GREAT BEND, Kan. - I love having the blues, blues records that is. Growing up, especially in my high school years I knew I was uncool. My CD case never had Brittany Spears or N*SYNC in it. I tried to like that music, I just never "got it."
I always felt the lyrics were missing something, they were devoid of feeling. The kids singing were too young to understand pain and failure.
Blues music, now that is something I understand. The lyrics are full of pain, torment, passionate love, and a hope for change. The singer sings from the heart, you can feel the song through your entire body, from the tapping of your toes to the nodding of your head. It seems real. I have listened to Sam Cooke's, "A Change is Gonna Come", a million times. I can still feel his emotion in the song; the turmoil of that time period. The fight for civil rights, and breaking from oppression, the passion and devastation he felt. He gets it across.
Louis Armstrong would have never joined a band with four other men, choreographing dance moves. His songs could stand up on their own. He never needed smoke and mirrors or fake body parts to entice people to listen.
Blues, classic country, jazz music is an art. Time is put into each song to get the feeling across with trumpets, saxophones and guitars. Real instruments are used, not computer synthesized productions of today.
Many older songs instill historical elements into them. Woody Guthrie often sang of the dust bowl blues, Willie Nelson sang about Pancho Villa. I understand better what those times were like hearing the admiration, love, and pain in their voices. A history text book could never elicit that emotion, and understanding of the time to its audience. We are loosing that in pop music, the human element, the connection with history and our world.
In my younger years I wrapped myself up in old music. Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Senior. I always wished to travel back to the time period when "real" music was hopping. As I have gotten older I have realized great music is still pumping through our country, we just have to search for it.
My first trip to Kansas City, I insisted on visiting 18th and Vine. I am so glad I did. I saw several fantastic performances. It was at this point I realized my generation has it better than any other. Even if pop music is the most mainstream music, we have so many genres to choose from, blues, country, rock and folk. We have the best of the last one hundred years at our fingertips. I can play a vinyl record from Don McLean, and then turn on my computer to listen to Langhorne Slim. There are so many great artists today the musical possibilities are endless. We won't hear them on the radio, but that's okay, less people fill these artists' concert seats.
New Orleans and Kansas City are two of my favorite places to visit. New Orleans has jazz pouring through the streets. The artists are amazing. They play new jazz tunes, and some of their own jazz/blues creations. My last trip to New Orleans I listened to one of the best bands I have ever heard. They sold vinyl records, I was in heaven. I believe everything sounds better on vinyl.
There is always something significant about connecting with someone who listens to the same music. When you meet it is almost as if you understand each other. I have honestly never met a Dylan fan I didn't like. You can tell a lot about a person from the type of music they listen to.
Like anything society changes and bends. Pop music is around today, but the scene is changing. Artists like Keb Mo, The Black Keys, Terra Naomi, Ani Difranco, and Jack Johnson have broken out. Their concerts are filled. Even Bonnie Raitt, one of my favorite blues singers, sang at the music festival Bonnarro, which is geared toward the youth. Although I am glad to share these great artists with others, it is sad to see them become well known. They were a secret little gem in my computer memory, and I felt as if no one else in the world had ever heard their songs but me.
There will always be good music flowing through America. Unfortunately there will always be pointless dribble. Music the "artist" throws together for some fast cash. I feel lucky to live in a time when I have a hundred years of great music to choose from, and a hundred different ways to listen to it!