over the MANY years that themusicologist has been flinging down cuts from the vaults OCEANS have flowed under the ‘bridge’, causing a man to reflect on the deepest of life’s experiences. I have been as deep as a wo/man can go. Travelled Hills and Gullies and along ‘the way’ there has only been one, consistent language that continues to teach and guide.
You know what language I refer to so I won’t spell it out.
Climbing back into the saddle with this mercurial (1951) piece from the pioneering blues legend , another Crescent City virtuoso, Lonnie Johnson. If you don’t know who this cat is suffice to say he was dropping urbanemusicology as far back as the 1920’s.
Sliding out of the Cool Ruler tribute, (farewell Don Gregory gone but NEVER forgotten), into a new selection..
Don’t know how many of you are aware of the two Cats on this recording? but one in particular, (pianist, vocalist and songwriter Leroy Carr), almost originated the sophisticated Urban Blues style which in turn led to Rhythm & Blues.
Many a Rhythm & Blues legend such as Count Basie, Charles Brown, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Amos Milburn, T-Bone Walker, (to name a few), paid tribute to Leroy Carr.
Before Leroy, blues was distinctly ‘Country’…raw, rough and ready. Jazz was the ‘Urban’ sound for obvious reasons but it was, (predominantly), Leroy Carr who made the change and inspired all the Big Town Playboy’s who followed in his footsteps..from the Slick suits to the conversational, laid back style of singing and playing it begins with Leroy Carr in 1928 with his recording of ‘How Long, How Long Blues’ who epitomised ‘Urban Slick’. Today’s cut was recorded with his partner and friend Francis ‘Scrapper’ Blackwell in New York City on August 16th 1934 and released as a 78 on Vocalion. Leroy Carr died at the tender age of 30 less than a year later but his legacy is plain for all to hear.
Where has themusicologist been for the last week?, (or the last 12 months come to think of it !!)
Lost and looking, Scheming and dreaming..for/about what? not sure but along the way much has transpired and it feels like I have walked backwards, forwards and round in circles…my poor shoes are worn and pants bottom torn but I’m still in the ring dancing, bobbing and weaving to the rhythm of life.
Sometimes it’s been blow after blow, (all landing square on me jaw), and the knees have almost gone but I’m still living and still learning hour after hour, day after day..
What I am trying to say is that I feel that themusicologist needs to change so I’m planning a new strategy that I’m working on. I’m not going to reveal it right now but hold tight and buckle up..it’s coming…
Until then I’ll just keep rolling with the ‘one tune’ in an effort to build up some consistency. After all ‘A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss’ so with that out the way hold this cut from the MAGNIFICENT Saunders ‘Sonny Terry’ Terrell and Walter Brown ‘Brownie’ McGhee. Bluesmen supreme who ‘climbed mountains’ to deliver some of the finest musicology ever recorded.
Hopefully you’ll listen, (and read), these poetic words of wisdom delivered by two Cats who knew exactly what the Blues, (and life), was all about…
My father, my father said these words,
Followed me down through the years,
Yes, yes, yes believe half you see son and nothing that you hear,
There’s a many broken hearts son that never sheds no tear,
It takes a rocks, takes a rocks and gravel,
To make wha? to make a solid road,
Yes, yes, yes everything that shines boy I declare it can’t be gold,
Well the brave old secret son that will never be told, (wooooh),
He said the longer, the longer the road,
The short, short, shorter the turn,
Yes, yes, yes listen my son you’ll never grow too old to learn,
I said why?
Because old coals will kindle light up and begin to burn,
He said the taller, the taller the tree,
The deeper, the deeper the roots yes, yes, yes
Blacker the berries well sweeter the juice,
Well with every rose son, there is some thorns too,
He said if you want if you want to be loved,
Here’s what you got, got to do,
Yes, yes you got to love somebody want someone to love you,
Well don’t let your right hand, know what your left hand do,
He said well a man well a man oh a man..man ain’t nothing but a man,
Yes, yes, yes..whole lot a things you’ll never understand,
Why?, so many people happy you catching as catch can
Go ahead Sonny Boy……
One more time now….
He said a man well a man oh a man..a man ain’t nothing but a man,
Yes, yes, yes..whole lot a things son you’ll never understand,
So many people happy you catching as catch can,
Today’s appropriate cut from the Legend that we know as Dinah Washington is one for those who know that the only blues is the ‘done lost my wo/man’ blues and no-one sings ’em better than Ruth Jones….Hold this quote from Pianist Junior Mance, ( 2 year musical companion of Dinah’s), who said;
“When I went to work with Dinah Washington, I learned what the blues were all about”
That’s not to say that the Blues are all about sadness…they’re not. I wrote recently about catharsis and that is what the blues are really all about. No good suppressing your feelings as one day when you are least expecting it they will come back and tear the heart and soul out of you. Another thing to bear in mind is that as sure as the sun shines trouble don’t last always and if you don’t feel pain you won’t recognise joy when it returns into your life.
This one from Dinah is from her Roulette days, (which turned out to be her last), recorded and released in the early 60’s by which time she had been married SEVEN times, (For those who don’t know her story she died at the tender age of 39 on December 19th 1963). Amazingly there are some who felt/feel that Dinah’s voice during this period had “lost it’s lustre” !! If I was there when they said it I would have simply replied;
“you’re talking shit and you don’t have a clue about music”…Job Done.
Missed yesterday’s date with themusicologist but returning early this morning with a wicked slice of 1951 Rhythm & Blues from the magnificent Chester Burnett, (A.K.A Howlin’ Wolf), and band featuring none other than Ike Turner on Piano, Willie Steele on drums and Wille Johnson on guitar with the Wolf blowing up a storm on Harmonica. (Produced By Sam Phillips)
After taking an old school battering as well as having his thumbs broken by the roughnecks who didn’t take kindly to his hustle Eddie turns up back at Sarahs apartment looking like he’s been ten rounds with Cassius Clay. She takes pity on the kid and wants to take care of him. Some women are funny that way…or is it just the mothering instinct? ..all the bravado and ‘front’ has gone and we catch a glimpse of the boy behind the man. If youve been there you know how it feels.
The music today is yet another slice of the Chess Blues pie but this time from guitar virtuoso George ‘Buddy’ Guy whose influence has spread far and wide touching almost every guitar player that followed; Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton have all cited Guy as a major inspiration, (especially Hendrix who was known to cancel concerts to go and hear Guy play). His stage antics are legendary which according to the man himself were inspired by, (at the age of 13), seeing Guitar Slim perform in 1949.