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Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America
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Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews

Tom Piazza's sharp intelligence, insight, and passion fuel this new collection of writings on music, literature, New Orleans, and America itself in desperate times.

For his first book since his award-winning novel City of Refuge and his stunning and influential post-Katrina polemic Why New Orleans Matters, Piazza selects the best of his writings on American roots music

Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Harper Perennial
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Jan 03, 2017 Dave rated it really liked it
Tom Piazza is a wonderful and living American author. He is an intelligent, observant reporter of topics that I enjoy -- music, writing and New Orleans. This book of essays succeeds in capturing the spirit of a variety of musicians, from broken-down country singers to Dylan. He documents pre and post-Katrina New Orleans. He writes well about Norman Mailer, the literary figure that dominated my youth yet seems almost forgotten now, and, in one of the best essays on writing, writing. I don't read ...more
Nov 06, 2016 Eldon rated it really liked it
This is a book about music and literature from the 20th century. The subjects range from Jimmie Rodgers to Bob Dylan and from Gustave Flaubert to Norman Mailer. It is a book about some of our most important artists and how they express the contradictory elements of the American culture. Currently living in NOLA, there is also a pre and post New Orleans perspective. (I highly recommend his post Katrina novel, City of Refuge.) My favorite chapter was about The King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin. Neve ...more
Feb 21, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it
“The endless American dynamic: Strain at the leash, transform yourself into something unrecognizable, burn off the old, claim every possibility for yourself—contain, as Whitman suggested, multitudes—then memorialize the past that you have killed to pay for all that possibility. The more resolutely you have murdered it, in fact, the more sentimental you will be about it.”

I noticed before that several reviewers commented on the disjointedness of this book and its guts, and I will agree that perha
Sep 12, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
Good books lead the reader to the next book (Dave Eggers "Zeitoun" led me to this book), and there are many next books and music that follow from "Devil Sent the Rain."

I sat listening to Jimmie Rodgers as I read the first two essays, then as I read Piazza's essay that accompanied the PBS series on the Blues and his essay on Charley Patton, I listened to recordings from early American rural music from the 1920's.

This collection contains a brilliant essay that accompanied the DVD "The Other Side o
Jul 27, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it
This book is a is broken down into three sections, which all vary greatly in subject matter, so it's difficult to know that you'll be reading next, if you sit down and read more than just one essay at a time. Having said that, I really enjoyed it. I really like the author's style of writing (although I felt at times that he came off as full of himself). I found myself very interested in subjects (such as 1920's blues music) that I have never before had any interest in reading or learni ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana
the essays and profiles in this book have been revelations. charley patton and jimmie rodgers sing in between the lines, and the profiles on bluegrass hellion jimmy martin and rocker carl perkins are incisive and touching.

''I never envied Elvis his mansion and all that. All these boys -- Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy Orbison -- they all lost their wives, their families. People say, 'What happened to you, Carl? All of them went on to superstardom. Where'd you go?' I say, 'I went home.' And that's a good
May 13, 2013 Alex rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I saw it as an anthology of sorts - spanning some of his great feature articles on jazz and bluesgrass in the 1920s and 30's, all the way to his political pieces detailing the many failings of the US government during (and proceeding) Hurricane Katrina. His personality permeates every sentence, his prose is excellent, his stories bring you nose-to-nose with the world he lives in.
Sara Habein
Jun 01, 2012 Sara Habein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Devil Sent the Rain is an excellent book. One does not have to be a big fan of the blues or “rural” music to find value within its pages, for Piazza writes in an informative way that's moving and honest.

(My full review can be found on Glorified Love Letters.)
Roberta Romero
Aug 14, 2011 Roberta Romero rated it really liked it
Informative read on music and writing. A good history of bluegrass and its musicians, a genre of music I am not familiar with but have a new found appreciation after reading this. Great insight into New Orleans, Katrina and more importantly the people. This makes me want to read City of Refuge.
May 26, 2012 Julian rated it really liked it
Very nice collection of essays on an array of topics. With Music and New Orleans both being of great interest to me, there are a number of great pieces here. I particularly liked the insight into the life of Jimmy Rodgers in Nashville and the piece about finding classic 78s at a flea market.
Dec 21, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
A terrific collection of essays written by a guy you've read before, but never realized it. Tom Piazza has written for numerous music mags, and has quite a career writing liner notes for CD's/albums. He's even won Grammies.
Jun 03, 2016 Gary rated it really liked it
Though I have yet to make a coherent sense of this book, I found it enjoyable. Perhaps since it is parse out in small pieces of usually less than 6 pages each, it made a feast of common subjects that relate on multiple levels.
Phil Overeem
Nov 06, 2011 Phil Overeem rated it really liked it
A very nice collection: stellar pieces on Jimmy Martin, Jelly Roll Morton's Library of Congress recordings, Charlie Chan movies--and some fiery pieces on Katrina.
Corinna Bechko
Aug 31, 2015 Corinna Bechko rated it really liked it
Really interesting and unstinting essays about music, New Orleans, and the state of post-Katrina America.
Karrie rated it liked it
Jun 29, 2014
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Oct 17, 2011
Lyle Brooks
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Dec 05, 2013
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Feb 10, 2013
Jonah Evans
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Jan 07, 2014
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Jun 18, 2015
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Brian Cornish
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