Bluesman Buddy Guy loves good stories.
And you’d certainly expect a sharecropper’s son from Lettsworth, Louisiana who made his way to Chicago and to the heights of blues stardom to have a few stories of his own to tell.
Buddy Guy tells his own stories, the good and the bad, in his book, When I Left Home.
In the book, Guy comes across pretty much as you may have seen him, a genuinely positive man, in love with life and the blues. His portrait of Muddy Waters as a mentor and father figure is touching, and so is his description of the deep friendship and musical collaboration he shared with the singing, harmonica-playing wildman Junior Wells, who Buddy still refers to as “brother.”
The love and support of Buddy’s family life contrasted with the gritty nightlife of Chicago’s South and West sides and the struggle to make a living playing the blues are stories told with no irony; that’s the way it was, and it was good.
This is where co-writer David Ritz shines: as a collaborative biographer, letting the subject tell his own stories in his own way. Among my favorites of Ritz’s other collaborations are Etta James’ Rage to Survive and The Brothers Neville.
In When I Left Home, I can hear Buddy Guy’s voice saying the words I see on the pages. I like that.
And he’s telling some great stories.