Re: RARA-AVIS: Blue books

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 29 Feb 2004

Karin, I have indeed mentioned Leavin' Trunk Blues a few times, but mostly to point out how disappointed I was by it. I'm like you in usually not being thrilled by supernatural overtones and I thought it strange that Atkins seemed to assume most readers would not know who killed Billy Lyons -- any blues fan would certainly know. I liked the first, Crossroads Blues, much better, which dealt with the continuing mystery of Robert Johnson's death.

By the way, let me again recommend Cecil Brown's Stagolee Shot Billy -- turns out he really did shoot him, and this book tracks down the facts and social context of that event, looking at why this one of five murders that night in East St. Louis was immortalized while the other four were quickly forgotten. Finally, Brown looks at the many variations of the song and why it continues to have social value.


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