Monday, July 02, 2007

Musical Thoughts - Blues

Blues music elicits either love or hate. Funny it does that. I suppose many music genres have that same sort of following. Those that love it and those that hate it. I find it interesting that some of those that proclaim to hate it, love all the derivatives of it - r & b, soul, gospel, rock-n-roll, even country (go back and listen to some old country and old blues).

I am also puzzled by the fact that so many african americans want nothing to do with the music. They seem to feel that if it is not "jazz", then it is not worth listening to. I think, somehow, that jazz has become affiliated with someone being somehow more sophisticated. While the blues, in the african american community, have been relegated to the uneducated, "country" ignorant folks. I see all these people proclaiming jazz as the real deal when, in fact, they are listening to nothing more than jazzified elevator music. Real jazz has soul, feeling and emotion. That watered down crap is just that...watered down so a whole society can somehow feel more sophisticated. These are the same folks who insist on driving a classy car, only owning designer duds, purses and shoes and are just perpetrating sophistication and wealth. I can buy all that, but it does not make me a more sophisticated person now does it?

The blues are the most emotion filled, gut wrenching, hilarious and sad commentary on society. I "pity the fool" who misses out on experiencing this music. Ok, that was my rant.


Al E. Yus said...

I find it interesting so many of us draw distinctions between "real deal jazz" and "jazzified elevator music." Such distinctions are nebulous at best. Are Albert Ayler's dissonant squawks 'real' jazz? Does Wynton Marsalis play elevator music? Outside of Charlie Parker, Monk and Coltrane, jazz is hard to pin down or define.

Blues is not. It's pretty basic stuff. You can draw distinctions between 'city' and 'country' blues, but these are mainly differences in instrumentation. Blues are blues and we know it when we hear it. Personally I prefer stripped down blues with minimal accompaniment to big city, full production, electrified blues. But that's just me.

Sometimes I want hear music that's basic and raw. Blues fills that bill (as does some rock). Sometimes I want to hear music I can stretch my ears around. Good jazz does that for me, as do more experimental forms of classical and music that defies any categorization. If jazz is seen as more sophisticated, it's because the listener has to use a different part of his/her brain to appreciate it. As opposed to blues, which, as you say, wrenches your gut.

It's all music. Whatever form it takes, the good stuff moves you and mediocre slides right off. It's as it should be.

Deb said...

Good point. I just do not get the whole point of dissing blues because you feel it is "not sophisticated and for ignorant folks" - that grates me. I think music is music and it is not put out there for a person based on their economic status - know what I mean? To not want to listen to a particular style of music because it does nothing for you is fine, but to avoid it because you think it is "low class" seems pretty narrow minded, right?

That was my point... and the jazz I am referring to is that synsethized muzak stuff... which most folks rarely find "good". :-)

Al E. Yus said...

I guess you're in a better position than I am to be on the receiving end of negative comments about the blues. I've never heard anyone call the blues low class, but I'm sure it happens. I'd call those people elitist and be done with them.

The blues are universal. They're never low class, but they might well be low down. The lower down they go, the closer to the roots they get.