Give My Poor Heart Ease
If want to know about the blues and the segregated South in the 60’s, “Give My Poor Heart Ease” by William Ferris is a must read.
William R. Ferris set out as a white middle class teenager way back when with a camera, a tape recorder, and enthusiasm. I am sure some folks thought he’d lost his mind, and I bet almost all of them thought he’d never make a living.
He did better than that. He made a PhD and a university professor. He taught at Yale and brought his bluesman friends up from Mississippi to teach folklore students about real music and real people. He was invited into homes and to blues parties in towns like Clarksdale and Leland. He recorded work chants at Parchman Penitentiary, the Mississippi State Pen. He became personal friends with B.B. King. Nowadays he teaches history at U.N.C. Chapel Hill.
If you’re looking for a sanitized version of the blues and black history, this ain’t for you. If you want to read the raw truth, this is the book.
My agent always said to write Southern Lit, you had to start out as a storyteller. Dr. Ferris went right to the source as a kid, and he hasn’t ever stopped. True southern stories; this book has my highest recommendations; the man is a pro.
Here’s the website for the book:
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