I’m lost and I wish I were found, in the arms of My Darlin’ Hometown…

Alan LeQuire’s bronze and limestone sculpture presides over the Music Row Roundabout in my hometown of Nashville, intended to convey “the importance of music to Nashville”.  If you know much about my beloved South, you will understand that those easily offended (they’re naked!) called for its removal at its installation in 2003.  We all calmed down eventually, or at least got tired of shouting about it, and these days it is a mostly beloved iconic figure representing music in all its forms (we have a wonderful symphony too).  I love music, and many of my posts feature lines from songs I particularly enjoy and/or find relevant.  A case in point would be My Darlin’ Hometown, a song by the great John Prine that speaks to those of us who live far away from home.  My hope is that anyone interested might dig a little deeper, check out the music in question, or even better buy a song or a CD and give it a listen…you waste more money than that driving driving around every day, and music is much more fun!  (30 March, 2010  Nashville, TN)

Ask me how does a man feel, when he’s got the blues…

If you want to get a good argument started, gather a few blues aficionados and ask them to define “blues music“.  Boz Scaggs knows the blues (Ask Me Nothing clip).  People who are into the blues tend to be really into the blues, and it’s a fascinating subject that attracts attention from scholars and schoolboys alike.  Blues music was brought to us by poor blacks in the rural South, building on West African traditions and their own home-grown ingenuity.  To the early recording industry market segmenters you had the terms “race music” to define music by blacks for blacks and “hillbilly music” to define music by whites for whites…but the two types differed little musically, differentiated mostly by the race of the performer and the target of the record salesman.  Both hillbilly and race music spoke of the hard times and sometimes desperate circumstances of your rural Southerner, white or black.  When black Americans migrated to the North in search of economic opportunity the music went with them, morphing as innovations in technology such as electric amplifiers opened up new creative possibilities.  As American tastes changed and local gigs dried up, performers took their sound to willing and appreciative audiences in Europe.  Europeans musicians in turn took what they were hearing and incorporated it into their own sounds, with which they stormed the American market…ever heard of the British Invasion, Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, or guys by the name of Clapton or Jagger or Plant?  And the process of innovation continues today, each succeeding generation adding their bit to what came before, and sometimes even getting interested in where it all started.  You’re not going to hear Robert Johnson’s version of Cross Roads Blues on commercial radio any time soon, but you hear derivatives of it all the time.  Matter of fact, going back and listening to recordings by early guys like Johnson, Son House, the Reverend Gary Davis and others can be a real revelation if you haven’t heard it before!  Yeah, it’s not everybody’s sound, but it’s IN everybody’s sound.  The image below was shot at the harbor in Menaggio, on Lake Como in northern Italy, on a lovely evening’s walk with my sweetheart when the only blues in town were the harbor lights!  (11 September, 2011  Menaggio, Italy)