"He was one of the most celebrated blues artists of his era, a visionary Chicago singer-songwriter who mentored Muddy Waters, introduced the music to Europe and inspired no less than Eric Clapton, Ray Davies and Pete Townshend (as they've all acknowledged).
But Big Bill Broonzy has been virtually forgotten by the popular culture he helped shape. . . . Which is why an important new book, I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy, comes not a moment too soon. In its pages, author Bob Riesman pieces together fragments of a hitherto under-documented life, giving Broonzy's achievements the honor they deserve."
(Howard Reich Chicago Tribune
“Riesman does an excellent job of sifting through conflicting accounts of Broonzy’s marital and workforce history, often presenting multiple sides of the tales. He used a bewildering array of sources to help draw his conclusions, going through numerous archives, museums and music societies, as well as talking to those who were there for another point of view. . . . This book perceptively tells it all.”
"Wonderful. . . . With skill and sensitivity, Riesman has traced [Big Bill Broonzy's] scattered families and friends, and the letters, photographs and tapes they preserved, to fashion an intricately stitched patchwork of a life, and one of the great blues biographies."
“Compelling. . . . An important contribution to the literature of the blues as well as Chicago musical history.”
(Booklist (starred review)
“This book sets Bill’s extraordinary life and career in meticulously researched perspective. . . . If rock ‘n’ roll and all its recent spawn can in any sense be regarded as art, or carries any social meaning, or transmits reflective or historical relevance to those who love it, this book will help to explain why.”
“Bob Riesman has dug hard and deep into a world and a community to which few outsiders have been granted entrance. . . . This is the kind of book so engaging it simply leaves you wanting more.”
(Peter Guralnick, from the Foreword)
“Big Bill Broonzy was one of the most influential African American blues artists in the 1930s and 1940s and the leading figure in the spread of blues to Europe in the 1950s. Up to now, much of his life has been shrouded in mystery and fable, largely created by Broonzy himself. Bob Riesman’s book lifts the veil and reveals a life that was every bit as interesting as the legend.”
(David Evans, author The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to the Blues 2010-10-29)
“I knew Big Bill Broonzy in the 1940s and ’50s, near the end of his life. He was a great man, and one of the great musical artists of the twentieth century, as well as an intellectual, a term usually given to college people. I think he was genuinely reaching out all his life to different people. If it’s possible to put his story into words, Bob Riesman has done it in this book.”
(Pete Seeger 2011-02-21)
“Interesting and thorough. . . . Riesman has given readers a deeper understanding of Broonzy's astonishing achievements and how his legacy affected the social and musical landscape thereafter.”
(All About Jazz
“After reading this biography, I have ungrudging affection and respect for Big Bill, admiration for his skills and acceptance of his foibles.”
(Boston Blues Society
“I Feel So Good is a worthy tribute to a fine artist.”
“With the fascinating and well-researched story Riesman tells in I Feel So Good, one wonders why the world does not know more about this bluesman.”
About the Author
Bob Riesman is coeditor of Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage. He produced and co-wrote the television documentary American Roots Music: Chicago, and was a contributor to Routledge’s Encyclopedia of the Blues.