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Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues [With CD (Audio) and DVD] Hardcover – Nov 1 2009


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Captures the cadences of [the musicians'] spoken voices and the stories of their lives, and the DVD and CD that accompany the book allow us to hear their music. . . . If the unhealed wound of injustice is everywhere present in these stories, many of the people telling them, like Ferris himself, have refused to see their lives reduced to race and stubbornly resist despair.--"Harper's Magazine"

About the Author

WILLIAM FERRIS is Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris coedited the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and is the author of Blues from the Delta. Rolling Stone magazine has named him among the top ten professors in the United States.

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Amazon.com: 10 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great Book Dec 3 2009
By Dr Tom Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kudos to William Ferris for this book. It is clearly a labor of love for him. I was drawn to this work after hearing Ferris in an 10 minute long NPR piece on "All Things Considered" (see/hear at [...]). As a young student Ferris visited backwoods towns along US61 from Memphis south to the LA border. He documents the unknown blues singers he met along the way. And he tells about his long-standing friendship with the legendary BB King fantastic stories! The book is accompanied with a CD of collected music and a DVD documenting his finds.

If you are a fan of Blues performed by the black inventors of the art form, then read/hear the NPR clip and I predict you will find this book to be a "must have"!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A book that sings. Nov. 21 2009
By Woodshed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Muddy Waters: Live on TourThe Howlin' Wolf Story - The Secret History of Rock & RollThe Essential Albert King: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Styles and Techniques of a Blues and Soul LegendThe Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood MacThe Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double TroubleJimi Hendrix: BluesThe Complete RecordingsFounder of the Delta BluesThe Original Delta BluesBlind Willie Johnson and the Guitar EvangelistsBlowin' the BluesAlligator Records 20th Anniversary CollectionThe book is a real treasure, if you're a hard core blues fan or just plain want to catch an intimate view of one of America's most important musical creations. It is written by a true scholar of this genre that was the foundation of both jazz and rock and roll. This is not just another large magazine but rather a spot on look at the fore runners of all that is today's music here and certainly in the UK. All of the super bands like the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and so many others mined the simple 9 part scale and created an industry. Mr. Ferris is first a foremost a folklorist with many books under his southern belt. He edited "The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" an enormous undertaking and a must have. It comes as little surprise that president Clinton appointed him as National Chairman for the Endowment of the Humanities. I'm from Chicago where the Mississippi delta blues transformed in to electric Blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Buddy Guy. This latest book somehow captures the delta where Mr. Ferris is from.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
ESSENTIAL! May 16 2010
By paul vernon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Ferris's book is a summary of 40 years of his field research, offering elegantly written portraits of the people and places he spent so much time amongst in the 1960's and beyond. His patch was, essentially, Mississippi and his self-defined brief was to capture the fast-dissapearing history of traditional blues and gospel by any means at his disposal. This included interviews, photos, taped performances and sound films. Unusual for the time, and now, four decades later, the five films are of especially great value. Moreover, they are all included here in DVD format, accompanied by a selection of field recordings on a CD, both packaged into the back of the book. So essentialy you have a multi-media product to absorb; words, photographic images, sound recordings and films, including the one which, in my view, is the best single documentary about what the blues actually means. At 21 minutes, his 1975 color film "Give My Poor Heart Ease" is the ideal introduction to the real purpose and underlying meaning of the Blues as catharsis for its original community, rather than mass entertainment. Ther are no California Rayban-wearing harp players here, just honest folk playing honest music because they have to. Whatever your level of interest in the blues is, Ferris's new volume is one to get and absorb.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
for blues hounds everywhere Jan. 17 2010
By Mme Linda Watten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an essential book for blues lovers. It traces the birth of Mississippi Delta blues, arguably the birthplace of American blues. There is an extended section on the influence of prisoners who were in Parchman Farm prison, made immortal by a song by Mose Allison years later. I highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Must for Serious Blues Lovers Sept. 15 2010
By J. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Ferris, the former director of NEH and a professor of History at the University of North Carolina,is a highly respected scholar in the field of Oral History. This book belongs on the shelf of every serious student of Folklore and ethnomusicology or anyone who likes music, especially the Blues. So well written and easy to read, the words slide off the pages and take you back to a time when great Blues singers were as common as Cottonmouths in the Mississippi Delta. Dr. Ferris shares his life and the lives of the seminal Blues musicians with his readers. This book is oral history the way it should be written. Ferris spent many years of his life recording the interviews in this book with the all-time great Blues musicians, like B.B. King. From cover to cover it reads like fiction, but every inch of it is true. We all know that a storyteller like a good Blues singer never lies or "spins a yarn"! The CD and DVD that accompany the book are extra icing on the cake. I hear that if you get the IPAD version the print magically turns into video at critical junctures in the stories. The long list of Bill Ferris's accomplishments reads like a who's who of Delta scholarship. If you want to understand the Blues from Mississippi to Chicago to the present day, this is the book to read. Early in the first chapter the author fades into the shadows and allows the musicians to tell their own unique stories. The key word in the title is "Voices". The author's skill as oral historian is to allow the voices of so many truly exceptional musicians to shout and holler, weep and moan, blending into one powerful tradition that has entertained this nation as long a people have eeked out a living as slaves, tenant farmers and laborers in the great delta of the Mississippi River that Bill Ferris is proud to call his home. Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues


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