task with comprehensive research and insight suggestive of far, uncharted travels. (Alan Greenberg, author, Love in Vain)

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