Cover image for Can't be satisfied : the life and times of Muddy Waters
Can't be satisfied : the life and times of Muddy Waters
Gordon, Robert, 1961-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [2002]

Physical Description:
xx, 408 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, music, portraits ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.M748 G67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.M748 G67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.M748 G67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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Muddy Waters invented electric blues and created the template for the rock and roll band and its wild lifestyle. Gordon excavates Muddy's mysterious past and early career, taking us from Mississippi fields to postwar Chicago street corners.

Author Notes

Robert Gordon has written for major publications in the U.S. and England, and has contributed to several books. He produced the Al green CD box set, "Anthology", for which his liner notes were Grammy nominated. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning blues documentary "All Day and All Night", and his music video work has appeared on MTV, BET, and CMT. He is the author of a forthcoming biography of Muddy Waters, and director of the companion documentary. He lives in Memphis with his wife and two daughters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gordon's biography of Muddy Waters starts on Stovall's farm, where a barefoot McKinley Morganfield--Muddy's birth name--heard that "a white man was looking for him." That was Alan Lomax, who recorded guitarist Muddy's repertoire (see appendix for a list) for the Library of Congress. Muddy "didn't know what did he mean by the Library of Congress," but he got wise soon, moved to Chicago, switched to electric guitar, and created the quintessential urban blues sound. Throughout, Gordon details the gritty life reflected in Muddy's lyrics--you almost need a scorecard to keep up with the familial and extra-familial affairs of Muddy, his wives, and his outside women--rather than slings music theory, thereby creating the least tidied-up biography of a bluesman in ages, it seems. He makes Muddy the musician, Muddy the man, Muddy the parent, and Muddy the tool of the (not so) sainted Chess brothers come alive. You can feel the ugly winds of racism, hear the cacophony of the Chicago ghetto (Muddy's house stood on the dividing line between the Blackstone Rangers' and the Devil's Disciples' turfs), and share the exhilaration of Muddy's music--not to mention his way of living: told that liquor was killing him, he switched to champagne and recorded "Champagne and Reefer." Packed with facts, copiously referenced, and featuring a foreword by blues aficionado and riff-copper Keith Richards, this book is absolutely essential for any popular music collection worthy of the name. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (May) Forecast: With a foreword by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and a launch date just before all the nation's big summer blues festivals, this book should sell with blues and classic rock fans alike. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Journalist Gordon has also produced music videos and a blues documentary; Little, Brown has won awards for its music publishing. Expect this biography of the man credited with creating the blues to be good. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Also author of It Came from Memphis (1994), Gordon has crafted a full portrait of influential bluesman Muddy Waters. Born McKinley Morganfield in rural Mississippi, the home of so many blues pioneers, Waters (1915-83) had Delta roots and musical background. Gordon describes how Waters moved to Chicago in 1943 and settled into the South Side, organized a band, played the local clubs, began his recording career, and pioneered an upbeat, urban, electric blues sound. Waters established a long-standing association with Chess Records and wrote numerous blues compositions that became popular, including "Hoochie Coochie Man." Drawing on numerous manuscript collections, interviews, and published sources--all listed in the helpful bibliography--Gordon took advantage of considerable information on Waters's various sidemen, prolific career, and active social life. Illustrations, detailed endnotes, and three appendixes listing numerous recordings complete this first full-scale biography of Waters, which adds significantly to Nadine Cohodas's discussion in Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records (CH, Nov'00). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All academic and public collections. R. D. Cohen Indiana University Northwest

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
1 Mannish Boy / 1913-1925p. 3
2 Man, I Can Sing / 1926-1940p. 19
3 August 31, 1941 / 1941p. 35
4 Country Blues / 1941-1943p. 53
5 City Blues / 1943-1946p. 67
6 Rollin' and Tumblin' / 1947-1950p. 85
7 All-Stars / 1951-1952p. 103
8 Hoochie Coochie Man / 1953-1955p. 121
9 The Blues Had a Baby / 1955-1958p. 145
10 Screaming Guitar and Howling Piano / 1958-1959p. 157
11 My Dog Can Bark / 1960-1967p. 167
12 Rollin' Stone / 1967-1969p. 197
13 Eyes on the Prize / 1970-1975p. 219
14 Hard Again / 1976-1983p. 249
15 This Dirt Has Meaning / 1983 and Afterp. 271
Appendix A Itinerary of the 1941 and 1942 Fisk-Library of Congress Coahoma County Studyp. 285
Appendix B Muddy's Delta Record Collection and Repertoirep. 289
Appendix C How to Buy Muddy Waters and Other Related Recordingsp. 291
Notesp. 299
Bibliographyp. 373
Acknowledgmentsp. 385
Indexp. 389