Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
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Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  35 reviews
”In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who’d stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 22nd 1986 by Da Capo Press (first published 1954)
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Best Non Fiction About Music
79th out of 757 books — 610 voters
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Best New Orleans Books
76th out of 208 books — 171 voters


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Community Reviews

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Teresa
Armstrong uses the word 'cute' a lot to describe something, so I don't think he'd mind me using the word 'cute' to describe this book. It's written in a conversational style, as if he's talking to his reader; he even goes on tangents before always coming back to his original thought. He also uses some slang (some of which he explains) which adds to its 'period' feel.

He's a generous man, very grateful to his musical forebears and those who gave him his first breaks. And while he doesn't gloss ove...more
Paul
I didn't want this book to end. High energy writing that's clear and full of sauce (though several times the modesty of the times allowed Armstrong to equivocate when I wanted DETAILS!), this early history brought New Orleans vividly to life for me. Satchmo's focus on the players he loved and the characters he ran with, suffused with warmth and good humor throughout, whet my appetite for some serious listening. Hear that solo on "Basin Street Blues"? Having read the book, I can now recognize the...more
Terry
What shines out from each page of this book is the essential optimism and loving-heart of Louis Armstrong. I guess I should have known this from his music, but it's words that affect me more strongly. Told simply and without affect this story of Louis Armstrong's childhood and young manhood is actually Dickensian, but in his words, it's a song of love and hope.
Mrs. Gallagher
I didn't know much about Louis Armstrong (except that I love his song, "What a Wonderful World." I find his raspy voice and incredible horn playing refreshingly unique. I was excited when one of my students loaned me this book.

I loved learning about Louis' early years in New Orleans and how an employee at a home for children fostered his interest and talent in playing the cornet. It was fun to learn about how his career took off. I especially liked reading about how he played in the marching ba...more
Byron Stripling
Who doesn't love Louis Armstrong and anything he writes or says?
Italo  Perazzoli
Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans is the story of New Orleans and of the jazz.

Dippermouth was also a great writer, the proof is this autobiography.

This story is written in first person, it seems to be with him we will witness of his experiences and the difficulties of that times.

Undoubtedly Louis has had a difficult childhood surrounded by poverty ignorance, and the racial hatred between black and white and violence of any kind.

Surprisingly Louis was not devoured by the revenge the main deterrent...more
Greg
Apocryphal? Probably half. Beautiful? Yup. You can hear him typing. In tempo.
Adam
Oct 14, 2008 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Homesick New Orleanians, Musicains, Jazz Fans, Tulane Students
Shelves: memoirs, new-orleans
Gotta bring a little piece of 'home' with me to Seoul right!?

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Well certainly anyone that has ever been should! There is simply something about that city that ones it gets in your blood its no easier to get rid of then the mardi gras beads stuck in the topmost branch of a tree!

In "Satchmo," Louis Armstrong recounts the younger years of his life growing up and learning to play the horn in New Orleans, Louisiana. While his writing style offers a unique,...more
Marsha
Armstrong claims he was born in 1900 (although in the 1980s, a researcher discovered that his true birthdate was August 4, 1901). He lived on a little street called James Alley. Armstrong writes: “Only one block long, James Alley is located in the crowded section of New Orleans known as “Back o’ Town.” His family was poor and when his father abandoned the family, his mother Mayann left Louis in care of his grandmother Josephine. At the age of five, he returned to his mother.

A turn of events hap...more
Frank
Reading this book has made me appreciate Mr. Armstrong more than I already did. It was interesting to get a glimpse of New Orleans in the early days of Jazz through the eyes of one of the most famous and respected musicians to come out of the city. The flow of the story was a little tough to keep up with at times due to the wide array of musicians, pimps, hustlers, saloon owners, cops, and whores that Louis constantly introduced but all in all, I believe that they helped provide a wonderful cast...more
Aries Eroles

Louis Armstrong's (known as Satchmo or Pops) simple testimony to his early life is a fun and great read. Written with great candor, Louis delivered an inspiring tale beginning from his conception, to his life with his grandma, to his first love (which was very unpleasant), to his first break-up (which I think was good for him), to his first first adventure with his bugle, and stop to the beginning of his wonderful career in Jazz music, which he leaves a wonderful legacy.





When I think of Louis
...more
Timothy Neesam
Superb autobiography by Louis Armstrong, from his early years growing up in New Orleans up to his first musical engagement in Chicago. No varnish in this book, very much in his own words, with slang, nicknames and much time spent in a boys home (where he learned to play cornet), growing up too poor to own shoes, with much time spent earning money in the red light district of Storyville. It's a great read about a remarkable time as told by a very remarkable man. Highly recommended.
Ms. Koss
May 18, 2011 Ms. Koss rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 7th and 8th grade, adults
Recommended to Ms. Koss by: Mr. Higgins
Satchmo was a autobiographical primer on Louis Armstrong's early life in New Orleans before he was an internationally acclaimed cornet (trumpet) player and jazz icon. Armstrong shared great stories about his family, learning to play the trumpet in a home for wayward boys (basically juvie), and his eventual rise to success playing with bandleader and mentor, King Oliver. Although he had a tough time growing up, Armstrong come across as having a very strong moral compass that helped him become the...more
Michel
I liked this book way more that I thought I would. It was well written and really let me know how it was like in the olden days. Also it showed how it was like for the black people and in some parts of the book I thought it was very unfair that they were treated differently and could get arrested just because they looked suspicious. Like when he was in a dark ally at night and a man saw him and Louis felt he had to explain himself, and when he did the man says that Louis was lucky because he was...more
Richard Shepard
Excellent! If you have any interest in the history of jazz or in New Orleans life in the very early 20th century this book is a must!
Jim
A very worthwhile read, if you're interested in Louis Armstrong and the history of New Orleans jazz. Written very conversationally, in Armstrong's voice... He tells the stories chronologically, but occasionally skips around and puts an event in time at a later point in the book. He drops a ton of names, which is good for reference and to establish context... In some cases his exuberance causes him to repeat his feelings over and over (especially concerning Joe "King" Oliver and Bunk Johnson's un...more
Stephen Campbell
A wonderful read, and a lesson to anyone; musician or otherwise. So much wisdom.
Andre
I was a kid in the 90's when a read this book. But I do recall Armstrong's ability to capture the interest of the reader. New Orleans is so different than any other city in the U.S. The uniqueness of culture in N.O. consumes you in a such a strange way. After reading this book I was thoroughly convinced that no other place in this country could have possibly developed a Louis Armstrong.
Seeing this book on Goodreads reminds me that I would like to read more fiction and historical accounts embedde...more
Marie-Louise Olsen
I really enjoyed this book. I was already a huge fan of Louis Armstrong. He was amazing, wonderful and such a talented man. His story is amazing. I was so suprised, somehow. He is very real of how he sees himself. Some people tend to exaggerate, when they write an autobiography, but he described himself in a very honest way. I loved the way he described his love for music. You can really feel that love through the whole story. Pure love for this book!
Mairi
A few years ago, I visited made a pilgrimage to the Louis Armstrong House and Museum in Queens. It was fantastic. At a few places through the tour they have recordings--Armstrong apparently recorded a lot of conversations--of him talking, telling stories. Reading this, I could imagine it in his gravelly voice, punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Luke Dombroski
A FANTASTIC book. I do play trumpet ad love Armstrong, and the detail and love woven into this story gives a side to Armstrong that's very like-able and funny. A must-read for any Satchmo fan.
Sheik
Satchmo tells us what it was like being Black in a racist New Orleans. His political activism was always there, and he came out against vietnam.....Our greatest Favorite Son. Play it Satch!
Andy
A glimpse of New Orleans in the 1910s. Lots of drinking, gambling, hookers and pimps. Would have been nice if he had kept going with this past the early 1920s.
Mena
A joyous read - Louis Armstrong's account of his early years in New Orleans is straightforward, amusing and a wonderful insight into his life and musical philosophy.
Cheryl Mcenaney
In his own words, from the master of 20th century music -- one of my greatest favorites and a wonderful, straightforward recollection of Louis' early years.
Scott Stambler
would make a great film.

written by satchmo himself. uneducated, honest story teller from the greatest cornet player in the world.
Erin Keller
Very charming! Armstrong has a great narrative voice, plus as a native of south Louisiana I couldn't help but find this irresistible!
Taylor
This was a quick, fun read with a really neat picture of New Orleans. I especially love the night on the town with his mother.
Joe
I learned that Louis Armstrong loved to promote laxatives and fiber as the reason for his longevity.
Sara Vorac
Best auto biography I've ever read. It reads more like a novel than someone just spouting off facts.
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Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo and Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer.

Armstrong was a charismatic, innovative performer whose improvised soloing was the main influence for a fundamental change in jazz, shifting its focus from collective improvisation to the solo player and improvised soloing. One of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century, he was first known as a cornet...more
More about Louis Armstrong...
Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings Swing That Music Louis Armstrong What A Wonderful World The Louis Armstrong Collection Songbook: Artist Transcriptions - Trumpet

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