Unlike other books on the blues, which tend to focus on musician biographies, Listen to the Blues devotes time to the compositions, recordings, and musical legacies of blues musicians from the early 20th century to the present. Although the author references musical structure, harmony, form, and other musical concepts, the volume avoids technical language; therefore, it is a volume that should be of interest to the casual blues fan, to students of blues music and its history, and to more serious blues fans. The chapters on the impact of the blues on popular culture and the legacy of the blues also put the genre in a broader historical context than what is found in many books on the blues.
The book opens with a background chapter that provides an overview of the history and structure of blues music. A substantial, encyclopedic chapter that focuses on 50 must-hear blues musicians follows, as does a chapter that explores the impact on popular culture of blues music and musicians and a chapter that focuses on the legacy of the genre. A bibliography rounds out the work.