Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A Singer to Be Reckoned With
Take out the amateur, needlessly placed poems by Tyehimba Jess in mawkish, embarrassing praise of Lead Belly and we have a perfect book. Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures (Steidl) is not merely a picture book at all, but is rife with brilliant essays and era-specific memorabilia that portray the complexity of the man who just might be America’s finest folksinger – because he sang anything and was no purist. Every song that came his way turned into his version and, in many instances, his copyright, from “Happy Birthday To You” (covered by the world) to “Good Night, Irene” (covered by Frank Sinatra and hundreds more).