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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Reader's Diary #2163 - Christian Staebler and Sonia Paolini (writers), Thibault Balahy (artist): Redbone

A lot of fans will judge a biography, at least in part, on whether or not they learned anything new. On this measure, I would count Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Band to be a success. That said, I truly didn't know a lot to start. I only listened to a single Redbone album for the first time about a year ago, and even now I can just recall two of their songs: "Come and Get Your Love" and "Witch Queen (of New Orleans)." (Both of which are excellent, by the way.) The fact that they were an indigenous band wasn't that new to me as they were highlighted in the excellent rockumentary Rumble but I knew little else.

In this book, I heard for the first time about their time playing on the Sunset Strip, their encounters with the Doors and Hendrix, and more about their indigenous identity than I'd known. The two songs above certainly don't hint at that aspect of their culture, but they certainly embraced it. One of their albums was called Potlatch and one of their songs was called "We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee," for just two examples. It's most likely no coincidence that their most successful work in the mainstream wasn't the stuff that a racist society would embrace but the writers don't delve into this to the extent that say Andrea Warner did in her recent biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie. Not that they hid it either but I felt it could have been expanded a little. 

That's but a small criticism though as it was otherwise quite well done, including the art which had a sort of scrapbook feel that fits a biography perfectly. 

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