Quotes of the Day:
“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
“To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.” –Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My brother sent me a book about the Mississippi blues masters earlier this summer and I’ve learned a lot from reading it about things I knew before only in passing.
Some of you probably know I haven’t seen my brother in a lot of years. He’s a semi-recluse, a writer, a music aficionado and record collector, and from the accounts of at least four people who have known him, probably some kind of genius. In my imagination, he’s a real life Mycroft Holmes. Lately, I’ve been lucky to learn a little about him and some of the events that shaped him, for better and worse, thanks to his best friend Carl. Anyway, we have a tenuous line of communication nowadays. I send him an occasional email through his wife and a letter when I want to make sure he pays attention, and he responds with a box of Napa cheese or a book on the blues, only once sending an actual note. I’d prefer a note, but the packages are enlightening. Hopefully, my choices below will pass a bit of enlightenment on to you. They were chosen based on some of what I learned reading Delta Blues; The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music by Ted Gioia, selected for TB by my brother Bill. I’ve never really listened much to a lot of these old guys so I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible their tunes are on You Tube. If you have the time and the interest, check out some of the songs below. If there is one thing Mississippi has to be proud of more than anything, even more than our state’s contributions to literature and athletics, its the fact that American music was born and raised right here.
Skip James–watch his fingers; also it is immediately apparent that Clapton borrowed heavily from James. I did a quick Google search and immediately found that Cream covered James’ “I’m So Glad” in 1967.
Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson
Muddy Waters–Baby Please Don’t Go
Old school AC/DC Baby Please Don’t Go
Howlin Wolf–How Many More Years; chose this one mainly for his spoken intro, Gioia says Wolfman Jack’s schtick was a mimicry of HW by the way, but also listen to the guitar work starting at the 2.32 mark and hear what Chuck Berry used; Hat tip to Mr. Wolf for his missin “g”
Son House–Death Letter Blues
White Stripes–Death Letter Blues
Guess that’s enough. I could go on and on. A few months ago I visited the BB King Blues Museum in Indianola, Mississippi. Museums usually hold little interest for me, but this one is really good, and if you are ever within driving distance of Indianola you ought to check it out. My favorite exhibit is a computer panel that is set up where you can search an artist, either a contemporary rocker or a roots bluesman, and trace their lineage going back or forward. There are headphones for your use and not only can you see which bluesman influenced your favorite current bands, you can listen to the songs that illustrate the musical family tree. One could spend days going through just that.