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Now if you evuh wanna call up de Devil, don't furgit dat he gonna test you out good an' dat he ain't gonna show up de first Sunday you goes out to de forks of de road an' calls 'im; he ain't gonna show up no sooner'n de third time you calls 'im an' maybe not den - from Jim Finn on Calling Up the Devil in J. Mason Brewer's American Negro Folklore

Author Topic: Blues And The Old Left  (Read 12581 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Blues And The Old Left
« on: January 13, 2008, 08:25:29 PM »
I am curious about how people came to be involved with the Blues, what they think disposed them towards responding to the Blues, and if anybody else but me, got their introduction through their parent's or their own left wing activities?
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Offline eric

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 09:48:53 PM »

My dad, FWIW, was a John Bircher and a stone cold racist. He was my dad, but there it is. When I saw the kids trying to get into school in Little Rock, it shocked my 9 year old conscience, and changed my life.

How did I get involved?  I picked up Mississippi John Hurt Today on Vanguard and got hooked.  When was that, 64?

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2008, 01:29:50 AM »
I was attracted to blues records before I had any idea they were blues.  I don't know, but probably the first blues record I heard on the radio was John Lee Hooker's "Dimples".  I didn't know it was blues, I just know I loved the sound and it did something for me.  In the late sixties I was never a Beatles fan, but one of only two or three Rolling Stones fans in my class.  I then realised they were essentially playing blues, or music derived from blues, as were the Animals, Pretty Things, etc. 

Great education came from a weekly national radio show here in the UK presented by Mike Raven.  That's where I first heard Robert Johnson. John Hurt and others.  I then delved back and whilst I love a lot of urban blues, downhome or country blues became my favourite.  As we all know, once you get a true affection for country blues, you never get it out of your system.
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Offline dave stott

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2008, 04:50:44 AM »
my addiction to the Blues has nothing to do with my parents...

My Mom loved Broadway show tunes and Dad was a SERIOUS Country and Western fan... When his radio wasn't tuned in to a Yankee's game.

I got hooked a teenager in the early 70's, when I heard a Brownie Mcghee and Sonny Terry album.

From there, it was nothing but Big Bill, Mance Lipscom, Tampa Red, Lightning Hopkins etc...mixed with Hot Tuna..

For whatever reason, it's only been in the past 3 years or so, that I have taken an interest in the Rev's music.


Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2008, 04:58:13 AM »
Certainly nothing to do with (in my case non existent) leanings to the left for me...

I'd been keen on guitars since pretty young, primarily because my dad strummed.  Took classical guitar lessons at school, and dabbled with a few things.  I have always been drawn to black niche music - throughout my teenage years I was heavily into the original House music and then hardcore rap music- until it all got too commercial. 

In my early twenties I was actively looking for new music to get involved with and thought the blues sounded (being a guitar fan) right up my street.  I dipped my foot in the water with Clapton, BB King etc (I still adore the latter).  I started listening to Paul Jone's radio show in the UK to find more stuff that I liked, as the more obvious Robert Cray/ Luther Allison stuff didnt really do it for me.

Then Paul played some tracks by Chris Smither (including some live ones when he opened for Luther Allison in a show recorded for the BBC) and I was blown away- initially by his rendition of High Heeled Sneakers- and then by some other tracks including Dust my Broom (which was to my ears much better than the Elmore version I had on a Blues compilation cd).  Invesitgation and purchasing of CDs followed, and I began to trace the route back from there through Robert Johnson and onwards.


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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2008, 09:19:55 AM »
My father was always a great fan of P. Green, Clapton and Canned Heat in particular. We listened to much blues music whenever we did holiday trips etc... so I believe that is how I was shaped by the blues.

I discovered pre-war blues many years later...

On (at least)the German pressing of "Livin' the Blues" by Canned Heat, just at the very end of the first side, there is a short passage of ancient music, a guitar and a fiddle... maybe 4 or 5 seconds... I never got to know what it was since internet was not too popular back then, but as the years gone by, my interest in Bob Hite, Henry Vestine and Al Wilson (a pal of John Fahey, I'm sure you know) of Canned Heat increased and I just wanted to get in touch with their roots as they all were avid collectors of 78's.

I just listened to some samples on the 2nd or 3rd was "Tell Me, Man" by Patton and Sims - that was exactly the song which Canned Heat would put on "Livin' The Blues". I was so hooked by this!

Rest is history!

Regards, Oliver


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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2008, 09:32:31 AM »
I saw a small five minuite documentry on Robert Johnson when i was 15 or so and thought it looked interesting, downloaded his recorded works and wasen't that interested at first, it was only one day when I had my mp3 player on shuffle on the way home in winter and "From Four till Late Blues" came on that I really started to appreciate it and basically went from there. I never listened to any 60's rock music or post war blues and still haven't so Im completely clueless when it comes to any of the music Im sure got many people into the pre war music.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 09:34:29 AM by Cooljack »

Offline outfidel

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2008, 10:29:04 AM »
When I was a teenager, my older brother brought home the soundtrack to The Last Waltz, which included . I've been hooked since then.
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Offline CF

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2008, 11:36:03 AM »
I think my blues intiation started with the Doors. I was a huge Doors fan in my mid to late teens & they covered a lot of blues tunes . . . & wrote a lot too & I think that's what gave me the taste for it. Clapton & Hendrix & Page & Vaughn get a lot of attention for their blues playing in popluar rock circles but I would have to say that I prefer the Doors' treatment of the genre . . . it's not so guitar-centric & Morrison was a better blues singer than most of his contemporaries I think . . . AND Robbie Krieger has a strange fingerpicked electric style . . . anyway, & then I discovered Robert Johnson & then I would say books like 'Nothin' but the Blues' really got me hungry for the prewar era . . .
 . . . & I would like to touch on O'Muck's reference to the 'old left'. I do feel that Blues music is political in essence & I think that's part of its depth & resonance. Think of a black man, for instance, making records in the 1920s-1950s about his desires & fears & state of mind . . . that's gonna have political ramifications no matter what is said. Just like any art of depth or seriousness or soul in especially today's ever-shallow culture has moral/political qualities. I don't know if this is always obvious but I do believe is a part of the music's dynamic. 
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008, 07:24:32 PM by cheapfeet »
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2008, 01:00:02 PM »
My route to the blues was as a 15 year old and the LP "Blues In The Mississippi Night"'. It was summer 1962 when Frank Ifield was yodelling "I Remember You" at the top of the UK charts. I had gone to a school chum's house to hear his latest pop record acquisitions. The father, according to my mate, was "a jazz fanatic" and whilst we awaited the use of the record player I became transfixed by what was emanating from it - people talking and singing about chain gangs and hard times. Apparently the LP on the turntable had been deleted 3 or 4 years previous. The father, so astonished at my reaction to what he had been listening to, gave me the LP along with an armful of Jazz Journal and Jazz Monthly (1956/7) vintage which he said contained articles about blues and chain gangs. And that's how I end up the sad soul I am today.

Offline Slack

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2008, 01:35:52 PM »
How did I get involved?  I picked up Mississippi John Hurt Today on Vanguard and got hooked.  When was that, 64?

'66 I believe.  I think this is the first country blues LP I had to go out and buy immediately after listening to it at the home of a guitar playing friend.  He could actually do a passable job at finger picking one of the tunes - for which he had some music notation.  I was mighty impressed - the technique seemed impossible to me (and at times still does).  This was at age 14 or 15.  However, I think it must have been Muddy that really got me hooked as we were playing "I'm A Man" in 7th and 8th grade.... our band had 5 songs we could do, which we'd just repeat until they (or we) couldn't stand it any longer.  But no matter how many times we sang "I'm a Man, I spell M-A-N.." -- somehow, the 13 yr old girls just weren't buying it.  :P
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 01:39:04 PM by Slack »

Offline dj

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2008, 04:09:51 PM »
Thinking back on my high school friends, they were about evenly split between people whose parents were (like mine) blue collar Hudson Valley Republicans (no Leftists there!) and ones whose parents were professors at Vassar College - we thought those professors were terribly progressive at the time.  But with one exception, everyone I knew who was into the blues was from the blue collar Republican side of things, and came to the blues, like me, via the British rock bands, then John Mayall and Paul Butterfield, then Muddy, Wolf, Sonny Boy, and B.B. King and finally the pre-war players.  So no, no political activity on my or my parents' part in my discovery of the blues. 

Offline Stuart

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2008, 04:15:37 PM »
My route to the blues was as a 15 year old... And that's how I end up the sad soul I am today.

It could have been worse, BH--You could have had to wait until you were 16! Then there would have been one more (or possibly one less??) lost year. (Spoken in the spirit of "It takes one to know one.")

As a tangent off of this thread, I'm thinking of the question, "Has my involvement with CB made my life better, worse, or is there just no way to tell?"

Offline NevadaPic

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2008, 04:58:08 PM »
I was at a friends house when I was 12 or 13 and his parents had a blues LP on the record player and I was really amazed.  It was the first time I heard blues music and I thought to myself 'Where has this music been all my life?'  His parents might have been Leftists but mine sure weren't.  With that said, I never heard a racist term or remark in my house ever.  This was all in the '60s.

It was a few years later that my interest in the blues deepened and I was able to explore them further.  I loved 'em so much I had to learn how to play 'em such as that has gone over the years...  Initially it was Chicago electric blues but I never could get the acoustic country blues out of my head.  There is something remarkable about one person with a guitar playing the blues.  Sounds like a bird singing on a sunny day sometimes or a coyote howling on a moonless night.  Sounds like life to me...

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2008, 07:57:46 PM »
If Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass and easy-listening comps like "Jazz - Delicious Hot" were 'old left' then my parents were older and lefter than Karl Marx. This lapse in taste was mitigated by a fondness for a lot of Sinatra and Ellington and the usual WW2 nostalgia, Glenn Miller etc.

Man it's no wonder the world exploded in the Sixties. How did I get into the blues? I have a problem with the blues label. It's all just music to me. I dig Texas Alexander and Chet Atkins, go figure! I'm more sure of why I actively detest some types of music than why I like others.


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