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Blues - Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep About Feeling Low

Fritz Allhoff (Series Editor), Jesse R. Steinberg (Editor), Abrol Fairweather (Editor), Bruce Iglauer (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-118-15326-0
248 pages
April 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
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The philosophy of the blues

From B.B. King to Billie Holiday, Blues music not only sounds good, but has an almost universal appeal in its reflection of the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Its ability to powerfully touch on a range of social and emotional issues is philosophically inspiring, and here, a diverse range of thinkers and musicians offer illuminating essays that make important connections between the human condition and the Blues that will appeal to music lovers and philosophers alike.

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Foreword x
Bruce Iglauer

It Goes a Little Something Like This…: An Introduction to Blues – Philosophy for Everyone xvi
Jesse R. Steinberg and Abrol Fairweather

Acknowledgments xxviii

PART 1 HOW BLUE IS BLUE? THE METAPHYSICS OF THE BLUES 1

1 Talkin' To Myself Again: A Dialogue on the Evolution of the Blues 3
Joel Rudinow

2 Reclaiming the Aura: B. B. King in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction 16
Ken Ueno

3 Twelve-Bar Zombies: Wittgensteinian Reflections on the Blues 25
Wade Fox and Richard Greene

4 The Blues as Cultural Expression 38
Philip Jenkins

PART 2 THE SKY IS CRYING: EMOTION, UPHEAVAL, AND THE BLUES 49

5 The Artistic Transformation of Trauma, Loss, and Adversity in the Blues 51
Alan M. Steinberg, Robert S. Pynoos, and Robert Abramovitz

6 Sadness as Beauty: Why it Feels So Good to Feel So Blue 66
David C. Drake

7 Anguished Art: Coming Through the Dark to the Light the Hard Way 75
Ben Flanagan and Owen Flanagan

8 Blues and Catharsis 84
Roopen Majithia

PART 3 IF IT WEREN’T FOR BAD LUCK, I WOULDN'T HAVE NO LUCK AT ALL: BLUES AND THE HUMAN CONDITION 95

9 Why Can't We be Satisfied?: Blues is Knowin’ How to Cope 97
Brian Domino

10 Doubt and the Human Condition: Nobody Loves Me but my Momma… and She Might be Jivin' Too 111
Jesse R. Steinberg

11 Blues and Emotional Trauma: Blues as Musical Therapy 121
Robert D. Stolorow and Benjamin A. Stolorow

12 Suffering, Spirituality, and Sensuality: Religion and the Blues 131
Joseph J. Lynch

13 Worrying the Line: Blues as Story, Song, and Prayer 142
Kimberly R. Connor

PART 4 THE BLUE LIGHT WAS MY BABY AND THE RED LIGHT WAS MY MIND: RELIGION AND GENDER IN THE BLUES 153

14 Lady Sings the Blues: A Woman’s Perspective on Authenticity 155
Meghan Winsby

15 Even White Folks Get the Blues 167
Douglas Langston and Nathaniel Langston

16 Distributive History: Did Whites Rip-Off the Blues? 176
Michael Neumann

17 Whose Blues?: Class, Race, and Gender in American Vernacular Music 191
Ron Bombardi

Philosophical Blues Songs 203

Notes on Contributors 205

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Jesse R. Steinberg is an assistant professor of philosophy and the director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.  He has been a visiting professor at Victoria University in New Zealand, at the University of California at Riverside, and at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has published a number of articles on topics including philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and ethics. 

Abrol Fairweather is an instructor at San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco.  He has published in the area of Virtue Epistemology and sustains interests in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. He has contributed to popular culture volumes on Facebook and Dexter. The guitar, vocals, and lyrics of Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt are major influences.

Series editor:

Fritz Allhoff is an associate professor in the philosophy department at Western Michigan University, as well as a senior research fellow at the Australian National University's Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. In addition to editing the Philosophy for Everyone series, he is also the volume editor or co-editor for several titles, including Wine & Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), Whiskey & Philosophy (with Marcus P. Adams, Wiley, 2009), and Food & Philosophy (with Dave Monroe, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) His academic research interests engage various facets of applied ethics, ethical theory, and the history and philosophy of science.

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“Blues – Philosophy for Everyone provides illuminating essays from this philosophy of the blues.  It brings together intriguing insights into the connection between the blues and philosophy that will appeal to music lovers and philosophers alike.”  (SirReadaLot.org, 1 February 2012)

“Blues? Philosophy? Ludwig Wittgenstein as the Hoochie Koochie man?  Why not? There's a crossover: blues and philosophy both exist to make sense of it all, to find meaning in the vicissitudes of living. Leading the fly out of the fly bottle doesn't have to end up as a treatise, it can also end up as a song.  As this book forms one the Philosophy for Everyone series, with titles such as Cannabis -- What Were We Just Talking About? or Dating -- Flirting With Big Ideas, we know that it is not going to be too po-faced in its approach to putting this popular art form under the philosophical lens. And if the other books in this series are as good as this one, then I'll be searching them out, too ... The writing here is of a high order and the essays yield insights galore about the blues in its social, historical and cultural contexts and its personal and universal appeal.”  (Metapsychology Online Reviews, 27 April 2012)

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