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Blue Guitar Highway

Blue Guitar Highway

Paul Metsa

Foreword by David Carr

The singular Minnesota musician tells his story of making music, from folk outpost to pop paradise to stages shared with stars from Seeger to Springsteen

288 Pages, 6 x 8 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780816676439
  • Published: June 27, 2023
  • eBook
  • 9781452933214
  • Published: September 19, 2011


Blue Guitar Highway

Paul Metsa

Foreword by David Carr

ISBN: 9780816676439

Publication date: June 27th, 2023

288 Pages

31 B&W plates

8 x 5

"Fans will appreciate Metsa's stories about the writing and reception of many of his songs."—Publishers Weekly


"More than simply a title of regional interest to Midwesterners, this musical journey will resonate with readers who prefer their tell-alls spiced with a generous helping of conviction and a dash of humility."—Kirkus Reviews


"Blue Guitar Highway is a convincing testament to the strength that a performer can draw on by remaining in touch with his or her roots, while remaining open to the trials and rewards along the road of an America steeped in song."—Discorder Magazine


"You’ve got to admire Paul Metsa. He chased his dreams and became an accomplished Minneapolis-based guitarist and songwriter. Although he’s often lived gig to gig, you sense from this memoir that he’s loved the ride."—Lake Superior Magazine


"Blue Guitar Highway has so many compelling stories that you can’t put it down."—Star Tribune


"Metsa’s style is readable, sometimes funny, sometimes lyrical, and full of passion."—Northeaster and North News


"Blue Guitar Highway is . . . Paul Metsa’s equivalent of Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Vol. 1."—Hometown Focus


"Metsa uses his talents as a songwriter and lyricist to full advantage. His prose sets us to laughing, crying, and remembering often within the same sentence. . . . This memoir belongs on any music fan’s bookshelf."—Mark Munger, Cloquet River Press


"Reading the words of Paul Metsa as recorded in his memoir, Blue Guitar Highway, is a walk through the several decades of the local music scene with all of his and its connections with the ages and stages of American music writ large."—Twin Cities Daily Planet


"While the 271-page work is full of telling, humorous anecdotes from Metsa’s life—including the time he slipped Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia some leftover, psychedelic mushrooms—the story’s primary message is one of perseverance and passion."—The Downtown Journal


"Blue Guitar Highway conveys all the sweet absurdity, dry humor, and passion for the language of music that has made Metsa’s story sing."—Grand Rapids Herald-Review


"For music-lovers who admire the 80s and 90s in the Twin Cities rock-and-roll scene, Metsa’s journey is worth delving into."—Woodbury-South Maplewood Review


"Blue Guitar Highway, by Paul Metsa will certainly please music buffs who remember Metsaʼs days in the joints on Minneapolisʼs West Bank."—River Falls Journal


"Packed with colorful details about music venues in Minneapolis and on the Range and with references to things uniquely Minnesotan, Blue Guitar Highway offers lots of local appeal. On a broader plane, Metsaʼs book is an anthem to professional musicians who live to play. His heartfelt tributes to those who influenced him in his musical pursuits are numerous. So belly up to the bar now and then, and get to know this gregarious Minnesotan, a born storyteller."—Duluth News Tribune


"Metsa writes so well that he can even make a hangover seem beautiful. Compelling, gripping and laugh out loud funny even as he describes some far from funny happenstance, Metsa takes us on his lifelong ride, from the death of his mother on an operating table, to his bust for cocaine possession, through a personal quest to save a beloved local theatre, all told within the roller coaster ride of a musician from whom “quit” is definitely not an option.   He is Minnesota’s other Dylan."—Sound Waves Magazine


"The anecdotes are entertaining, the self-deprecating humor is often captivating, and the music trivia is mostly entertaining to those of us who know little about the music and the culture of Minnesota in the middle of the last century."—No Depression


"Metsa is the other great folksinger from Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range."—Huffington Post


"Metsa is a mountain in Minnesota music."—Bobby Vee

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.


Foreword by David Carr
Guitar Fools

A Boy and His Guitar
Buckshot in Short Pants
The Cry of the Muskrat
Cats Under the Stars
Vaseline Machine Gun
One More Saturday Night
Franklin Avenue
Electric High Heels
Party to a Crime
Robots on Death Row
House of Cards
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Ferris Wheels on the Farm
City of the Angels
Mississippi Farewell
No Money Down
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Ghosts of Woody Guthrie
Martini Gulch
White Boys Lost in the Blues
From Russia with Love
Key to the Highway
Texas in the Twilight Zone
Slings and Arrows
Barbeque and Blues
Slow Justice
Stars Over the Prairie
Fireworks on the 4th of July

Concert Appearances