(Ray Charles – What I’d Say)
Received this on an email last night and thought this was probably the best place to share it rather than on the Comments. Why? because It’s another piece of critical writing straight from the horses mouth so to speak and in keeping with the authentic nature of this theme deserves a place on the front page. There’s some excellent dialogue taking place in the comments so it’s a small dilemma as to whether to put it there but, (in the words of Rupie Edwards on ‘Census Taker’) “time is short and money a roll on this ‘ting”, (not really money but certainly time !!) anyway on with the debate..
“Purely out of academic interest I’ll start by asking a question. It’s a simple, honest, and open question that I’ve not only (and often) asked myself, it’s one I’ve left hanging out there since first stumbling across it for any other interested party or person to answer. To date no-one’s properly answered it!
The question is this. Do you or did you know a Modernist?
Well, put simply, I didn’t, or if I did then said Modernist didn’t make it clear to me (which is the same thing). Thus, and as no-one else responded to the question, I’m left to ponder the very existence of this mythical harbinger/precursor to “Mod”.
Who was he? Where was he? When was he? What was he into? How many “hims” were there? (I’ll stick with the “he” if that’s OK ladies? Purely as a literary tool, nothing else)
First. Who Was He?
According to the little what’s known he was well educated (grammer school at the very least) and he wasn’t working or upper-class. So does this establish him as “middle-class” then? Somehow I doubt it. The middle-classes were, well, the “middle” class: safe, plodding, grey, they were rocking no boats with “attitude”, they were quite happy living the “you’ve never had it so good” life in their “Little Boxes”. So if Modernist wasn’t upper, middle or lower (working?) class who was he? From which social category did this legend rise from? It can only be from the post-war “striving” class i.e. upper-lower/lower-middle class families (mainly second generation immigrants and of those most likely Jewish or Italian… now there’s a religious conundrum if ever there was one! ).
As we know he was well educated that means he was over 16 and under 21. Why? Cutting a long explanation short, bright boys like him stayed on at school to the 6th. form and he wasn’t conscripted into the army.
Again, according to what little is known, he was a very sharp dresser, neurotically so! Clothes were more important to him than money or sex. This guy was a real true dandy! The clothes he wore were either designed (sometimes made) by him or his VERY close circle of fellow Modernists or rare and expensive imports. Once worn or better said shown-off they were disposed of fast; past on/over to younger brothers or the such like. His clothes were SHARP to say the least. Every detail, from style of shirt collar down to the cloth cover buttons on trousers (yes, trousers) was meticulously thought out. What he wore no-one else wore (if they did he – and the other face – was a finished article in the circle). Styles changed at the speed of light. The pace of it all took it’s toll. Going out looking like he did was all about being SEEN; being looked at and being copied. It goes without saying that aggro was avoided like the plague.
To summerize… He Was.
Aged 17-19. Good looking, slim build. Clever but no academic (good head on his shoulders). Not short of a few bob (son of a local businessman perhaps). Street-wise but not tough (a lover not a fighter). An individualist (with those clothes he had no choice). A narcissist…Next installment… tomorrow.”
Today’s cut is from a legend who needs no Introduction with a tune that needs none either. The great Ray Charles Robinson with a groundbreaking piece of modernist musicology that as far as I’m concerned defines the word and essence of the elusive ‘Modernist’ in a matter of minutes…