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Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  767 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Muddy Waters invented electric blues and created the template for the rock and roll band and its wild lifestyle. Gordon excavates Muddy's mysterious past and early career, taking us from Mississippi fields to postwar Chicago street corners.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 23rd 2002 by Little Brown and Company
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Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
If you are a blues fan then Muddy Waters’ name and legacy are easily recognizable. He brought the Mississippi Delta sound to Chicago, electrified it and redefined the genre. Two young British musicians, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, lifted the name of one of Muddy’s songs when they named their newly founded band. Jann Wenner did the same when he started his new magazine in 1967. When Bob Dylan went “electric”, his first song was entitled Like a Rolling Stone. Guitar legends Jimi Hendrix, Eric ...more
Dawn Lennon
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
If you know Muddy Waters, you know the blues. If you listen to The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and countless other voices, you get to hear the influence of Muddy Waters. If you read this book, you get to know the life that informed all the Muddy was and what made him an authentic Delta blues man for his lifetime.

We can read about what it meant to be a Southern black and a sharecropper, but through Muddy Waters we get to hear what it meant, how it becomes part of one's bones, and how
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I watched / listened to You Tube Muddy Waters videos as I read this book. What an eye opening experience.
Richard Subber
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book I can remember reading, in the 1950s, was a young adult biography of John Paul Jones.
That doesn’t mean I love biographies. Honestly, I don’t read them much.
My taste in history runs to chronologies, regional and epochal frames of reference, les longues durées of the French Annalistes….
Recently I jumped out of my comfort zone to read Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. I’m a fan of the blues, and original Delta blues is good times music for me. Muddy Waters and “
Fernando Troyano
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Great story.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. excellent bio of the King of Chicago Blues.
Michael Arden
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chicago suburbs where I grew up are a long way from the Mississippi Delta. The north suburbs are also in a parallel universe far from the south side of what has been called the most segregated city in America. The country blues of the Deep South played primarily on acoustic instruments came north with the musicians as northern wartime industries expanded and the great migration of African-Americans from the South was at its height during WWII and immediately afterwards. Reflecting the frenet ...more
Jim Angstadt
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
After a summary of the economics of share-cropping, to include one half of the gross to the plantation owner, and the other half, minus all bills, to the share-cropper, maybe the result is positive for the share-cropper, maybe not. The company store may charge unreasonable-high prices. The local plantation script may be intentionally devalued. In other words, the share-cropper gets screwed.

In summary: "Sharecropping - getting less than half of what you've got coming to you - was good training fo
John Branney
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is well written and an interesting read, even though I struggled getting through the details of the early years.

It was interesting to read about all of the great bluesmen that were influenced by Muddy Waters and actually played in his band, such as Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, Junior Wells, and many others. It was heartbreaking to read how many of these pioneers of the blues actually died pretty young and penniless, screwed over by the record
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-south
This was an interesting read. I don't know if I learned a lot about who Muddy Waters was, but I learned a lot of what he did. The author makes a lot of Waters' sharecropping background and the idea that he was subservient to the record companies and didn't really question what he was getting as long as he was taken care of. I know a lot of recording artists have gotten screwed by record companies and it wasn't because they were sharecroppers.

I learned what others thought of Muddy and what he di
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of Muddy's development from acoustic blues in the delta to electric blues in Chicago. He led the way in updating the music from an agricultural environment to an urban setting where he created the music which so heavily influenced younger musicians in the Stones and people like Clapton & Page.
The book pulls no punches and shows aspects of Muddy's life & character which do not show him in a good light. It offers insights into the other musicians & people he worked
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McKinley Morganfield came up the Stovall Plantation in the Mississippi Delta playing in the dangerous water so much that his Grandmother gave him the name Muddy. He started picking cotton, playing music and finally got his first guitar after seeing Son House who would remain a big influence. He became Muddy waters after moving to Chicago and influenced many rock musicians such as the Rolling Stones who took their name from one of his songs as well as countless blues musicians.

I was lucky enough
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best music biographies I've ever read. More than just the story of one of the most influential figures in the history of popular music, this is the story of the blues. Gordon traces Waters from his days as a Mississippi sharecropper, to nights spent playing at fish frys in plantation juke joints, to his big break recording for the Library of Congress, to the smokey blues clubs of Chicago and beyond. In addition to a larger than life subject (a hard drinking, poker paying, gun toting ...more
Brendan Cheney
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I watched Cadillac Records and found the story it told too superficial and Hollywood; I wanted to know the real story of Muddy Waters and the history of the blues. This book was perfect for that. Every part of the movie gave only a glimpse - sometimes that glimpse was out of focus and sometimes it was grossly oversimplified.

Can't Be Satisfied fills in all the details. You learn about Muddy's original success and his second coming. You learn real stories about what blues musicians he was the rol
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much detail in this book. Exhaustive investigation of his early life and legendary encounters with key icons in American music. One drawback is the author spends a LOT of time detailing Muddy's sexual exploits in a way that isn't relevant to the story. Like, I just need to know that Muddy hooked with the lady across the street because she was renowned for her sexual prowess, I don't need to read several paragraphs about what it was exactly that she did.

Small drawback in an otherwise excellent
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A curious rock n' roll biography in that it's devoid of the stereotypical decline and fall due to drink and drugs. Muddy's life and career were interesting but remarkably straightforward. He mostly stayed out of trouble (except with women) and his career had highs and lows, before ending at a pretty high point of fame and success (if not so much in the way of monetary gain). The book was excellent, but seemed a bit short to me. Perhaps because of a lack of many scandalous escapades a la HAMMER O ...more
Robin Webster
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must for any blues fan. It tells the story of one of the great masters of the blues Muddy Waters and how he and other Chicago blues greats like Howling Wolf and Little Walter changed the direction of contempory music forever. It is well told and not only outlines his brilliant musical career but also also his relationships with the Chess brother, his women and some of his children. A great book.
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustive biography of the seminal electric blues man, Muddy Waters, but it is a difficult and slow read. I appreciate the vast research that went into the book, however I felt that the author could have used more judicious editing.
Still this is a thorough documentation of the life of one of the most important American folk musicians and if you are a blues fan you will want to delve into it.
Itasca Community Library
Jeff says:

I was lucky enough to see Muddy Waters live at Chicagofest on Navy Pier in the early 80’s. I can’t say I remember much except that he was sitting down playing long, slow, searing guitar licks with a slide on a Fender Telecaster. At that time I wasn’t really aware of the range of his influence since I was just enjoying the music, but he influenced rock bands as well as blues musicians and even a well known rock magazine took its name from one of his songs, Rolling Stone.
Mark Bullock
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book for a few years but hadn't gotten around to reading it until just now. What struck me most about the life of Muddy was that he didn't allow bad things that happened to him to stop him from enjoying his life. He became one of the most famous and influential musicians of his era and produced some truly great music along the way. I've been a fan of his stuff for some time and reading this book only adds to my enjoyment of hearing one of his tunes come up on my blues mix.
Allan Von schenkel
I had a very enjoyable ... and educational ... experience with this book. As I read it I followed along on youtube and wiki (listening to and reading about) every song, album, and performer mentioned. Perhaps in the future ebooks will be written in a way that provide links to performances and additional resources. Previous to this I read Buddy Guys autobiography. Reading this book has made me want to read books on or by BB King, Howlin Wolf and Little Walter.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly great read. The author brings you into the world of the plantation juke joints of Mississippi, the Blues clubs of Chicago and the eventual concert halls that Muddy strode like a lion. It also gives a view behind the curtain at the private Muddy Waters. I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in the Blues.
Frank Inserra
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing but Muddy here. This is a very enjoyable read that brings you from Delta to Chicago in the most personal terms. A panoramic introduction the the Blues greats from the greatest. You will learn a lot more than about blues music in this book, since it reveals a great deal about a vibrant sector of the American experience .
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad overall, and the long quoted sections where it's just Muddy talking are really enjoyable. Unfortunately the author is a huge dork and every few pages there's a cringe-worthy dad joke, or another piece of 'blues wisdom' imparted by a middle-aged white guy who was probably a virgin until the age of 30.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
First there is the music: deep, powerful, sexy. You have to get that on your own.

Then there is the man -- simple, complicated, ignorant, brilliant -- and the hurricane in which he set sail. You get some help here.

Essential reading.
David Burke
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muddy Waters was and continues to be the King of the Chicago blues. At the time of his passing I was playing in my first blues band and covering a lot of his classic tunes. Reading this book brought back the shock and loss of his death and the triumph of his life.

God Bless Muddy Waters.
Alex Rivas
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muddy Waters inspired magazines, hundreds of musicians and left a sizeable musical legacy, this book recounts his life well, his greatness and his flaws; his work and his private life.

If you are a blues fan, this is a must read.
Edward Sullivan
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good, informative, and engaging chronicle of Muddy's life, career, and influence on other musicians though I would have appreciated a deeper discussion of his approach to music and what made his unique from other blues artists who were his contemporaries.
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Blues fans
It makes me want to walk the steps of muddy and I thought that the author did a great job causing you to research other blues artists that played with muddy, and inspired him. I spent many hours listening to muddy and other artists because of this book.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
A fabulous book about one of the most important and essential American musicians of all time. Muddy Waters' influence on 20th Century American music can't be overstated.
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