The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bob Riesman tells the life story of Big Bill Broonzy, a major figure in American blues and folk music. Reisman’s groundbreaking biography I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy, traces Big Bill’s career—from his rise as a nationally prominent blues star, to his influential role in the post-World War II folk revival, to his overseas tours in the 1950s, which ignited the British blues-rock explosion of the 1960s.


Bob Riesman

Comments [6]

rick hass

Listeners may be interested in another recent book on Big Bill Broonzy. Blue Smoke: The Recorded Journey of Big Bill Broonzy by Roger House was published in 2010 by Louisiana State University Press. It examines Broonzy’s life in the context of the African American urban migration. For more information see

May. 22 2011 08:48 AM
Isaiah Thompson from Philadelphia

Good god! Big Bill was a great musician, of course, but also — and perhaps first and foremost — an intellectual, an activist, and a committed leftist.  I can't believe neither interviewer nor interviewee mentioned his intellectual and political contributions. Leonard, make somebody (maybe not this guy) come back and tell the more important story of Big Bill's life!

May. 09 2011 09:15 PM
Ricky Gordon from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY

...Great to hear such love and respect for Big Bill from Bob Riesman and Thank you Leonard Lopate for bringing us an important history lesson.

May. 09 2011 04:43 PM
harold from NYC

Great interview. So many great performances by Big Bill on Youtube. "Key to the Highway" "Baby, Please Don't Go" "Mississippi Blues" and on and on. Songs that speak epic stories of our history between the lines. Bill is amazing. Makes all the others seem mannered.

May. 09 2011 01:03 PM

In 1955, I met Big Bill when he was dishwasher at a coop summer colony and children's work camp in Cloverdale, Michigan that I attended. He sang for us often As a New Yorker who was 8 years old, I had never heard anything like "If Your WHite, you're all right, if you're brown stick around, if you're black, get back, get back, get back. Very proto-rock and roll." Look forward to reading your book

May. 09 2011 12:54 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

There is rich information and audio about Alan Lomax friend and colleague Bill Broonzy on the Lomax Archive site:

May. 09 2011 12:06 PM

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