Born in Waycross, Georgia, Stanley Booth was introduced to the music of the region at an early age. His love for the South and its music is boldly presented in RYTHM OIL. He speaks of hard times, the raw deals, and the bad luck out of which blues musicians created an authentic American musical form. Most of the essays have been published previously, but read collectively, they weave a powerful tale of the South, its people, and especially its music. Through the twenty essays, Booth makes the point that contemporary popular music can trace its roots back to the music that was born in and around Memphis, Tennessee. The title RYTHM OIL is taken from a potion of the same name that was sold in Memphis.
RYTHM OIL opens with a wonderful mythic tale of how the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson supposedly struck a Faustian bargain with the devil. Besides Johnson, Booth captures both the factual and the mythic elements of such musical giants as Mississippi John Hurt, B. B. King, Charlie Freeman, Furry Lewis, James Brown, and Elvis Presley. Because there is a strong connection between the blues and rock music, the author also includes discussions with and about Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, and ZZ Top. Booth skillfully and sensitively reveals how influential the music from the American South has been, and how elemental it remains with its gritty and earthy subject matter. RYTHM OIL uncompromisingly presents portraits of musicians who are part of a tradition that remains vital by always speaking truthfully about the human condition. Serious disciples of American blues will want to read and reread RYTHM OIL.