320 pages, Penguin (Non-Classics) (July 29, 1982)
When Robert Palmer's Deep Blues was published in 1982, the Blues genre had largely fallen out of favor with the record-buying public. Partially due to Palmer's ground-breaking effort - the most important cultural history of the music since Sam Charter's 1959 book The Country Blues - an entirely new generation was introduced to the Blues.
The book is more than a mere scholarly study of the Delta Blues; musicologist, journalist and teacher Robert Palmer traveled to the Mississippi Delta to get a feel for, and stories from, the people that lived and created the Blues.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Palmer had enjoyed a long love affair with the music, and would later produce albums by Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.
Deep Blues is a fascinating read for new and old Blues fans alike. Palmer tells the story of the Delta Blues through the lives of artists like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, and many others, usually in their own words. Palmer follows the same trail that was traveled by many bluesmen during the 1940s Delta exodus, from Mississippi to Memphis, from Arkansas to Chicago.
The book eventually spawned a documentary film and an important soundtrack album, but the primary importance of Deep Blues is Palmer's ability to put the Blues in context of modern society, creating an aura of interest and excitement in the music for the newcomer. The book is an important addition to the Blues canon, providing a comprehensive history of what the author called the "Deep Blues".