Friday, 12 August 2011

About The Blues

John Lennon famously said "before Elvis there was nothing."  But as far as I was concerned before John Lennon there was nothing.  For a long time anyway.

When Muddy Waters sang "the blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll," to me, that was just some old guy trying to stay relevant.  For years, I just didn't get it.  I got that Cream and Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull were doing all these great blues covers, but all I was hearing was Cream and Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull.  To me they were just covers.  Even when my idols brought their idols Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf over to London to record, I didn't get it. I thought they were just being nice to these old guys.

Years later, I finally went back and started to listen.  And I got it.

What's not to get?  A hypnotizing groove, raw sexual energy, guitar virtuousity, betrayal, heartbreak, injustice, standing alone against the world.  How had I missed all that?  Wow!

Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, BB King  ...  they may not have shaped my world as directly as Lennon, McCartney, Clapton or Page, but in the end their influence was even bigger.  First they influenced me indirectly through my idols.  Then they touched me directly.

And it turns out there was plenty before Lennon, plenty before Elvis.  It just keeps going back:  Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Son House, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson ...  there is no beginning.

Hopefully there will be no end.

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