18 Oct 2010

The Blues - I've got 'em bad

You've heard this countless times before, but the blues are the roots of the wonderful tree that is rock and roll. All of the bands that we listen to were influenced by someone from a previous decade. Radiohead were influenced by Jeff Buckley. Buckley in turn was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Hendrix was influenced by B.B King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King and Elmore James. Blues men.

Every decade someone does something special and this progression started way back when under a tree planted in America's deep south. The blues comes from a place so untouched and unreachable that it delivers, in my opinion, the clearest and most honest music. Topics covered include everything from pain, to longing, to heartbreak and even optimism but the original songwriters weren't writing about fictional events. Their pain was real, they used their voices tremendously and only needed acoustic guitars (occasionally a piano) to blow minds. None of these fancy gadgets and gizmos modern musicians build empires with.

Son House - Grinning in your face
Skip James - The devil stole his woman
The list of blues musicians is endless, however, two of my favourites are Son House and Skip James. (For more info about the blues, how it's played, song structures, etc head over here.) I am much more concerned about when and where modern music became so dull, uninspired and predictable. That, however, is another rant for another day. For now I would like to do my best to get all of you to listen to some of the blues.

I think everyone should listen to the blues at least once. I am not talking about putting it on in the background while having a nap, I mean you should get some headphones, find this album, grab a few beers, push play and turn the volume right up. Son House captures more emotion in his voice than *insert crappy pop band name here* could in an entire career. A career likely to span three albums; the critically adored debut, the difficult second album and of course, the third and final offering, *aforementioned crappy pop band's* Greatest Hits. Pfft.

I want longevity, I want something that I love now and I still will in 10 years, one of modern society's biggest downfalls has to be our demand for instant gratification. Everything has to happen now, we have to be in touch all the time and if we can't text whilst sat waiting at the red traffic lights, well then that's just an absolute disaster. And that is part of what gives me the blues. Our desire to live in an alternate reality more than in our actual lives isn't necessarily growing, but it is worrying.

My post about being inspired was a short prequel to this, because beautiful, memorable moments happen in real life. I cannot explain how annoyed I get when I look around at restaurants and EVERYONE is on their smart phone of choice, regardless of their actual, human companions, missing out on real moments. In case you haven't noticed, weeks are flying by even faster than before, and THAT is what gives me the blues, we're losing touch with reality.

Luckily, I have the blues to listen to and you know what, it never disappoints. The pioneers of the blues did more than make music, and give birth to what would later become rock and roll, they provided an outlet, a medium for us. A medium that allows us to "unplug", sit back, enjoy an icy beverage and appreciate the magic of America's deep southern roots. Best of all, it's good for sharing. In real life.


1 comment:

  1. Blues is good for when you've got to clean a motherfucking dirty house, and you need a little inspiration. awesome blog post, my son!