Published in 2002 and written by author Robert Gordon, Can’t Be Satified is a biography of Muddy Waters. The book is a loose chronological telling of Muddy’s life which is broken up into 15 chapters, each featuring a set number of years. Gordon does a great job piecing together the history of a man for which there wasn’t many living subjects or decent records. The author does his best with what remained which included old news paper & magazine articles, recordings, video, and interviews with any and every living relative, friend or business colleague. The book is mostly given in story form but breaks from this quite a bit to include references to other related notes, or excerpts from actual interviews or sources.
Through out the book Gordon takes time to flesh out many of the supporting cast including his influences and Delta Blues founders like Son House, Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Sonny Boy Williamson. You get a little closer look at the many musicians that made up Muddy’s band members and fellow Chess Records artists including Willie Dixon, Son Simms, Otis Spann, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Howlin’ Wolf… just to name a few. Gordon takes a lot of time exploring Muddy’s career as a recording artist and performer but also takes time to flesh out his family life. He documents what he could of his relationship with all his wives and what childern that he claimed from those marriages and from other affairs.
At first glance the book is fairly thick and unless you page through the end you will be surprised to find out the last quarter is actually just notes, acknowledgements and an index. Included are a detailed bibliography, chapter by chapter notes, guide to Muddy’s recordings, and a few other interesing tidbits.
Here are some interesting facts about Muddy Waters:
- His real name is Mckinley Morganfield which he changed to Muddy Water later in life and then finally to Muddy Waters after a record company misprinted his name on one of his early recordings.
- It was not a secret that Muddy was a womanizer. Through Muddy’s life he married 3 times and had many children with his wives and other women (I could not find an exact number). One of his children is Blues musician Big Bill Morganfield.
- Obviously Muddy’s Chicago shows were highly sexually charged, so much so that its said that Muddy would frequently expose himself to the audience after being goaded into it by the ladies in audience.
- One New Years Eve, Muddy obviously getting a little out of control partying it up accidentally shot his friend and employee Bo (Andrew Bolton) in the leg.
- Shortly after the death of Leonard Chess in 1969, while on tour in 1970, Muddy got into a bad car accident in which left 3 people dead including tour mate John Warren. Muddy suffered 3 broken ribs, a broken pelvis, sprained back and a shattered hip; he was bed ridden for months.
Check out more about Muddy Waters at the following links.
There is also a companion video to this book called Muddy Waters – Can’t Be Satisfied released in 2003 on DVD. It’s not great but it does the trick if you want to see footage of Muddy or if you just want a quick overview of his life. There was also supposed to be a companion CD released which would compile the authors favorite tracks across Muddy’s whole career but I don’t think he was ever able to work out all the licensing. If you are interesting in hearing Muddy’s best, check out my related post about Muddy’s music featuring a embedded playlist with all of Muddy’s best stuff (career spanning) here.
Posted originally: 2009-07-12 17:07:47