Only Nick Tosches, best-selling author of Dino and The Devil and Sonny Liston, could have woven this irresistible tale: part mystery, part biography, part meditation on the meaning and power of music. A forgotten singer from the early days of jazz is at the centre of this riveting narrative. For twenty years, Nick Tosches searched for facts about the life of Emmett Miller, a yodelling blackface performer whose songs prefigured jazz, country, blues and much of the popular music of the twentieth century. Beginning with a handful of 78-rpm records and ending at a tombstone in a Macon, Georgia, graveyard, Tosches pieces together a life - and illuminates the spirit of music makers from Cab Calloway to Bob Dylan, from Homer to the Rolling Stones. This is a brilliant, inspired journey by one of the most original writers at work today.
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Nick Tosches's new book is aptly titled. On the surface a biography of obscure Southern minstrel singer and blackface comedian Emmett Miller (1900-62), his passionate text at its core is another installment in Tosches's lifelong inquiry into the nature of American popular music. It's a place, in his view, "where dead voices gather" as artists chaotically and indiscriminately pluck tunes out of sources ranging from English ballads to slave spirituals and fashion lyrics from half-remembered commercial releases heard once on the radio or archetypal stories told so often that no one knows who first gave them voice. Miller was a "yodeling blues singer" who performed in blackface, adhering to the minstrelsy tradition that was in its death throes by the time he had his brief moment of fame in the 1920s. Tosches, who first heard a Miller recording in 1974, characterizes him as "one of the strangest and most stunning stylists ever to record ... the last mutant mongrel emanation of old and dead and dying styles, the first mutant mongrel emanation of a style far more reckless and free than the cool of scat." As this sentence suggests, Tosches's prose has calmed down hardly at all since his first book, Country, was published in 1977; you either love his freeform approach or it drives you nuts. Admirers will relish his marvelously dense and detailed portrait of pop music's crazy-quilt complexity, enriched by Tosches's encyclopedic knowledge of American culture. And he boldly stares the race question in the face, though not everyone will be convinced by his assertion that "it is the shared umbilicus of fantasy that sustains and unites ... the polar temperaments of minstrelsy and rap." This is another genre-smashing work from a writer as eccentric, provoking, and wholly original as the music he loves. --Wendy SmithAbout the Author :
Nick Tosches's books include The Devil and Sonny Liston, Dino, and the novels Cut Numbers and Trinities. He is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and lives in New York City.
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Description du livre Jonathan Cape Ltd, 2002. Paperback. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX0224063154
Description du livre Jonathan Cape Ltd, 2002. Paperback. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire M0224063154