Lives of the Poets (with Guitars)

Ray Robertson

Lives of the Poets (with Guitars)

Picking up where Samuel Johnson left off more than two centuries ago, Ray Robertson's Lives of the Poets (with Guitars) offers up an amplified gathering of 13 portraits of rock & roll, blues, folk and alt-country's most inimitable artists. Irreverent and riotous, Robertson explores the "greater or lesser heat" with which each musician shaped their genre, while offering absorbing insight into their often tumultuous lives. (From the publisher)

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Excerpt:

By age twelve Rosetta had left school to work with her mother saving souls full-time, eventually playing not just Chicago churches but the "gospel circuit" of revivals, tent meetings, and out-of-town churches. Aside from the satisfaction of doing the Lord's will and being able to pay one's way in the world being self-employed at something one enjoyed doing, playing noisy revival meetings had aesthetic implications for Rosetta's art as well. All genuine artistic innovation is born out of necessity, not clever ostentation, and the distinctive way Rosetta picked individual notes on her guitar to accent certain lines of lyrics - as opposed to strumming along to all of the words - was initially done only so as to make herself heard over the frenzied attendees (Coincidentally, honky-tonk was born out of the same sort of conundrum. How could a country-and-western band manage to make themselves heard in a tavern full of drunken rowdies? By playing electric guitars and by doing more than strumming.) Eventually, the stinging licks Rosetta coaxed out of her guitar infused her performances with an electric bite not heard in any other gospel performer and became one of her performing trademarks.


From Lives of the Poets (with Guitars) by Ray Robertson ©2016. Published by Biblioasis.