Charles, Ray and David Ritz: "Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story"; NY: Dial
Press, 1978. ISBN: 0-8037-0828-9.
Book shelves groan under the weight of "as told to" autobiographies-the bulk
of them self-serving, dishonest, and awful. A few years ago one baseball
player was found not to have even read his recent "autobiography" and the
whole business of books by celebrities has more to do with packaging and
marketing than the often painful work of giving an honest account of one’s
deed and misdeeds. Ray Charles and David Ritz didn’t flinch once. In
Charles’ own, wonderful voice, it’s all here: music, racism, drugs,
blindness. Honest, painful, brilliant. When I was working on CATCHING
DREAMS, the book I wrote with Frazier Robinson on his years as Negro League
catcher, BROTHER RAY was my model.
Bechet, Sidney: "Treat It Gentle"; NY: Hill and Wang, 1960.
This masterpiece of jazz autobiography fixes the writer in time (the early
20th century) and place (New Orleans). But Bechet is not embalmed in these
pages; rather he is as alive as his recording of St. Louis Blues. And his
account of his grandfather, Omar, a slave forced to flee through the bayous
of Louisiana for falling in love with a slave girl desired by his master, is
Dawidoff, Nicholas: "In The Country Of Country: People and Places in
American Music"; NY: Pantheon, 1997. ISBN: 0-679-41567-X.
Dawidoff travels from North Carolina to California to chronicle the roots of
country music-which is to say the country music no longer heard on
commercial radio. Along the way he visits Maces Springs, Virginia, home of
the Carter Family, and Meridian, Mississippi, home of Jimmie Rodgers, and
meets Johnny Cash, Doc Watson, Iris Dement, and Merle Haggard. What emerges
is Americana of the grandest order.
For the book collector, only the Bechet should prove a challenge to find.
Content provided by Paul Bauer,
Archer's Used and Rare Books.