Ian Dury – You’ll See Glimpses – wonderful idealistic lyrics.

Ian Dury – You’ll See Glimpses – wonderful idealistic lyrics.

Ian Dury is wonderful. He was a genius. I loved his poetry and philosophy even though he was meant to have been a cantankerous bastard.

I think this song really captures the dreams of an idealist. They all think I’m mad too. There’s almost a defeatist, listen to the band on the Titanic – it’s going to go down anyway. There’s nothing you can do. Might as well just have a good time and forget that the tycoons are strip-mining the wildernesses and chopping down the jungles, and slaughtering the animals, while the religious fanatics think that god will save the day or it doesn’t matter we’re all going to paradise.

I don’t believe that rubbish.

I’m looking out from the bows and pointing at the ice-berg. We can steer round it! It doesn’t have to end in disaster!

The answers to the world’s problems are all simple. There is nothing hard about it. We elect the psychopaths. We support the business men and bankers (and they are nearly all men) on their mad journey to increase their own pots of gold. We follow the religious nutters on their crusades, inquisitions and caliphates. We are always surprised when the inevitable happens.

Instead of growth lets think sustainable. Instead of nations lets think globally. Instead of worn out diatribes from long deceased superstitions let’s think United Nations charter of Rights. Instead of tribes and patriotism lets think brother and sisterhood. Instead of war, aggression and violence lets think peace, love and fraternity. Instead of homogeneity lets value the difference. Instead of hatred lets work on trust. Instead of destroying – let’s build.

It’s all about a positive Zeitgeist. You’re all welcome.

People tell me it’s human nature; we can’t fight it.

I say bollocks. We’ve come a long way. We don’t burn people, use cat-o-nines, whip, torture, castrate and murder anymore – at least not in this country. We need a global mandate to prevent the pockets of uncivilised behaviour, like ISIS, from having too great an effect.

We don’t go bear-baiting, cock-fighting, dog-fighting or hang people from gibbets.

Human beings can progress and become civilised. We’ve come a long way.

I agree with Ian. I like his dream better than ISIS’s nightmare!

It’s a dream. I get glimpses of it. It could be real!

Unfortunately Ian ran out of birthdays.

You’ll See Glimpses

(All spoken)

You’ll see.

They think I’m off my crust as I creep about the caff.
But I’m really getting ready to surprise them all,
Because I’m busy sorting out the problems of the world.
And when I reveal all I may get a crinkly mouth.
I’ve given my all to the task at hand unstintingly.
When it’s all over I’ll rest on my laurels.

Here for a moment is a glimpse of my plan:
All the kids will be happy learning things.
The wind will smell of wild flowers.
Nobody will whack each other about with nasty things.
All the room in the world.

They take me for a mug because I smile.
They think I’m too out of tune to mind being patronised.
All in all, it’s been another phase in my chosen career,
And when my secrets are out they’ll bite their silly tongues.
All I want for my birthday is another birthday.
When skies are blue we all feel the benefit.

Glimpse Number 2 for the listener.
Everyone will feel useful in lovely ways.
Trees will be firmly rooted in town and country.
Illness and despair will be dispensed with.
All the room in the world.

They ask me if I’ve had the voices yet.
They don’t think I know any true answers.
It’s true that I haven’t quite finished yet.
When it all comes out in the wash they’ll eat their words.
I’ve got all their names and addresses.
Later on I’ll write them each a thank-you letter.

Before I stop, here’s a last glimpse into the general future.
Home rule will exist in each home, forever.
Every living thing will be another friend.
This wonderful state of affairs will last for always.

This has been got out by a friend.

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Millionaires – Phat Bollard – A Protest Song with humour – for now!

Eddie Bewsher  put me on to this great protest song from this busking band – full of humour and laced with truth.

I thought it was brilliant. I wish it was on CD!!

Oh – it is available on CD – or streaming – you can get it from here:

https://phatbollard.bandcamp.com/

Millionaires – Phat Bollard

I don’t give to the big issue seller cause he’s probably on heroin
I walk past him with a grin and if I can I kick his dog
No, I don’t give to the busker
He’s talentless and lazy
He’s ruining the country
I think he should get a job
Instead, I give my money to:
Walmart for its tax evasion
Primark for its child labor
Texaco for the next invasion
I don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires and I don’t give a fuck about you
No, I don’t give to the beggar
That’s what I pay my taxes for
The government should shove him through the door, of a prison cell or a hospital
I don’t give to the homeless pisshead
He’ll blow it all on booze instead
Such a waster, doesn’t deserve a bed
What do you mean? “Welfare is dead “
Because I give my money to:
Walmart for its tax evasion
Primark for its child labor
Texaco for the next invasion
Don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires that don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to Starbucks in case they get hard up
BP cause making a living ain’t easy
Barclays cause they look after me and I don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires and I don’t give a fuck about you

There – you can sing along!!!

Beatles – Piggies – Lyrics that are very appropriate in this age of greed, bankers and austerity.

Beatles – Piggies – Lyrics that are very appropriate in this age of greed, bankers and austerity.

 

Snouts in the trough. Head down and forward. Mindless and vacuous. Never questioning, feeling or thinking. Fitting in. Doing what’s right. Getting on. Looking after number one. Making a living and who cares who you have to trample on.

The Beatles were a brilliant band. Such diversity, intelligence and cleverness.

“Piggies”

Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt?
And for all the little piggies
Life is getting worse
Always having dirt to play around inHave you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts?
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt
Always have clean shirts to play around inIn their styes with all their backing
They don’t care what goes on around
In their eyes there’s something lacking
What they need’s a damn good whacking

Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon

Rock Genres – The Blues pt2 – Into the Urban environment.

Rock Genres – The Blues pt2 – Into the Urban environment.

E_James4howlin-wolf lightnin' HopkinsMI0001325829

As the 20th century progressed things changed. The increasing mechanisation reduced the need for so much labour and the rural work-force started to migrate from Mississippi to the cities in search of work. The big northern cities of Detroit and Chicago had the factories and car production that required workers. The money was good and it proved a big pull.

I went to Chicago in 1971. Walking the streets of Chicago in the seventies was a daunting experience. The skyscrapers loomed over the underpasses and it felt very forbidding. I found it quite threatening. During the fifties the southern states were full of segregation, intimidation and Jim Crow but the Northern cities were even more dangerous. The places were full of gangsters, pimps and murder. You carried a gun and a knife and the murder rate was high. It felt like that to me. It was scary.

A staging post along the way for musicians was Memphis. Situated in Tennessee it was a half-way house on the way to Chicago. The talent scouts would check out the black acts from the rural areas for the big black record labels such as Modern, set up by the Bihari Brothers, or Chess (and it’s subsidiaries Checker, Cadet and Argo), set up by Phil and Leonard Chess. Sam Philips started off in the late forties as a scout for these labels (as did Ike Turner). After a bit he decided to set up his own Sun label in Memphis working on the premise that there was money to be made and why send all the talent up the road to Chicago when he could record in Memphis? Sam recorded the local Blues, R&B and Country before inventing Rockabilly. He ‘discovered’ Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and many others but he always said that the greatest talent that he unearthed was Howlin’ Wolf.

Memphis developed a booming blues scene on Beale Street. It had started out in the twenties and thirties with acoustic blues with the likes of Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes but by the forties it had turned electric. The first black radio station WDIA was broadcasting and giving airtime to the likes of BB King. I walked round Beale Street. By the time I got there it had become commercial. The old time place was knocked down but it still had a bit of the feel. There were blues bands playing and we went in BB Kings place and caught a few acts. At the end of town I sat by the bronze statue of W.C. Handy and then the one of Elvis in all his glory. It seemed appropriate. It took me back to the dust of that old town as it had been in its hey-day..

The forties was the era of ‘Race’ records. Radio stations and segregated music and audiences. The whites had their crooners and swing with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney or the Country & Western of Hank Williams, Gene Autrey, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb and Flatt & Scruggs. The blacks had the blues. There was a stark difference. The blues was raunchy in a way that white music never was. The blues seemed real. White music seemed sanitised.

Most of these early blues records were recorded in make-shift studios, in hotel rooms or above shops. That still went on but in the fifties there were proper studios like Sun and Chess. Many of the blues guys would record for a number of different labels using various pseudonyms in order to avoid being sued. John Lee Hooker was famous for it. He’d notoriously record for one label in the morning and another in the afternoon under a different name.

The post-war blues scene was different. The urban environment was harsher and the clubs small, noisy and sweaty. This was no country juke where a national steel guitar was sufficient. In order to make yourself heard you needed amplification. The electric sound mainly grew out of Chicago.

The workers had been on the assembly line all day and when they hit the bars and clubs they wanted to let off steam. The music reflected that. It was loud, aggressive, beaty and rocked. The clubs were packed and the floor writhed. I would have loved to have had a single night in one of those joints. From the reports they were alive. They were funky with sweat.

The development of the music can be clearly seen by a quick comparison between Robert Johnson and Elmore James. Elmore based his slide guitar style on that of Robert Johnson and Kokomo Arnold and did a cover of Robert’s ‘Standing at the Crossroads’ which was his story about selling his soul to the devil. In the forties, after being discharged from the army, Elmore worked in an electric store on Hickory Street in Canton. It was there that he developed his raw electric sound. He created his own electronics to produce distortion and sustain so that his guitar sound was searing. He has many imitators but has never been equalled. That sound is still boss. I visited Canton and that street. It had been demolished. All that was left of Elmore’s electric shop was the foundations and a few bricks. I stood in the dust and could imagine him standing in that shop working on his guitar to create a different type of pick-up. He was a genius in many ways. Elmore is one of my heroes.

The Robert Johnson acoustic version of ‘Crossroads’ is brilliant. His anguished voice and complex guitar are masterful. But Elmore took it somewhere else. He electrified the sound with a scorching riff and added a thumping beat. This exemplified the difference between the forties and fifties.

The whole of Memphis was jumping with the Blues and R&B and this is where Elvis snuck off to watch the black performers busking or playing in the clubs. He was knocked out by the power of Rufus Thomas, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup and Big Mama Thornton. But it was in Chicago that the Blues really reached its apotheosis. The clubs were a battle-ground in many ways and the giants of the scene would battle it out for supremacy. At that time it Was Muddy Waters slugging it out with Howlin’ Wolf for who was the top dog. They were closely pressed by Sonny Boy Williamson and Elmore James. Then there was Billy Boy Arnold, Little Walter, Freddie King, and Buddy Guy. Elsewhere Lightin’ Hopkins, Magic Sam, Robert Nighthawk, Albert King and John Lee Hooker were setting their styles.

The bands pulled out all the stops to create excitement and steal the show. They’d learnt their trade as showmen and pulled out all the tricks. Howlin’ Wolf was famous for his lascivious tricks with his harmonica, for howling and rolling around on the floor like a wolf and clawing his way up curtains, all wide-eyed and ferocious. He was a huge man, weighing in at 300 lbs. and standing six foot seven and created an imposing, formidable act. Muddy Waters was not to be outdone. He’d work the audience into a frenzy, put a bottle of coke down his pants, flip the top off and spray the audience at the climax. This was the type of raw sex and fury that was lacking for me in the controlled, censored music produced for white audiences. I wanted the real thing.

Willie Dixon was the driving force behind much of the Chess label success. He was a great bass player and arranger but it was his song-writing that really made the difference. He penned most of the great blues numbers that powered the later British blues boom including: Spoonful, Little Red Rooster, Wang Dang Doodle, Back door Man, I Just want To Make Love to You and Smokestack Lightnin’.

I went to Clarksdale and visited the Delta Blues Museum. They had Muddy Waters’ shack in there with a wax model of Muddy sitting in it with a guitar. It didn’t feel right to me. I visited the site where they’d taken it from and stood there looking over the fields of the plantation he used to work on driving his tractor, where it had all started. I wished they’d left the shack there. It felt more fitting.

I also went to White Station where Howlin’ Wolf grew up. The Howlin’ Wolf museum was shut but I walked around and sat by the statue they had to him. It was slightly smaller than life-size but it was good. He was being recognised as a great performer. Mississippi Hill Country was hot and fertile. Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf) used to plough the land with an ox. I could imagine the huge man doing that in the heat with the buzz of insects and rich smell of the soil.

My first introduction to the Blues was when I was fourteen and my friend Dick Brunning played me his records. I had to listen to Lightnin’ Hopkins. I couldn’t make out a thing he was singing and there was only that electric guitar run with Lightnin’ keeping time with bottle-tops nailed to his shoes. It took me a while for my ears to tune in but I grew to love it. It was a huge difference to the Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Beatles that I was listening to. Dick introduced me to Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and I never looked back.

Those earthier, sexier sounds were raw and sang of a different, more real life to the one I was living. It stank of sex, excitement and energy. I wanted it.

Out of that Chicago sound Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry emerged to pump that energy into the nascent Rock ‘n’ Roll scene. The blues sound was largely ignored by the white audiences in the USA but had a huge impact in Britain. Chris Barber was responsible for bringing the artists like Muddy Waters across the ocean where they received a rapturous response in Europe. Some even settled here. This sparked off a great interest in the blues which resulted in a multitude of British blues bands starting with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and giving rise to the sixties Beat bands like the Rolling Stones. Stars like John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf found a new audience in Britain just as their home black audience was moving on to the softer sounds of Tamla Motown, Doo-wop and the R&B dance crazes of the late fifties and early sixties.

The electric blues sparked off electrification back in the rural regions too. In Louisiana we had the swamp blues of Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester and Lonesome Sundown and in the Mississippi Hill Country we had the likes of Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside.

The Blues was alive and rockin’ and went on to invigorate the sixties Rock scene in many ways. Blues is seminal.

The Who – Won’t get Fooled Again – lyrics about the futility of war and regime change. Violent revolution changes nothing.

The Who – Won’t get Fooled Again – lyrics about the futility of war and regime change. Violent revolution changes nothing.

 

The sixties was an age of liberation. There was talk of a revolution. The students and workers took to the streets in Paris and set up barricades. Never had there been such a generation gap; such a difference in philosophy between the young who wanted peace, love, equality and a global perspective and the older generation with its paranoia and belligerence.

The Vietnam war had brought it all to a head. The cold war raged and the assured mutual destruction of the nuclear arsenals meant we all lived a few minutes away from annihilation.

We thought there was a better way – global brotherhood.

The trouble is that it is always the psychopathic and sociopathic people who rise to the top. They seem so plausible. They are so coherent; so strong. Once in power they are just the same as the old lot.

The Who summed it up in one of the most powerful songs of its day.

The trouble is that we always seem to be fooled time and time again!

Won’t Get Fooled Again

We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come, we knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same and history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again, no no

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There’s nothing in the streets, looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again, no no

Yeah
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Roy Harper’s First Album

Roy’s First Album

I’ve just spent the afternoon reacquainting myself with Roy’s first album ‘Sophisticated Beggar’ which was released in 1966 (although I did not get my hands on it until 1967).

It is quite a remarkable album in many ways and brought back many memories.

In some ways Roy was part of the Les Cousins Folk Scene. He was a resident at the club and part of the contemporary British Folk Scene that had blossomed in the wake the huge success of Dylan and Donovan; though this scene was quite different to either that of the Greenwich Village movement or the more commercial area that Donovan moved in. The heart of Contemporary British Folk was to be found in the likes of Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. These were consummate acoustic guitarist virtuosos who took the art to new heights.

I was lucky because in 1965 I had a couple of friends who were greatly into this new burgeoning folk genre. Neil introduced me to Davy, Bert and John – all of whom had produced ground breaking albums in that year, while Robert introduced me to the wonderful Jackson C Frank. Back then I was sixteen and open to anything. I was soaking up the Beat music in the charts along with authentic Blues, Woody Guthrie, Dylan as well as good old Rock ‘n’ Roll. Music was central to my life in a way that my parents and teachers would have liked my studies to have been. I was reading Jack Kerouac and liked the more authentic uncommercial nature of both the folk and blues. So, by the time I stumbled across Roy in 1967 I was already well immersed.

That first album of Roy’s was a genuine Garage album. The talk was that the Strike label was little more than a money laundering enterprise. I don’t know if that was true but it is amusing to think that Roy’s career might have been ignited by the mafia. The story was that these shady characters were looking for a suitable candidate from the Folk Scene to unload some money on and Jo Lustig, Roy’s manager, secured him the gig. The studio was a very make-shift affair with Pierre Tubbs as the recording engineer. This was hardly the state of the art recording studio – but they did have a revox tape machine and the results sounded great to me.

There was no publicity or marketing and Roy did a ‘do-it-yourself’ job on it, straight out of his street hustling days, busking round Europe; he produced flyers and touted it round at gigs. Not too many albums were produced and sold but it got his foot in the door.

By the time I’d arrived in 1967 Roy had just sold the last one but he lent me his own remaining copy! I bet there are not too many people that would have done that are there? I remember he’d augmented the cover with a bit of black felt-tip.

The first time I’d seen Roy was at Les Cousins sandwiched in between Bert and John and he’d played three songs off that first album – one was definitely Blackpool and I’m pretty sure one of the others was Goldfish. So I was eager to hear it. I could not wait to get that album on my turntable and hear what he was about.

Most people put Roy in the Folk section – man with an acoustic guitar who played the Folk circuit – but even a cursory listen to that first album shows that he was much more than that. Roy has never been limited to any one type of style. There was the customary guitar virtuoso track with ‘Blackpool’. Roy was an excellent guitarist and at that time everybody was trying to catch up with Davy Graham who had brought that array of Eastern chords and eclectic jazz to contemporary folk. What struck me though was the scope of the album. Roy was putting his poetry to music and experimenting with all manner of styles. This was the sixties. Anything went. Roy was at the cutting edge of all that.

When I put it on I played it through a few times to get the feel of it. Roy had foolishly given me his telephone number and was very long-suffering as this over-enthusiastic youth, with a head full of questions, persisted in ringing him up. He indulged me. So I rang him up and had a long conversation about the songs (as we had no phone I had to go to the phone box and feed it with threepenny bits). I was pleased to hear that ‘My Friend’ was about Jackson C Frank. Roy and he had been good friends and I really rated Jackson. His album was one of the best. I can’t remember what else he told me apart from the fact that he’d written ‘Goldfish’ for Nick, who was a baby back then. So I went back and played it some more.

‘China Girl’ was amazing. Psychedelia was taking off in 1967 but here was Harper in 1966 with phasing and a psychedelic willow pattern harking back to a beautiful Chinese girl Roy had seen around Soho. Syd Barrett would have been proud.

‘Committed’ went back to his electroshock treatment in the mental institute but it was a real rock out of madness and hysteria with Roy forgetting the words and ad-libbing. Ritchie Blackmore was in there! This wasn’t Folk. You wouldn’t catch Bert or John doing something like that would you?

‘Sophisticated Beggar’ was autobiographical and more poetic, with its inspiration back to his busking days. The view of society was already coming through strongly on tracks like this and ‘Big Fat Silver Aeroplane’ (with all its drug references of joints, spliffs, medal sucker (purple hearts)).

I felt that ‘Legend’ was one of the strongest songs, the poetry most developed and the song very different to anything I’d heard before. There were a few themes in here that Roy would come back to – ‘of landmarks in the desert wastes of multi-coloured crime’ – a bit of philosophy, dissolving snowflakes and everything’s just everything because everything just is.’ I could hear this song in future songs like ‘McGoohan’s Blues and ‘Same Old Rock’.

I thought ‘Black Clouds’ sounded very Janschish and ‘October the Twelfth’ started that antitheist theme that keeps cropping up in Roy’s catalogue. Roy told me he wrote the song on a bad day. You can feel the anger as he hit out at the mindlessness that surrounded him – but in the end he turned it on himself.

Then ‘Mr Station Master’, another autobiographical song with social overtones, complete with organ and rocky backing, was different again.

‘Forever’ was the most beautiful love song I’d ever heard. I told Roy that, and he sang it to me and my woman in Kingston in 1970. I still remember. It was special.

It was obvious that this album, with its different chords, guitar sound and varied styles, its poetry and rebellious vibes, was something out of the ordinary. I loved the sound of it and thought Pierre Tubbs had done a good job. He’d captured Roy – though by 1967 Roy had already moved on.

It wasn’t until Roy finally got the tapes from Pierre Tubbs (or was it Jo Lustig?) in the late nineties that I was able to hear a bit more of those sessions. There were a few interesting songs in those outtakes. Roy eventually brought them out on ‘Today is Yesterday’.

That first album was a great start. Roy was to take those themes and develop them further throughout his extensive career, but that first foray onto vinyl was something special to me.

Having said that, no sooner had I discovered it, than Roy had moved on to be snapped up by CBS as a star of the future, been given Shel Talmy to give him that star quality, and had moved on to record ‘Come Out Fighting Ghenghis Smith’.

I bought that the day it came out. But that’s another story.

Jimi and John – a poem

Jimi and John

 

Jimi and John – Jim and Janis

Brian, George, Buddy and Bo

Lost in the mists of time,

Back into the ground below.

 

Chuck and Muddy – Howlin’ and Slim,

Elmore, Elvis, Davy and Bert

No longer calling the tunes,

Now back part of the dirt.

 

Carl and Jack – Son and Robert

Otis, Aretha, Don and Phil

Gave us so many songs

We remember them still.

 

Opher 16.7.2019

 

 

I could have gone on to fill pages of the role of honour. So many great musicians have gone.

Just paying homage.

50 Years since the Moon Landing – Gil Scott Heron – Whitey’s On The Moon

Gil makes some valid points here. There’s always enough money for political projects – like the space race, war or creating billionaires, but there’s never enough to deal with poverty, healthcare, education, or to clean up the ghettos.

We still have racial inequality, soup kitchens, people sleeping under flyovers and innocents being bombed.

Perhaps they should find some money to deal with these things too!

“Whitey On The Moon”

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moonI can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While Whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause Whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But Whitey’s on the moon

I wonder why he’s uppin’ me?
Cause Whitey’s on the moon?
Well i was already given him fifty a week
And now Whitey’s on the moon

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon

Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moon

With all that money i made last year
For Whitey on the moon
How come I ain’t got no money here?
Hmm, Whitey’s on the moon

You know I just about had my fill
Of Whitey on the moon
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
airmail special
(To Whitey on the moon)

Rock Music Genres – The Blues – pt1 – Rural Mississippi.

Rock Music Genres – The Blues – pt1 – Rural Mississippi.

Robert Johnson

The blues started off in the Deep South of America, in the rural regions of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. The first recorded mention was by W.C. Handy, a bandleader who was waiting for a train in Tutwiler Mississippi. He recalled seeing a man playing a guitar using a knife on the frets and singing.

I visited that station and sat on the bench. It was hot, humid and sultry. I could imagine the scene.

The blues developed out of African rhythms on European instruments. In those early days there were no drums. Drums were banned. It was widely believed that the African Slaves could talk and organise through their drumming.

The deep South and particularly the fertile Mississippi delta , was the place for big plantations growing cotton, soy bean and corn. They used black slaves brought over from Africa.

The blues probably developed as a music form around 1900. It went on to become the basis of Jazz and Rock ‘n’ Roll and is still developing today.

People think of the blues as being sad. The romantic view is that it expresses the melancholy of the oppressed black slaves. That is far from the full picture. The blues covers a wide spectrum of styles and uses. It was used in the fields to entertain and create rhythm for manual work. A lot of the blues shouts come out of this. It was used as dance music at the jukes and was lively and bright. It was used as entertainment in the brothels and bawdy houses where boogie-woogie piano developed. It was used for busking on street corners or performances in inns. It was also used to express emotion and feeling. It was even used to express sexuality, full of earthy expressions and double entendres. Rarely was there any overt political or social comment, at least not in the recorded versions. Given the oppressive circumstances, lynchings and activities of white supremacist groups such as the Klu Klux Klan this was hardly surprising.

A number of the early exponents were disabled in some way. If you were blind, legless or handicapped you had no way of earning a living. Music gave you an opportunity.

The early exponents were people like Texas Alexander, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Patton, Kokomo Arnold, Peg Leg Howell, Tommy Johnson and Bo Carter.

Bo Carter specialised in the use of double entendre. White society was very puritanical and a lot of his stuff would have been quite shocking. Charlie Patton was an early Hendrix. He’d play the guitar behind his back, through his legs and back to front. Tommy Johnson had a trick of doing handstands on the guitar while playing. The object of the showmanship was to attract a big audience. They’d vie with each other on street corners.

By the 1930s the style had reached its peak. The great Son House (A leading exponent of the national steel guitar using bottle-neck), who I saw perform in 1968, taught Robert Johnson how to play. Robert, who was poisoned in 1937 at the age of 23, had perfected a style that was intricate, melodic and poetic. His songs went on to form the backbone of everything that followed.

I visited all three of Robert’s graves and paid homage.

I had the privilege of talking to Dave ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards who was with Robert on the night he got poisoned. He told me which of the three was the real one. It is the one at the back of the church.

It makes you wonder what might have been – if Robert had gone on to live and produce music of such quality the world would have been all the richer. It wasn’t to be and all we have left is thirty seven tracks recorded in hotel rooms on portable equipment over three sessions. They are scintillating.

Look what came out of them!

Bo Diddley – Greatest Lover in the World – lyrics of a modest man describing his sexual abilities.

Bo Diddley – Greatest Lover in the World – lyrics of a modest man describing his sexual abilities.

That’s me and Bo!!

boddiley2 BoDiddley

Bo Diddley was a bit of a maverick sensation. He epitomised the swagger and attitude of the hipster black dude. At a time when there was such inequality and racial hatred it was great to see Bo (short for Bad Boy) standing there with such panache and style.

He came straight out of McComb Mississippi fully formed. An ex boxer with all the attitude you could want. He was second to no one.

Some say he was a trifle self-centred. I don’t know how they could say that? His first song Bo Diddley and then Hey Bo Diddley were kind of focussed on one topic, I suppose. And then maybe Bo’s a Lumberjack and Bo’s a Gunfighter continued the theme and 500% more Man was a slight exaggeration.

When I saw him play he was certainly one of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen!

opher & Bo Diddley 1980 (1)

I don’t think this song was really sexist or misogynistic. It was just Bo boasting and having fun.

Who knows? Perhaps he was the greatest lover in the world?

I’m the Greatest Lover in the World – by Bo Diddley

I’m the greatest lover in the world
I was born just to love you, young girls
I’m the greatest lover ever seen
Hey, try me and see what I mean
I’m the first, the last, the best and the most
The women love me from coast to coast

The greatest lover ever made
I can love ya forty nights and forty days
I’m the first lover in the land
The call me a lovin’ man
I’m the first, the last, the best and the most
The women love me from coast to coast

From New York City, out to L.A.
The women think about me both night and day
From Canada to Mexico
I’m the one the women love the most

The greatest lover in the world
Born just to love you young girl
Know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover
Whoa, don’t you know I’m a nat’ral born lover?
I’m the first, the last, the best and the most
The women love me from coast to coast

< sax and instrumental>

From New York City, out to L.A.
The women think about me both night and day
Canada down to Mexico
I’m the one that the women love most

I’m the greatest lover in the world
I was born just to love these young girls
No, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover
I’m a nat’ral born lover
I’m the first, the last, the best and the most
The women love me from coast to coast

Yeah, yeah!
FADES-
I’m a lover
Oh, yeah
I’m a lover.