Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis

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University of Chicago Press, 10 apr 2015 - 344 pagine
Who was the greatest of all American guitarists? You probably didn’t name Gary Davis, but many of his musical contemporaries considered him without peer. Bob Dylan called Davis “one of the wizards of modern music.” Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead—who took lessons with Davis—claimed his musical ability “transcended any common notion of a bluesman.” And the folklorist Alan Lomax called him “one of the really great geniuses of American instrumental music.” But you won’t find Davis alongside blues legends Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite almost universal renown among his contemporaries, Davis lives today not so much in his own work but through covers of his songs by Dylan, Jackson Browne, and many others, as well as in the untold number of students whose lives he influenced.

The first biography of Davis, Say No to the Devil restores “the Rev’s” remarkable story. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with many of Davis’s former students, Ian Zack takes readers through Davis’s difficult beginning as the blind son of sharecroppers in the Jim Crow South to his decision to become an ordained Baptist minister and his move to New York in the early 1940s, where he scraped out a living singing and preaching on street corners and in storefront churches in Harlem. There, he gained entry into a circle of musicians that included, among many others, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, and Dave Van Ronk. But in spite of his tremendous musical achievements, Davis never gained broad recognition from an American public that wasn’t sure what to make of his trademark blend of gospel, ragtime, street preaching, and the blues. His personal life was also fraught, troubled by struggles with alcohol, women, and deteriorating health.

Zack chronicles this remarkable figure in American music, helping us to understand how he taught and influenced a generation of musicians.
 

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LibraryThing Review

Recensione dell'utente  - Romis78 - LibraryThing

This is an exceptionally well written and researched biography of Gary Davis. It's been a long wait for a comprehensive study, but well worth it.. Production quality of the book is excellent, with my ... Leggi recensione completa

Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis

Recensione dell'utente  - Book Verdict

Journalist Zack (New York Times; Forbes; Acoustic Guitar) presents a detailed but readable account of the extraordinary life of Gary Davis, the blind son of poor sharecroppers in South Carolina. He ... Leggi recensione completa

Sommario

You Got To Move
1
1 There Was A Time That I Was Blind 18961916
6
2 StreetCorner Bard 191728
24
3 I Was A Blues Cat 192834
34
4 Great Change In Me 193443
43
5 Meet You At The Station 194349
64
6 Who Shall Deliver Poor Me? 195055
81
7 Ill Be Alright Someday 195557
96
12 Lord Stand By Me 196263
159
13 On The Road and Over The Ocean 1964
178
Bring Your Money Honey
197
15 Buck Dance 196566
204
16 Where You Goin Old Drunkard?
223
17 Theres A Bright Side Somewhere 196770
231
18 Tired My Soul Needs Resting 197172
244
When I Die Ill Live Again
262

8 I Cant Make This Journey By Myself 195859
105
9 He Knows How Much We Can Bear 196061
119
The Reverend In The Pulpit
132
11 Children Go Where I Send Thee 196162
138
Selected Discography
269
Notes
271
Index
309
Copyright

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Informazioni sull'autore (2015)

Ian Zack is a New York–based journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, and Acoustic Guitar. He worked as a concert booker for one of the oldest folk venues in New York, the Good Coffeehouse, where he got to know some of Davis’s students.

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