I can’t get enough of the blues of Fred McDowell, that master of rhythm. A single chord and a simple, insistent guitar figure were the essential elements the Fred forged into a dark, droning throb that drives into the soul and carries it away. The motion is irresistible, every song a segment of an endless train ride. As with all the greatest blues artists it is as if the feeling and the pulse of his music was always around, like cosmic rays, and with each performance he tuned in the frequencies for a little while. Or so it seems to me!
A traveler in thirteenth-century France met three men pushing wheelbarrows along the road. He asked them what manner of work they were doing and received the following three answers: The first said, “I toil from sunup to sundown and all I get for my pains is a few pennies each day.” The second said, “I am glad enough to push this barrow for I have been long out of work and have a family to feed.” The third said, “I am building the cathedral of Chartres!”
Slightly adapted from Ben Shahn, The Shape of Content
Painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot