Find Your Next Favorite Book
Save up to $20
Our Money-Back Guarantee

I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues


Skip James (1902-1969) was perhaps the most creative and idiosyncratic of all blues musicians. Drawing on hundreds of hours of conversations with ... Show synopsis

Find your copy

Buy it from  $8.50
Buy new from  $11.53
Change currency

Reviews of I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

Overall customer rating: 5.000

Unromanticized View of a Bluesman

by Mizkwebb on Apr 3, 2008

This book is virtually unique in presenting a side of the "blues culture" very rarely considered. The author became close friends with Skip James, one of the most enigmatic and shady of the Mississippi bluesmen of the 1930's. Besides looking at a life lived in the shadow of the cotton plantation system, it is a psychological study of an emotionally stunted, misogynistic man with violent tendencies. At one point, Calt remarks that if he were black, he'd be like James, and if James were white, he'd be a lot like Calt. This makes the book doubly fascinating, because Calt not only analyzes James with a cold eye, but himself and his original hero-worshipping, oversimplified adoration of early blues legends. James spent segments of his life as a preacher, bootlegger, pimp, roustabout, and farmer in between serious attempts to make a name for himself in the music world. If you're already a fan of Skip James' music, this book will add layers of meaning to his songs. It's a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in the blues or in African-American culture in the 20th-century deep South. It also gives poignant new meaning to the cliche, "To understand all is to forgive all."

Love it or hate it? Review it now

Discussions about I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues

Start a new discussion
  1. What's on your mind? Review post guidelines

Join Today!

Share your ideas with other community members

Create account

Already a member?

Log in now

Get $300 in coupons and other goodies. Sign up for newsletter No, thank you.

You're signed up (and we you). Watch for our Welcome e-mail and your first coupon. Thanks!