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Author Topic: Blues And The Old Left  (Read 11400 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2008, 08:31:49 PM »
OK...what do you detest and why?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2008, 09:05:52 PM »
What do I detest. In general? The music biz. Nothing to do with music per se.

Offline ozrkreb

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2008, 09:45:42 AM »
My journey to the blues didn't have anything to do with the 'old left.' I grew up in a very conservative family that taught me to appreciate the good things in the world, and a person sitting down with a guitar and belting out a tune is good....whether they're black, white, rich, poor, north, or south. Actually, this is one of the things that I like about the blues community today....the left doesn't have a monopoly on it and the right doesn't either.....it's just the blues.

Az
My hook's on bottom, but my cork's on top

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2008, 01:15:21 PM »
My journey to the blues didn't have anything to do with the 'old left.' I grew up in a very conservative family that taught me to appreciate the good things in the world, and a person sitting down with a guitar and belting out a tune is good....whether they're black, white, rich, poor, north, or south. Actually, this is one of the things that I like about the blues community today....the left doesn't have a monopoly on it and the right doesn't either.....it's just the blues.

Az
So you think it was just a happy accident that white people all of a sudden caught on to the Blues, one of the "good things in the world"? Perhaps it was the advent of radio? It couldn't by any stretch of the imagination have appeared in white consciousness as the result of years of hard work and political struggle and many dangers braved by early civil rights workers? It couldn't all of a sudden show up on the stage of Carnegie Hall because determined left wingers like John Hammond and his brother in law Benny Goodman had been pushing for integration and the inclusion of this music in the canon of world culture for years, and perhaps that they were nudged in that direction by the presentations of international (or world) music (another gift of the left) by great Black artist-activists like Paul Robeson? Nah, none of that had anything to do with it I guess. I guess Studs Terkel's radio shows in Chicago with Big Bill, Sonny & Brownie and others in the late forties, early fifties had nothing to do with white Chicagoians crossing the tracks? Everybody just sorta stumbled across this stuff layin' in the street all on their own. Yep thats how it happened....
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline dj

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2008, 01:54:19 PM »
Well, OMuck, I must point out that your original question was "their parent's or their own left wing activities".  You're right that American blues revivalists tended to come out of the left wing/folk scene.  Certainly the Americans that I listened to in my early and mid teens did - the Lovin' Spoonful, Koerner Ray and Glover, etc.  But it's also true that at the time I had absolutely no idea where these guys were coming from, politically or historically.  I just liked their music.  And it's also true that there was a more important path for a lot of us who were young in the mid-60s:  Black American servicemen stationed in England in during the war play music, leave some records, some locals like the music, import some more, their kids pick up the records along with early rock 'n' roll, form bands, get played on top 40 radio in the US...  And thanks to my older sister's teen magazines, I knew a lot more back then about the British path than I did about the American one.     

Offline CF

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2008, 02:03:10 PM »
Altho' I like the communal aspect of Blues & I appreciate that many races & economic levels have been turned onto this music I do not think it a coincidence that it's greatest practitioners were black & mostly poor (& now pretty much all dead) . . . & were the kind of people that many of our ancestors would not have thought much of.
Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley & many British blues rockers (not to mention many popular black performers) had to trailblaze before any amount of white people recognized this music . . . add to this list the folks O'Muck mentions & you have near 100 years of often out-of-the-way effort to make Blues the sometimes middle-of-the-road 'Everyone's Music' it is threatening to become: great art the likes of Skip James' or Charlie Patton's is decidedly NOT for everyone. One of the reasons I became a blues fan & interpreter was because I realized how incendiary, chaotic, & sincere African American blues music is (not to mention sublime, melodic & life-affirming). 
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008, 07:32:18 PM by cheapfeet »
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Offline NevadaPic

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2008, 04:18:54 PM »
I never saw much point in getting over analytical or intellectual about the blues.  It is what it is and it's about feeling not thinking.  That it exploded on the scene in the 60's and beyond is only because it was kept hidden from us by racism beforehand.  Sure there were proponents of the blues prior to that time that tried to get a wider audience for the music but they were like whispers in the wilderness.  Once all those kids (yes boomers) got a listen though there was no closing the floodgates. 

Pic 
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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2008, 04:37:40 PM »
Quote
Sure there were proponents of the blues prior to that time that tried to get a wider audience for the music but they were like whispers in the wilderness.  Once all those kids (yes boomers) got a listen though there was no closing the floodgates.



Thats a little like saying "One day there were CARS! We got in 'em and drove off!"
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline NevadaPic

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2008, 04:49:00 PM »
No, it's more like saying "One day there was Martin Luther King, his colleagues and others and we listened and learned!"
If I don't meet you no more in this world, I'll meet you in the next one so don't be late...

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2008, 05:07:48 PM »
Good! So the link between the ascendancy of the civil rights movement in the sixties and the interest on the part of white audiences, and white record labels, in African American music is established. The Blues musicians rediscovered in the late 50's early 60's found a comfortable niche within' the pre existing structure of the folk music scene, which itself was an outgrowth of left wing activity. Its primary function was to humanize working class people, and people from other cultures to the bourgeoisie and upper classes through demonstrations of their artistic merit. Paul Robeson was largely responsible for helping to create the idea of these international musical programs. One only has to look at the Folkways catalogue to see the tangible evidence of this approach. Music of Reindeer herders of Lapland?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline NevadaPic

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2008, 06:03:29 PM »
Quote
I never saw much point in getting over analytical or intellectual about the blues.  It is what it is and it's about feeling not thinking.

Well done Mr.O'Muck ya drew me right in.  Nevertheless, I defer to my original statement.  As far as political discourse goes, I don't think we would have much, if anything, to disagree about. 

There is something about that simple framework of 8-, 12-. 16-, ??-bar blues that binds us all together.  It's like a canvas that we can paint our emotions on in a non-threatening way.  We can experience just a little bit, for a very short time the feelings of others through their music and we love it.  We love it because we are all human beings and deep down inside we know we are all the same. 

Pic     
If I don't meet you no more in this world, I'll meet you in the next one so don't be late...

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2008, 06:17:11 PM »
I think it was one factor among many. You could have the same discussion about any form of music that experienced a revival, of for that matter something completely new that had links to other forms. People make music and other people keep it alive.

Kudos to the people who made it more accessible to the masses back in the 50s and 60s. Without them it might have been a slower process. Would it have still happened? I think so. The same musical impulses that drove them drive us today. The lefties back then were no different to us. It's impossible to keep good music down, now more than ever.

Somebody once said "the left has all the best tunes". That I agree with. I find it impossible to think of a single great right-wing tune. So who else is gonna go digging for great music from the past? It's a no brainer from that perspective.

Online Stuart

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2008, 06:26:11 PM »
Mr. O and Pic:

Tangentially related, I believe this went up before you signed on:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=47&topic=4368.0

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2008, 07:18:09 PM »
Great story! Thanks. And BTW the Lapland record rocks! Just don't forget to antler proof your house before you play it!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2008, 09:06:08 PM »
Interesting thread, treading tricky territory. ;D While I'm sure there are many different routes into the blues for all of us, particularly since there is a fairly wide range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds here on Weenie, I think it's worth hearing from Sam Charters on this for one perspective at least that seems to jibe with what Mr OMuck is saying. The following excerpts -- I've skipped through bits but quote here at length -- are taken from Charters' introduction to the 1975 edition of his book The Country Blues. I think it's fair to call the original 1959 work seminal, regardless of the errors that have since come to light, and Charters is forthright about admitting those errors in his introduction. The fact is though that it was one of the earliest studies of the music, and Charters seems to even be able to take credit (or blame) for the term "country blues". This introduction is quite interesting in many respects, not the least of which is Charters' ability to reflect on past work, recognize its foibles, and not take himself too seriously, a quality I also found in the introduction to his more recent Walking a Blues Road, a collection of his writings on blues.

He begins by setting the scene very briefly with his view of the 1950s and then goes on to write:

?...So the calm of the 50?s was an illusion, it only reflected a point in time when much of the society felt that the system, as they conceived it, was working.

?But for many of us what was happening was frightening. There were serious problems in the society: inequities, imbalances, and?injustices, but there was no effort being made to deal with them. The effort, instead, was to ignore them, and there was considerable hostility toward anyone who insisted on pointing them out. The national consensus?was stifling any effort to break through to a clearer comprehension of America?s problems. But how could we break through it? How do you do something to deflect the course of a society that you feel has lost its sense of direction? This was a problem that some people were beginning to face in the 1950?s, and when I think of these years it?s this that still stays with me, the sense I had of people scattered across the country trying to find a different ethic, a different response to the American environment. It was a kind of nervous ferment that was to come boiling out in the 1960?s. What we were trying to do, many of us, was find a way to turn our disillusionment into political terms. We were trying to turn what we did with our lives into a political act, and what I did, in part, was write this book.

?I say ?in part? because everything I was doing during this period was part of this same effort. The Country Blues was, for me, another tract in a series of tracts I?d been turning out since the early 50?s. The books, articles, and the field recording I?d been doing were my own private revolution. In simple terms I was trying to effect a change in the American consciousness by presenting an alternative consciousness. I felt that much of what was stifling America was its racism, and what it desperately needed was to be forced to see that the hypocrisy of its racial attitudes was warping the nation?s outlook on nearly every other major problem it was facing. And I also felt that the black culture itself was a necessary element in the society?. I believed that if I could make people hear the voices of black Americans they might begin to see them as human beings, and not as sterotypes.

?How did this affect the books I wrote? I decided early in the 50?s that I wouldn?t accomplish anything by directly attacking what I felt had to be changed. I was still wary after the McCarthy period, and also this would have involved an extension of a kind of personal egotism that I don?t have?. If my books from this time seem romantic it?s because I tried to make them romantic. I was trying to describe black music and black culture in a way that would immediately involve a certain kind of younger, middle-class white American. They were the ones most ready to listen, an they were the ones, also, who could finally force some kind of change. The books were written as tracts for them, and the field recordings were a first step to get them across the line to where they could begin to listen for themselves. When I look back at what I wrote during this period it often seems a little insistent to me, the romanticism a little strident, but I was trying to get people to listen, and this seemed to be the most direct way to get through."


 


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