Sine qua non

Now that he’s made it to Viagra commercials might as well hear other great ones. As much as I hate to see the commercials they do get the music out there. We shouldn’t be snobby. My son Peter was at a high school dance last night and the DJ played Smokestack Lightning and the kids danced to it. This shit is eternal, and lest I stand accused of favoring my own era the 50s are not my era. I was born in 1955. I hardly heard any 50s music until WCBS-FM in New York became an “oldies” station in 1971, which then basically meant the 50s. At that time I 15-16 years old and was way into the Stones, Beatles, Led Zep, etc. No doubt age 16 is still the formative years, so in that sense sure it’s part of my formation, but I came to realize then and since that almost everything I like is variations and developments on blues, doo wop, and rocknroll/rockabilly. And Howlin Wolf is just in a class by himself. He’s like Ty Cobb – few you CAN compare him to and those few, well, Muddy Waters is Tris Speaker.


7 thoughts on “Sine qua non

  1. Random thoughts:

    1) I absolutely get you on how almost everything traces back to the very basics. A great musical experience of my lifetime has been having some really special “original” song in my heart, then reading an interview with the authors revealing who they were into and copying at the time.

    2) But, for me at least, I don’t always think the bedrock basics are the best. Sometimes, again for me at least, the imitators improve upon the basics by conglomerating and polishing, etc. Ain’t no better example of that than my Hellacopter faves. Not sure there’s anything they do that they invented but, Sweet Baby Jesus, they sure do put it all together in an always-tasty package.

    3) And that’s why I’m not ashamed to love the Hellas, because 99 percent of what you think is new and original probably isn’t (see #1), you just haven’t discovered that particular heavy influence yet.

    4) I’ve found – correct me if I’m wrong – that much of what people refer to as “50s music” is actually from the early 60s.

    5) I find that most of my very favorite music traces back to Chuck Berry. Which Hall of Famer would he be?

  2. I understand. And I agree that the bedrock basics are not always the best, just that without them there would be nothing to develop. I was thinking strictly of the blues with the Cobb/Speaker thing, but since it’s really the same game let’s call the Chuckster the Cy Young of rocknroll. Little Richard can be Walter Johnson and Elvis can be Babe Ruth.

  3. This is soooooo good and bluesy rootsy. Isn’t the basic idea in literature that there are essentially six plots that have been reworked for the past couple of thousand years (I think Aristotle, the first literary critic even posed this)?

    So, why would music be much different?

    When we were in Long Beach last weekend we went to the community symphony who did some Rossini and Beethoven (our friend Lisa is the principle oboeist there). I used to go to the symphony pretty often, especially as a kid, but in reality, I had not gone since I started seriously playing music and learned how to read a chart.

    I was really surprised at how similar the basic construct (using Beethoven’s Sixth, which they played) as an example, there would be a phrase, a response, a variation, and a response, and then onto a new phrase within an overall theme.

    Kind of like a pop tune blown out to the nth degree,

    But…Gene, Ty Cobb is the J. Edgar Hoover of baseball. I would never compare anyone I liked to him. Maybe Nat Lajoie or Eddy Delahanty but ugh, the Cobb was a racist asshole.

    Now, I have to catch up on my Mekons.

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