Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters

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Muddy Waters’s wailing slide guitar, stuttering rhythm and boisterous, sex-drenched lyrics (see “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I Got My Mojo Working”) inspired a generation of bluesmen and rock-and-rollers including a modish band of Brits who copped their name from his classic tune “Rollin’ Stone.” In this engaging biography, Gordon (“It Came from Memphis”) mines some new territory, but the real punch comes from his telling, which reads as if he were on the front porch with friends, passing a half-pint of whiskey. Describing Waters’s (n‚ McKinley Morganfield) birthplace in Issaquena, Miss., he writes that it was “where farmhands partied on weekends because they’d survived another week, because the land didn’t swallow them, the river didn’t drink them, the boss man didn’t kill them….” In the early 1940s, Muddy fled to Chicago, cut several big hits for the budding Chess record label and became an international star. The author points out, however, that Muddy never left behind an ingrained obedience from his sharecropper days. Over the years, he would allow his bosses to tamper with his style often with embarrassing results and with his fair take of the profits. And as Gordon notes, success never did satisfy his other main passion. “He went through several wives, and always had women on the side, and women on the other side too.” After all, Muddy wasn’t just talkin’ blues he was the blues.  — Publisher’s Weekly

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