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The Language of the Blues
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Find out what the words in your favorite blues songs really mean! In The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu (Foreword by Dr. John), rock musician Debra Devi defines 170 blues terms like mojo, hoodoo, buffet flat and killing floor with wild stories and fresh insights from her interviews with such blues stars as Hubert Sumlin, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Henry Gray, Little Milton Campbell, Bob Margolin, Jody Williams, Robben Ford, Jimmie Vaughan, and more. Devi combines her interviews with in-depth research into etymology, African language, voodoo and the origins of blues, rock and jazz. The result is a lively read Reuters calls "a witty, bawdy and fascinating dictionary." The Language of the Blues has received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Outstanding Book on MusicThe Language of the Blues includes more than 30 photos (17 color) and a remarkable foreword by Dr. John, who helped Devi uncover the illegal gambling origins of terms like "gig" and "axe." The Language of the Blues has earned back-cover praise from Bonnie Raitt, Joe Bonamassa, former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin, producer Hal Willner, and even Ministry singer Al Jourgensen! "What a great resource, as fascinating as it is informative. Debra Devi's passion for the blues shines through," says Bonnie Raitt. Joe Bonamassa adds, "Devi's book will teach you what you really need to know about blues history and where the blues are coming from." Al Jourgensen notes: "Finally one can understand the mechanics behind the overwhelming viscera of the Blues. Debra Devi's work is a true guide book to the soul."Blues Revue deems The Language of the Blues "an essential purchase for scholars and fans" and New York Times columnist Shelton Ivany says, "If you have any questions about blues songs, lyrics, musicians or events, chances are you will find your answers in this unparalleled publication.""Don't think that The Language of the Blues might read like a dictionary or reference book," explains former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin. "There's no plot, but you can open it at random and fall into the world of your favorite blues songs, finding out more about the lyrics than you would by guessing from context. I learned a lot more about the blues music I love."Devi is an American Blues Scene contributing editor and former Blues Revue associate editor. She is also an accomplished rock singer and guitarist. Visit her at www.debradevi.comBackcover Blurbs for The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu by Debra Devi"What a great resource, as fascinating as it is informative. Debra Devi's passion for the blues shines through." - Bonnie Raitt."Devi's book will teach you what you really need to know about blues history and where the blues are coming from." - Joe Bonamassa"This book is fascinating! Take it to the bathroom and don't come out until you're done reading it." - Jimmy Vivino"This is a beautiful book. After hearing 'Hellhound on My Trail' in high school I bought every vintage blues record available at the time. Upon receiving The Language of the Blues I discovered my knowledge only scratched the surface. Debra Devi has written an invaluable reference book. And it's also great fun to read." - Hal Willner"Congratulations to Debra Devi for The Language of the Blues. Its candor and witty honesty bring us into the world she describes so well with beautiful strength. This is a book that lovers of music and just plain old lovers will love to have in their collections." - Ed Sanders
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"An unparalleled publication. If you have any questions about songs, lyrics, musicians or events, chances are that you will find your answers in The Language of the Blues." - Sheldon Ivany, The New York Times "Invaluable" - Nat Hentoff, The Wall Street Journal "An important addition to the study of blues...an essential purchase for scholars and fans." - Blues Revue "At first glance one would believe this to be a dictionary of blues lyrics, but it reaches beyond that. More like an encyclopedia of blues slang, it delves beyond the simple explanation of lyrics and offers the reader in-depth definitions and anecdotes on the origins and usage of many of the terms we are familiar with in blues music and our lives today." - Elmore "The Language of the Blues is not a dour dictionary. Rather it is a vibrant work of social commentary that you may well find yourself reading through in one sitting." - The Frustrated Writer "The music called the blues can express emotions with unmistakable clarity, but some of the words, whether sung by 1930s Mississippi Delta sharecroppers or big-city electric-guitar heroes, can be pretty obscure. Hunting down the origins and meanings of those words was the mission of New Jersey rock musician and journalist Debra Devi. The result, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu, is a witty, bawdy and fascinating dictionary. Amply footnoted, "The Language of the Blues" draws on many scholarly and not-so-scholarly sources including interviews with musicians, among them Dr. John (Mac Rebennack, who also contributed the foreword), B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Lockwood Jr. All the entries, from "alcorub" to "zuzu," cite musicians and songs that used the words. The book also includes many photographs of blues musicians past and present. --Reuters "Folks are always trying to demystify the Blues and the words used in the songs and conversations. Well with The Language Of The Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu by Debra Devi, we have actually found one that makes sense and can be actually used for reference or just pure enjoyment. Blues lyrics are often mysterious and unapproachable to the fair weather fan and more so to the general public. The music is comprised of words/lyrics from another culture, from the inner city side streets and rural jook joints where the music took root. So often the language of these songs are misinterpreted or sanitized into something less that real. Real is what makes the Blues so alluring and forceful. While not an incunabulum of out-dated, seldom used terms it is a book that can serve as a reference and jolly point of learning more in the form of a slightly bawdy, racy yet witty dictionaries around. We all know that when Bobby Blue Bland sang that the eagle flies on Friday he is referencing the money one gets on pay day (usually Friday), yet do we know that when one dusts his broom that it could mean several things? It could be as simple as just leaving, or does it involve more complex processes as cleansing the house of evil spirits by dusting the broom with powder to force them out? This is just one of the many things that we find inside the book that I devoured with a smile plastered on my face. Ms. Devi has scrupulously researched the subject matter and created a comprehensive accompaniment to the culture of the Blues which includes excerpts from interviews with such luminaries as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and many others. With a line up like we would be first in line to see the show, so using that logic why would we not avail ourselves of this compendium of Blues lexicon. A must for every Blues, Music, language fan out there, so you have to fit into one of these categories so get on it now! --Blues 411 -An unparalleled publication. If you have any questions about songs, lyrics, musicians or events, chances are that you will find your answers in The Language of the Blues.- - Sheldon Ivany, The New York Times -Invaluable- - Nat Hentoff, The Wall Street Journal -An important addition to the study of blues...an essential purchase for scholars and fans.- - Blues Revue -At first glance one would believe this to be a dictionary of blues lyrics, but it reaches beyond that. More like an encyclopedia of blues slang, it delves beyond the simple explanation of lyrics and offers the reader in-depth definitions and anecdotes on the origins and usage of many of the terms we are familiar with in blues music and our lives today.- - Elmore -The Language of the Blues is not a dour dictionary. Rather it is a vibrant work of social commentary that you may well find yourself reading through in one sitting.- - The Frustrated Writer -The music called the blues can express emotions with unmistakable clarity, but some of the words, whether sung by 1930s Mississippi Delta sharecroppers or big-city electric-guitar heroes, can be pretty obscure. Hunting down the origins and meanings of those words was the mission of New Jersey rock musician and journalist Debra Devi. The result, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu, is a witty, bawdy and fascinating dictionary. Amply footnoted, -The Language of the Blues- draws on many scholarly and not-so-scholarly sources including interviews with musicians, among them Dr. John (Mac Rebennack, who also contributed the foreword), B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Lockwood Jr. All the entries, from -alcorub- to -zuzu,- cite musicians and songs that used the words. The book also includes many photographs of blues musicians past and present. --Reuters -Folks are always trying to demystify the Blues and the words used in the songs and conversations. Well with The Language Of The Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu by Debra Devi, we have actually found one that makes sense and can be actually used for reference or just pure enjoyment. Blues lyrics are often mysterious and unapproachable to the fair weather fan and more so to the general public. The music is comprised of words/lyrics from another culture, from the inner city side streets and rural jook joints where the music took root. So often the language of these songs are misinterpreted or sanitized into something less that real. Real is what makes the Blues so alluring and forceful. While not an incunabulum of out-dated, seldom used terms it is a book that can serve as a reference and jolly point of learning more in the form of a slightly bawdy, racy yet witty dictionaries around. We all know that when Bobby Blue Bland sang that the eagle flies on Friday he is referencing the money one gets on pay day (usually Friday), yet do we know that when one dusts his broom that it could mean several things? It could be as simple as just leaving, or does it involve more complex processes as cleansing the house of evil spirits by dusting the broom with powder to force them out? This is just one of the many things that we find inside the book that I devoured with a smile plastered on my face. Ms. Devi has scrupulously researched the subject matter and created a comprehensive accompaniment to the culture of the Blues which includes excerpts from interviews with such luminaries as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and many others. With a line up like we would be first in line to see the show, so using that logic why would we not avail ourselves of this compendium of Blues lexicon. A must for every Blues, Music, language fan out there, so you have to fit into one of these categories so get on it now! --Blues 411

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