FATHER OF THE BLUESW. C. Handy Macmillan ($3).
William Christopher Handy wrote several very good songs and one unkillable one, St. Louis Blues; but essentially he was less a musician than a good businessman whose business was music. He is often called "the father of the blues." He is not; their source is profound and nameless.
But he did bring this broad-shouldered musical form to its first public birth. Since, along with Negro spirituals, Negro blues are the most distinguished U.S. lyric art, that is no small achievement.
Handy's admirable autobiography makes all this clear, and a lot more. It is a rich, direct,...