Elijah Wald – Other Books

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I have been a writer, mostly on music, for almost thirty years, publishing a dozen books and counting, along with over a thousand articles in the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and various other newspapers and magazines (many of which can be read in my articles archive), as well as album notes for various CD projects (which are listed on the music and albums page), and some social and political commentary.

My solo books have their own pages, and here are a few others I've written in collaboration, along with a listing of translations, because I'm very pleased they exist:

American Epic: The Companion Book to the PBS Series
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, with Bernard MacMahon and Allison McCourty)

A journey through the early wave of American rural field recordings, focusing on a dozen key artists: The Memphis Jug Band, The Carter Family, Elder J. E. Burch, Dick Justice and the Williamson Brothers, Charley Patton, the Hopi Indian Chanters, Joseph Kekuku, Lydia Mendoza, the Breaux Family, and Mississippi John Hurt. Bernard and Allison traveled across the United States, seeking out family and acquaintances of the original recording artists and assembling a unique collection of interviews, images, and ephemera. The main project was a multi-hour film that aired on PBS, but there is also a terrific box set of recordings and this book, which I pulled together from their materials.

 River of Song: A Musical Journey Down the Mississippi
(St. Martin's Press, 1998, with John Junkerman)

This is the book version of a four-part PBS TV series sponsored by the Smithsonian, in which we traveled the length of the Mississippi, visiting musicians who seemed representative of each region, from gospel choirs to blues singers, German polka to riot grrl punk bands to Spanish ballad singers. The book is full of photographs and interview segments, designed to introduce the regions and musical styles, but, above all, the musicians themselves. There a lot more information on River of Song’s website, and you might also want to check out the companion CD on the Music and Albums page.

Exploding the Gene Myth
(Beacon Press, 1993, 1997, 1999, with Ruth Hubbard)

This is an exploration of the complexities, misinformation and dangers of the new genetics technologies. The primary author is my mother, Ruth Hubbard, a biochemist who taught for many years at Harvard University. My job was to make it all easily readable by laypeople like myself. It is meant as a guide to the pitfalls of all the new genetic breakthroughs being ballyhooed in the popular and scientific press, dealing with questions like who really gains from genetic testing and how genuine are the "discoveries" of genes for this or that condition. It was regularly updated as long as my mother was active, with new prefaces and epilogues, and is also available in Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.

The first book of mine to appear in a language other than English was Narcocorrido, which was simultaneously published in English and Spanish. The second was also Narcocorrido, in a Croatian edition that was quickly followed by a Croatian edition of Escaping the Delta -- leading to a very pleasant book tour of Croatia. Since then, I've been thrilled to get translations in various other languages:

Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties
(Dey St., 2015)
Dylan book page

In French:

Bob Dylan Electrique

Italian Dylan coverItalian:
Il giorno che Bob Dylan prese la chitarra elettrica




beatles cover butThe Blues: A Very Short Introduction

(Oxford, 2010)
Blues Intro page

In Italian:

Blues: Una Breve

In Czech:

Co je blues?

In German:

Der Blues: Eine kleine Einführung


beatles cover butHow the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll:
An Alternative History of American Popular Music

(Oxford, 2009)
Beatles/Pop page

In Russian:

Как Тhe Beatles уничтожили рок-н-ролл – Альтернативная история популярной музыки


The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir
By Dave Van Ronk with Elijah Wald
(Da Capo, 2013 -identical to the 2005 edition)
Dave Van Ronk page

In French:

Manhattan Folk Story

In Italian:

Manhattan Folk Story

In Japanese

In German

Escaping the DeltaEscaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues

(Amistad/HarperCollins, 2004)
Robert Johnson page

In Croatian:

Bijeg iz Delte - Robert Johnson i povijest bluesa

In German:

Vom Mississippi zum Mainstream: Robert Johnson und die Erfindung des Blues


NarcocorridoNarcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns and Guerrillas

(Rayo/HarperCollins, 2001)
Narcocorrido page

In Spanish:

Narcocorridos: La música de los capos, guerrilleros y el México profundo de las drogas

In Croatian:

Narcocorrido - Putovanje u glazbu oružja, droge i gerile

Click here to access an archive of my past writings, catalogued by subject or musician, and arranged by genre, theme, or whatever other system seemed appropriate.