Saturday, July 7, 2018

Music is HIstory. PBS show on North American Music

This was the episode I watched
Richard Mellor

Just wanted to point to the importance of history in music. Music is no different than a book or transcript, and when we talk about music before its written form its one of the oldest forms of preserving social history.

I was just watching, an episode of American Epic on PBS. It appears to be a music history, American, as in USA music of course. It had the inventor of the laptop steel slide and how this began in Hawaii and Cajun music, Hank Williams Jr. and country among others. I just saw in the "folk" section, Mississippi John Hurt. I have known of and listened to Mississippi John Hurt since my early teens back in England.

One of my best friends since my youth is as much an expert on this genre as those officially recognized as such. You know it's like "People made coats from time immemorial before there arose such a profession as Tailor."

I was no big folk fan early on but Hurt still had that element of a more raw blues to him. Was he a transition line between blues, jazz and folk. I really don't know and wonder how those who have studied music history would describe him.

Make Me a Pallet was a popular one with us. Jo Anne Kelly who was dubbed the Queen of British Blues, covered it and was a well respected native representative of this music.

I always thought or felt that John Hurt was a gentle, sweet man; he just gave that impression. I recall an album with him sitting by a fence and I looked at his hands, workers hands, hard workers hands. I cursed myself for making excuses why I wasn't a guitar player, excuses like, "I've got stubby workers fingers." Damn it wasn't because I didn't have slender graceful hands like a lawyer or John Williams why I couldn't play the guitar, maybe it was something else, like----not practicing.

At the end of the segment there was a short interview with him at some festival. And he was exactly how I imagined, an honest musical genius. An old friend ended by saying exactly what I thought, that he was a kind sweet man and that we could "do with more of him." I went to get an image of him and found this section of a BBC documentary on You Tube. I've never seen it, it's nice. 

You see, television is a good thing. The problem is that the working class, the largest group of people in society don't own it. It is owned by a tiny minority in society for the sole purpose of selling commodities and convincing people they need them whether they do or not. Television is a key instrument in ensuring that the capitalist class, the minority in society, keep their hands at the helm..

America Epic was on KQED in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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