I’d worried that the redoubtable, unsinkable Memphis Minnie, a.k.a. Lizzie Douglas, a.k.a. Kid Douglas, a.k.a. Lizzie Lawlers, might fall apart under the flaying of the pages, as artists suffer through biographies too-literal, too-scholarly, or simply without enough imagination.
I needn’t have.
The Garons’ book, revised and expanded from an earlier edition, presents the artist in such a tantalizing manner than even if you haven’t heard her sides, you’ll run to your musical platform of choice, to sooth your ache.
Memphis Minnie lived hard and knew desperation and drudgery, but she also knew high times and finery.
With her guitar and her attitude, she celebrated the passion that a body and soul together could bleed from life, with intensity, with appreciation for the moment.
She dressed classy and could jut a leg out for the camera, but she was a scrapper, never afraid of a fight.
She set standards for guitar playing, singing and phrasing still hard to beat; Led Zeppelin paid her the ultimate compliment of a ripoff.
She lives in our ears, and on the page—thank the Garons for that.