Really the Blues - Mezz Mezzrow (1946)
If you get the chance and you either have or have not read Really the Blues (1946) by Mezz Mezzrow with Bernard Wolfe, pick it up! Mezzrow, in his life-affirming story, is a man who followed his passions no matter what. While the title may confuse, the book is not about the country blues or what you may consider blues. Born in 1900, Mezz Mezzrow was a white Chicago musician, who plays New Orleans-style jazz, which includes some blues songs. He discusses how white musicians were “out of the gallion” when it came to playing the blues, but it is of no great consequence to him.
In the Introduction to the book, Ben Ratliff takes some air out of the image that Mezz gave himself. But you can't help but not care if Mezzrow was tootin' his own horn a bit. The book is a great description of the first few decades of the 20th century in Chicago and New York, and a great book to read in the context of the current inabilities to understand the polyvalent concept of race in America.