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Sweet AirModernism, Regionalism, and American Popular Song$
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Edward P. Comentale

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037399

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037399.001.0001

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Lord, It Just Won’t Stop!

Lord, It Just Won’t Stop!

Work and Blues in the Industrial Delta

(p.29) Chapter One Lord, It Just Won’t Stop!
Sweet Air

Edward P. Comentale

University of Illinois Press

This chapter shows that the blues performer—a persistent template for musical identity in America—has entered the modern scene only under threat of having his or her individuality destroyed, as emancipation is immediately troubled by both the wild sensorium of modern life and the more direct threats of Jim Crow. But instead of romanticizing the blues musician as hapless victim or romantic drifter, this chapter depicts the blues performer as a proto-modernist, an avant-garde performer, whose song adopts and adapts the formal structures of the Delta economy and its evolving landscape, using them to sustain their own career and to provide a new set of stances and attitudes for a working public caught in the grip of industrial change. The final part of the chapter shows how these processes were extended by the production and circulation of “race records.”

Keywords:   blues, blues performers, phonography, Jim Crow, Delta economy, industrial change, race records

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