Cover image for Josh White : society blues
Josh White : society blues
Wald, Elijah.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xvii, 336 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.W48 W35 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A gifted and charismatic entertainer, Josh White (1914-1969) was one of the best-known folk-blues artists of his day. In the early 1960s, one survey ranked him as America's third most popular male folksinger, surpassed only by Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. He appeared on national television, performed at numerous college concerts and club dates, and released several dozen albums - all featuring his distinctive guitar style, supple voice and unique showmanship.

Author Notes

Elijah Wald is the author of Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas, and coauthor of Mississippi: River of Song. He is currently finishing a book on Robert Johnson and the blues. He is also a performing musician

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Author/musician Wald presents a sympathetic yet balanced biography of pop-blues-folk star Josh White (1914-69). The rise to fame of the Piedmont blues stylist is clearly charted, starting with his childhood in the segregated South, where as a preteen he landed a job leading blind bluesmen from town to town, through his work with folk archivist Alan Lomax and legendary producer John Hammond, who marketed White's smooth, socially conscious blues to a crossover audience that included Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, to his career tailspin during the Red Scare. By interviewing dozens of White's family members and friends and combing through secondary accounts, Wald uncovers a complex subjectÄa poor Southern bluesman who relied upon a smooth style and sex appeal for success, an ardent Civil Rights advocate who at the hint of trouble abandoned the Left to save his career, and a devoted family man who had multiple affairs. Dorothy S. Siegel's The Glory Road: The Story of Josh White (1982) is out of print, making Wald's the only available portrait of an intriguing American artist. Fortunately, it is complete, well written, and in-depth. Highly recommended.ÄDave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Southern Exposure (1914-1921)p. 1
2 Homeless and Hungry Blues (1921-1930)p. 11
3 Things About Coming My Way (1930-1936)p. 26
4 John Henry (1936-1939)p. 46
5 Raise a Ruckus (1940)p. 56
6 Marching down Freedom's Road (1941)p. 72
7 Partnerships: Leadbelly and Libby Holman (1941-1943)p. 90
8 Cafe Society (1943-1945)p. 101
9 The House I Live Inp. 125
10 Apples, Peaches, and Cherries (1946-1947)p. 137
11 Travels, Whiskey, and Womenp. 154
12 Broadway, Hollywood, and Beyond (1947-1950)p. 162
13 Un-American Activities (1950)p. 177
14 Strange Fruitp. 196
15 Across the Atlantic (1951)p. 210
16 You Know Baby (1952-1953)p. 228
17 Josh at Midnight (1954-1958)p. 239
18 Folk Revivalp. 258
19 House of the Rising Sun (1958-1963)p. 273
20 Goin' Down Slow (1963-1969)p. 283
Epiloguep. 296
Notesp. 301
Bibliographyp. 325
Indexp. 329