Tuesday, January 28, 2020
One of the things that bothers me about our hominid culture is how fast things get dispatched and put in the dustbin of history. They get relegated when past their supposed cultural due date. Hip is so transitory... I guess it has to be or we all would still be humming along to the songs of Stephen Foster. By the way, he wrote this one in 1860.
Grant me a second. Take folk music. Bands like the Kingston Trio, Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary were extremely talented, with superb harmonies and beautiful playing. Enormously popular. Yet I have heard (and argued) with musicologists who consider them "ersatz folk" because they did not have the supposed verite and authenticity of the black performers of the day, people like Odetta and Josh White.
I suppose that there is some reverse racism and classicism involved, how can white, middle class kids interpret the music of Leadbelly and Woody in an authentic way? I guess it is an early case of cultural appropriation. How dare they!
But they did interpret the music and they did it in a gorgeous and respectful way. I wonder why the white Weavers were largely spared the critical lash, perhaps it was their ideological bent, which was pretty ultra left wing.
In any case, the music from this period was wonderful but play it today at your peril. Try it, stick a Kingston Trio album on at a party and you will be quickly dismissed and figured as an out of touch "square."
Of course what happened to the music of this period also happened to countless movements beforehand, Glenn Miller comes to mind. The Dorsey, Shaw, Miller big band sound was monstrously large during World War II but somehow fell right off the table. Like Dixieland, Shag, Barber shop and countless other musical styles.
I am a specialist in lost cultural causes and trends and try to listen to them with an unvarnished ear. I know that there is a huge amount of material still waiting to be unwrapped and discovered. It just requires a little bit of detachment.
I wonder why the Beatles and Stones were not dismissed in the same way for interpreting black music, Pat Boone certainly was, mostly justifiably. But hell, maybe I need to listen to him and suspend the filter, maybe there is something there I will dig too?
For an example, listen to the original rendition of Anna that Arthur Alexander put out in 1962.
The Beatles version was great too but not in any way a slavish imitation. Not conspicuous. They seemed to have been spared the rod as did the Stones riffs on Chuck Berry, Muddy and Lightning Hopkins.
The Kingston Trio and PPM were not so fortunate. Shame really. Have to listen to the stuff in the car when no one else is listening. They could play their asses off. If a whole bunch of people are listening to something, there is a good chance it is pretty good.
Bob Shane, a founding member of the Kingston Trio has passed. I salute him and his music. Bob was actually a sometime Blast reader. Do you remember a few years ago when I posted pictures of my Handel marijuana shade? Bob had one too and wrote me a letter. Or maybe he called me.
A relative wanted it and he wanted to know what it was worth? Not that he ever wanted to sell it. We corresponded a bit. My shade broke but I found a new one. He left a great legacy, I hope that folks will give it another listen with open ears one day. Thank you, Bob.