Blue Guitar Highway
By Paul Metsa
(Univ Of Minnesota Press, Hardcover, 9780816676422, 288pp.)
Publication Date: October 2011
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This is a musician’s tale: the story of a boy growing up on the Iron Range, playing his guitar at family gatherings, coming of age in the psychedelic seventies, and honing his craft as a pro in Minneapolis, ground zero of American popular music in the mid-eighties. “There is a drop of blood behind every note I play and every word I write,” Paul Metsa says. And it’s easy to believe, as he conducts us on a musical journey across time and country, navigating switchbacks, detours, dead ends, and providing us the occasional glimpse of the promised land on the blue guitar highway.
His account captures the thrill of the Twin Cities when acts like the Replacements, Husker Dü, and Prince were remaking pop music. It takes us right onto the stages he shared with stars like Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen. And it gives us a close-up, dizzying view of the roller-coaster ride that is the professional musician’s life, played out against the polarizing politics and intimate history of the past few decades of American culture. Written with a songwriter’s sense of detail and ear for poetry, Paul Metsa’s book conveys all the sweet absurdity, dry humor, and passion for the language of music that has made his story sing.
Legendary Minnesota musician and celebrated raconteur, singer–songwriter Paul Metsa has produced and performed on numerous 45s, albums, and compilations. More than 5,000 gigs have taken him across the country and as far afield as Iceland and Siberia. A featured performer at Farm Aid V in Dallas, Texas, the Tribute to Woody Guthrie at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., Metsa is a seven-time Minnesota Music Award winner.
David Carr grew up in Hopkins, Minnesota. He currently lives in New Jersey and writes for the New York Times. He is the author of The Night of the Gun.
"Paul Metsa is a natural-born writer. He can write anything. Lyrics, letters, articles all flow out of him like an exotic, ferocious waterfall splashing down on all the senses. If he writes it, I read it."Nora Guthrie
"Metsa is a mountain in Minnesota music."Bobby Vee
"Paul Metsa is a great artist. I always look forward to playing with him."Lyle Lovett
"The roads Paul Metsa has traveled are so fabled you might think, opening his book, that it would be a book of footnotes—the record of a man walking in other people's footsteps. But Metsa brings every myth the roads carry down to earth, rewriting their stories in real time, returning the roads to real life, opening them up again to both past and future." —Greil Marcus