Exploring interwoven threads of personality, coincidence, progress, and taste--all essentially unrelated to music--a veteran journalist explains how popular culture and business intersected in Memphis to set the stage for rock and roll well before Elvis arrived.
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Perhaps no other city in America has provided more grist for the music sociology mill than Memphis, Tennessee. While Memphis has been the muse for some truly classic books (Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music, to name just one), the rhetoric surrounding "The Birthplace of Rock & Roll"--also "The Home of the Blues"--can be as daunting as a walk down the ravenously gentrified blues theme park that is Beale Street.
Enter Robert Gordon, a Memphis native and keen chronicler of the city's secret history. Gordon's It Came from Memphis all but ignores the Bluff City's oft-cited musical hierarchy--B.B. King, Elvis, Al Green et al.--in favor of its great unheralded eccentrics. You might not be familiar with the Insect Trust or Mudboy and the Neutrons, but Gordon argues--with empathy and wit--that you should be.
But music is only part of the story here. Whether it's Memphis's wrestling legend Sputnik Monroe, or the city's esoteric patron saint, artist-professor John McIntire, Gordon's shrewd eye sees the mojo in them all. In a way, Gordon's book is even more vital than the classic volumes on Memphis music that predate it. Where Guralnick interprets a musical tradition that is already firmly embedded in the American psyche, Gordon gives voice to a clandestine tradition that otherwise might go forgotten. --Matt HanksAbout the Author:
Robert Gordon has written for major music magazines in the US and England, and has contributed to several books. Robert is the author of It Came From Memphis, a book about Memphis music and culture published in 1995 (Faber & Faber, USA; Secker and Warburg, UK). He also produced the book's companion CD of related musics (Upstart/Rounder Records). His book about Elvis on tour, The King on the Road, was written with the cooperation of Elvis's estate and published August 1996 by St. Martin's (Hamlyn in the UK; Vade Retro in France). As a filmmaker, Robert directed the award-winning blues documentary All Day and All Night, featuring B. B. King and Rufus Thomas; that film aired nationally on PBS and was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. His music video work has appeared on MTV, BET, and CMT. Also, he produced the Al Green CD box set, Anthology, for which his liner notes were Grammy nominated in 1998. His biography of Muddy Waters will be published by Little, Brown, in 2000. Robert is an indirect descendant of Jesse James.
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Book Description Secker & Warburg, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0436201453