Really The Blues

Really The Blues

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 0806512059

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Really The Blues" is the story of a white kid who fell in love with black culture, learning to blow clarinet in the reform schools, brothels and honky-tonks of his youth. Drawn by the revelation of the blues, he followed the music along the jazz avenues of Chicago, New Orleans, and New York, and into the heart of America's soul. Told in the jive lingo of the underground's inner circle, this classic is an unforgettable chronicle of street life, smoky clubs, roadhouse dances, and reefer culture.

First published in 1946, Really the Blues was a rousing wake-up call to alienated young whites to explore black culture and the world of jazz, the first music America could call its own. Their spiritual godfather was Mezzrow, jazz cat, bootlegger, and peddler of the finest gauge in Harlem. Above all, Mezz championed the abandon available to those willing to lose their blues.

Citadel Underground's edition of Really the Blues features a new introduction by Barry Gifford, author of the novel Wild at Heart and co-author of Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack's Kerouac.

"Really the Blues, read at the counter of the counter of the Columbia U Bookstore in mid-forties, was for me the first signal into white culture of the underground black, hip culture that preexisted before ny own generation". -- Allen Ginsberg

"Milton Mezzrow was, is and shall always be the single most important figure in the history of marijuana in America. Like Leary, the Mezz turned on a new generation to a new drug...Mezzrow was 1) the first white Negro, 2) the Johnny Apleseed of weed, 3) the author of a great American autobiography, Really the Blues, the finest eyewitness account of American counterculture everpublished. The book is, likewise, the master-piece of the counterculture's most characteristics literary medium: the slang-laced, jazz-enrhythmed, long-breathed and rhapsodic street rap and rave-up". -- Albert Goldman

"Really the Blues appeared at a fundamental moment in American history, wh

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walk-up tenement flat and find a tot, hardly able to walk, getting up to do a lively time-step and then break. And from the old folks’ shuffle to the Suzie-Q and Sand, wasn’t none of them steps new to grandpa—just the names were different. Pops could tell you about cutting them same steps when he was a kid barefooted. Everybody danced. Monday mornings, about five A.M., we’d shoot over to the Lenox Club on 144th Street for the weekly breakfast dance. Here we’d always find most of the performers

grindin’ so you can’t come in, If you love me you’ll come back agin, Or come back tomorrow at half-past-ten. That number is a wonderful example of what happened to the blues when they moved out of the gallion, the work-gang and the levee and rode the rods into big towns like New Orleans, Charleston, Memphis and Chi. The Negroes who hit these cities found themselves on the bottom of the pile, on an even level with practically nobody but whores and sporting people, who had less

then. Sure, there weren’t any more fay sax men around with even a touch of the New Orleans style, but that was all right too. There wasn’t going to be much demand for hot sax men from then on. New Orleans was dead and buried by 1932. It was just a legend. Old Tesch’s death just put a period to the death-sentence of hot jazz, and to the whole saga of the Chicagoans, the last group of white musicians in this country who tried to keep even a little bit of the New Orleans spirit alive. In the

finished a fly would slip and break his neck where my hair used to be. I had no trouble looking up my pals. Word buzzed through the grapevine about the new “fish,” and it didn’t take a day before one of the “politicians” (that was what we called the trustees) slipped me a folded piece of toilet paper. It was a note from Murph. “I’m in the band,” he wrote. “Try and make it.” At my interview a few days later I practically convinced the officials that I was the impresario of the Chicago Opera,

of every cat’s mind all the time was this: he had to sharpen his wits every way he could, make himself smarter and keener, better able to handle himself, more hip. The hip language was one kind of verbal horseplay invented to do that. Lots of other games sprang up for the same reason: snagging, rhyming, the dirty dozens, cutting contests. On The Corner the idea of a kind of mutual needling held sway, each guy spurring the other guy on to think faster and be more nimble-witted. Through all these

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