Listen to the Blues!
Exploring a Musical Genre
by James E. Perone
February 2019, 238pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6614-2
$67, £52, 59€, A92
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6615-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

According to legend, Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil at a crossroads to gain mastery of the blues.

Listen to the Blues! Exploring A Musical Genre provides an overview of this distinctly American musical genre for fans of the blues and curious readers alike, with a focus on 50 must-hear artists, albums, and subgenres.

Unlike other books on the blues, which tend to focus on musician biographies, Listen to the Blues! devotes time to the compositions, recordings, and musical legacies of blues musicians from the early 20th century to the present. Although the author references musical structure, harmony, form, and other musical concepts, the volume avoids technical language; therefore, it is a volume that should be of interest to the casual blues fan, to students of blues music and its history, and to more serious blues fans. The chapters on the impact of the blues on popular culture and the legacy of the blues also put the genre in a broader historical context than what is found in many books on the blues.

The book opens with a background chapter that provides an overview of the history and structure of blues music. A substantial, encyclopedic chapter that focuses on 50 must-hear blues musicians follows, as does a chapter that explores the impact on popular culture of blues music and musicians and a chapter that focuses on the legacy of the genre. A bibliography rounds out the work.


  • Provides a well-rounded view of the blues genre in the 50 "must-hear" examples, some of which might not be expected
  • Goes well beyond the typical biographically based books on the blues in the chapters on the impact of the blues on popular culture and the legacy of the genre
  • Places the genre in the context of the wider narrative of African American life, and as an extension of African rhetorical traditions
James E. Perone, PhD, is Margaret Morgan Ramsey professor in music and associate dean of the faculty at the University of Mount Union, Alliance, OH. He is author of numerous books for ABC-CLIO/Greenwood and Praeger, including The Words and Music of James Taylor, Smash Hits: The 100 Songs That Defined America, The Words and Music of Taylor Swift, and The Words and Music of Elvis Costello..


"Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, September 1, 2019

"As with earlier volumes in the series, Listen to the Blues! is both authoritative and accessible. It will be a useful addition to public and school libraries,or in other settings where such a general introduction is desired."—ARBA, April 1, 2019

Exploring Musical Genres

Each book in this genre-and performance group-based collection provides the reader with background information on a specific musical genre, critical analyses of significant examples from the genre, and a discography and analysis of must-hear examples. Although written by scholars, the series is for the lay reader and general music fan.
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