Tag Archives: blues

Meanwhile

• From Rocker Zine’s interview with JJ Burnell of the Stranglers:

JJ: We wouldn’t be doing what we call “rock and roll” if it wasn’t for America.  So from what I recall as a kid was that there was black music – which white America didn’t know anything about – and British bands picked up on it, churned it out, digested it and churned it back out to white America.  And in that way white America discovered their black music.

Rocker:  Well, Elvis might have beat you to that a little bit.

JJ: Elvis was definitely there, and he was in direct contact with it, definitely, I won’t deny that. Anyway, I don’t want to be disingenuous, we all owe a huge debt to North America, we discovered this incredible music, the blues and subsequently rock and roll.

• Brett of Magic Mulatto wrote a great short story that speaks to human nature and various divides. Find the whole thing here and an excerpt below:

***

Every few weeks they’d have some friends from church over and Randall would make one of his gourmet dishes featuring some kind of roasted or braised meat he learned to cook while they were living in London.  They attended the Living Vine Church located behind the grocery store up the street. The Living Vine aspired to be a mega church, a liberal-leaning evangelical operation that attracted mostly (but not exclusively) White college graduates from the suburbs who still hadn’t found their niche in the new economy.  They’re a friendly and charitable lot, kind to strangers, friendly with neighbors, but only really friends with fellow congregants.

On this night, Chris and her boyfriend Jeff were over. Jason, who played bass in the church band, was maybe going to swing by after he broke down the sound equipment. They were gathered around the Goodwill-bought dining room table, rubbing their bellies, as Janey told them about the guy in the window out back. Jeff was sitting right by the window and couldn’t help himself. “I wonder if he’s out there now” he said, then smoothed back his ponytail, swung his arm over the back of his chair, and peeped through the closed blinds.  He bobbed his head a few times, closed one eye, then let the blinds snap back and swung around laughing, “Oh my god! He’s out there!”’

Accompaniment

Robert Pinero coolness

Have you ever found your senses inundated by loud music coming from a passing car?  If you have, and you happened to catch the driver’s attention for seeming out of harmony with their tune, it’s possible that music got even louder.  Maybe, while people share the same relative space, they never really live in the same world without being fine with the same kind of loud music.

Traditionally, good places to live are defined in part by how much quieter they are than elsewhere.  Two relatively common sources of loud music are celebrations and, more broadly, attempts to define one’s nearest surroundings with would-be self-reflective material.  At the latter’s best, it’s part-attempt to keep at bay what pervades in not fitting any ideal mold of the world-at-large, as so much of Black American culture has been.  Often, though, playing loud music is simply about the volume speaking to what one wants to hear.

When it comes to stereo systems, raising the volume of music to eardrum-destroying levels obviously does not bode well for the hearing of the person closest to the source.  But with the ease of estimating things in pantomime, maybe being unable to hear somebody else from a different world doesn’t seem so bad.

As annoying as someone else’s loud music can be at the best of times, when someone is raising the volume strictly to drown everything else out or stake their presence in a world in which they have no footing otherwise, it’s hard to be part of that everything else.  But maybe that’s why non-exclusive living can produce something as bold as the blues.  When one’s background is quiet and the world still reflects one positively, there’s the easy option of coasting along without the roughness that, ironically (and unfortunately less often than not), creates the most soulful kind of music–stuff that’s a far cry from loud noise.