Much (and who) of what Kleinzahler waxes eloquent about, many readers have never heard of. All the more reason to read it. It’s like walking into a See’s Candy Shop for the first time. Just because you’ve never heard of most of the confections doesn’t they don’t taste like Heaven wrapped in chocolate.
Somewhere in there, about two-thirds of the way into the book, Kleinzahler devotes a few sections to Phil and Leonard Chess. Fresh from Poland, the Chess brothers arrived in Chicago in 1937. They had a knack for making money, going into the liquor business. Soon, the brothers had a string of “stores and taverns, with the most successful outlets in the black part of town.” One of those places was the Macomba Lounge.
Of the Macomba Lounge, Kleinzahler writes, “The Macomba was not a fern bar.” What it was, was a dive. A dive with great music. And that’s when and where Muddy Waters came onto the scene. It’s a fascinating story, worth the cost of the book all by itself. And Kleinzahler relates it in his supremely inimitable style.
Great stuff! Not only does Kleinzahler provide musical commentary, but he isn’t afraid to toss in some off-the-cuff social commentary. Which explains why Kleinzahler’s prose is so much fun to read. Kleinzahler is extremely opinionated, as are most people in their secret hearts. Only most people don’t want to come across as narrow-minded, so they keep their mouths shut. Unlike most people, Kleinzahler expresses his opinions with a breezy insouciance that’s like a sip of ice-cold beer on a hot afternoon. Just what the doctor ordered!
And so is Music: I – LXXIV. It’s a book written in an erudite-corn-pone-down-to-earth style by a man who does not drive a Sport Utility Vehicle, and who has been described as scholar, poet, and wastrel in equal parts.
What more could one ask for?