From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Singin' the Blues

Endless Spring

Wine and Spirits

Endless Spring

From the author of “Drink Lightly,” a low-alcohol cocktail with fresh strawberry.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, leaning against a shelf inside the Drama Book Shop.


Selling the Drama

A conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda on theater, creativity, and the endless...

Peeling Back the Layers


Peeling Back the Layers

Facialist Joanna Vargas goes deep on the best ways to exfoliate.

The legendary Delta bluesman Son House liked to say that the blues is about one thing—"what's between a man and a woman." But in 2003, the Congressionally designated "Year of the Blues," the music that has its roots in a dark, sex-and-booze-drenched spinoff of gospel has achieved near-universal respectability. This season that sound will be everywhere, thanks to The Blues, seven 90-minute documentary films produced by Martin Scorsese for PBS (starting September 28), and a companion book, CD, DVD, and 13-part radio series.

With the success three years ago of O Brother, Where Art Thou?—the film grossed more than $45 million, and the soundtrack sold an astounding seven million copies—"authenticity" was suddenly marketable, and Scorsese, who had long sought funding for this project, found himself assembling directors as diverse as Wim Wenders and Clint Eastwood for an unprecedented celebration of down-and-dirty Americana.

The films are a blend of archival footage, contemporary documentary, outright fiction, and personal fantasy—and, for one filmmaker, a reconciliation with his Mississippi childhood. "When I was growing up, my very religious grandmother told me the blues was 'the devil's music,' " says Charles Burnett. "Now I understand: You listen to some of these characters, you have to say, 'Well, it is X-rated, if that's what you mean by the devil."


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.

Come On In

U.S. issued American Express Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members, enter the first six digits of your card number to access your complimentary subscription.

Learn about membership.