...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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September 11, 2005 || 11:51 am
Music

As always, it's the music that gets me! and makes me physically pained at the thought that I'm leaving the States in ten days. We played a gig on Friday night in Selma, nothing that really mattered that much (fun but a pretty posh, old crowd), and I stood in with a local country band last night at a local bar - again, nothing 'high' musically, but the old feeling of how fun and personal it is to play music with other people came again, and how really, you hardly have to be able to speak to each other but when you play together, no matter how well or badly, something different happens...

This musical culture - sitting on the street the other night playing the blues, playing with my fellow Kudzus, playing last night on a last minute invitation, let alone the myriad little festivals, events and spontaneous occasions on which ordinary people get out their instruments and play - doesn't exist in England, which alone is a fact that makes me extremely sad to be coming 'home'. Sigh.

It's hard to explain - despite all the problems of the South, the racial divisions, the backwardness, the lack of hope in many ways, somehow I personally forget it all when I hear or play the music from this place - even though the music itself contains an acutely reflective social history of all this. And watching the crowd last night dance like mad and sing along to Hank Jr's 'Dinosaur' or 'Sweet Home Alabama', the unofficial state song around here, the fun they were having was so innocent, despite the 'whiteness' of the music and the white crowd. Rednecks and redneck music - well yes, and proud of it, as Hank sings, but why should this be a bad thing, necessarily? to celebrate your culture and roots? And I will always remember my client for the house I built, an 86 yr old black woman, dancing with a cheeky grin on her face to Buddy Holly, remembering her teenage dances. It's always more complex than you might think.

I'm really sad to be going back to somewhere that doesn't have music at such a central point in its everyday life. It is a cultural difference. Elvis isn't pop music - he's pure, high culture, as is Mississippi John Hurt, or Bob Wills, or Stevie Wonder. Their music is the pre-eminent American medium of cultural expression, preserving communal histories and memories, of marking time and geography and identity.

This is a badly expressed way of trying to say something that I think is important about music here and thus, about culture, identity, diversity - but, in the manner of the weblog, better written down than left in my head to be forgotten!

1 comments

1 Comments:

I couldn't have said it better. Besides the fact that i flunked the shit outta english classes. The feelings that you express about the music and the people are as vivid as a Norman Rockwell painting. You play a pretty sweet fiddle too. I should know. I was standing beside you while every drunk in the crowd was screamin to Dinosaur. Come back and sit in with us anytime. It'll be fun. - CR4

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:35 am  

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