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!
Archive for the Music Category
Many of us would like to think that we relate to you because we’re outsiders. For many you epitomize that “outsider” characteristic. Would that be a fair assessment of you or is it wide off the mark?
I am not sure what you mean by “outsider” here. I try to stay as close as I can to what I feel is real, ignoring whatever the popular trends are. I am not sure what I am outside of. I think that anyone following the trail of babble and unaware of what’s really real is actually the outsider, even if there are a lot of them.
From this recent interview.
I only recently discovered the music of Elizabeth Cotten, the extraordinary self-taught guitarist and songwriter. Cotten was a lefty, but rather than seeking a left-handed guitar or re-stringing a right-handed one she simply turned the guitar upside-down and developed a unique and inimitable fingerpicking style of her own, playing the melody with her thumb and the bass with her fingers. Hers is a wonderful story of talent triumphing in adversity, and her music a reminder that mastery of the guitar is not an exclusively male achievement.
5 January 1893 – 29 June 1987
Phillip “Phil” Everly
19 January 1939 – 3 January 2014
“I’ve sung ‘em on many a day and never thought I had ‘em. What did I want to have the blues for, when I had everything I wanted, all the liquor, all the money I needed, and more gals than I needed? What did I need with the blues? I was playin’ ‘em because everybody loved to hear me play ‘em and I loved to play ‘em. I could play ‘em, yeah. I was having fun. Sometimes I’d be kind of bothered and worried as any other man would be. I wasn’t lively all the time. Plenty times I would feel lonely as other people did. But as a whole I had more blues since I been preaching than I ever did when I was playing the blues… I had to sacrifice, I had to put down something to go to preaching. Ain’t many men put down what I put down, but I had to put down a whole lot just for preaching. And I’ve had a heap of blues since I been preaching…”
Rev. Ruben L. “Rube” Lacy
2 January 1902 – 14 November 1969
Quoted in Big Road Blues by David Evans
Thanks to my own dear mother, my tiny mind was permanently warped at a worryingly early age by repeated listening to those first three Mothers albums. They remain firm favourites to this day, particularly We’re Only In It For the Money, one of the most brilliant albums of all time. An avant-garde, through-composed suite mixing parodic rock with musique concrète it astutely and ruthlessly summed up and satirized the hippie phenomenon, foreshadowing the movement’s disillusioned collapse at Altamont and Kent State in the process. Flower Power sucks indeed.