general opinion on blues

A discussion of the blues for blues lovers and fans.

general opinion on blues

Postby farmaz » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:01 pm

when i talk of the blues to my family/mates etc they seem to hold a odd view on the music. my mates (well the ones that dont like blues as i'm alot younger than most on here & came from a rave background before i heard muddy waters/charley patton etc) they think its "black music/old music" they seem to range from total dislike of it like my mom who hates it, she says charley patton is moaning like his in pain, to a kinda puzzled look on there face as to the style of the music. my mates think its crap & its just old men moaning how terrible life is etc.

these views baffle my head tbh, as i said before i used to listen to jungle/drum and bass/techno which i do some of the time still but i find old delta music has a real feeling to it, say sonhouse you can hear the hardship his went through coming through in the music, there is only 1 album that has moved me to such a emonational level before i heard blind willie johnson/fred mcdowell which was Nirvana's unplugged in new york, for some reason the fred mcdowell lp "london calling" when i first heard it, it TOTALLY blew my head, the vibe off the tunes is so heartfelt & soufull i played that lp a few times a day every single day for months, i was more hooked to his tunes than a hooker is to crack. But the people i know bar about 4 of them who have the same feeling towards delta music as me think its crap.

anyone else noticed this too?.....how people cant be hooked right away when you hear blind willie johnson on dark was the night it's coming from a place that very few people these days go to in there music, to my ears its allmost "holy" in the way he does the music, its coming from his very soul imo yet most people dont even think its ok let alone amazing tunes. i REALLY DONT GET HOW PEOPLE ARE NOT MOVED IN THERE VERY SOUL by this music tbh, i guess they like The X factor/britains got talent more than blind willie mctell which imo is crazy.

anyone else noticed that most people dont rate this great style of music at all. i know it aint due to age etc or location in time/earth as i can kinda relate to Patton etc in some kinda way even though were of diffrent races/place in time/social conditions etc, i never worked on a Levee or been to a juke joint yet i feel his music deep in side me, i shed a few tears of emonitional joy on hearing the tunes red cross store/louise by mcdowell which is RARE tbh.

anyone else noticed a allmost hatered of blues by people who dont like it?.................. :blink: :?: :?: :blink:
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby JakeyVimto » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:31 pm

Hey farmaz, I kinda agree with you about a lot of people dismissing or not being willing to listen to old blues music. I just turned 30, my background was rock music and clubbing a bit.

But I dont think its because people have crap taste or have been suckered by Simon Cowell and his anodyne, heartless bullshit. I've always found blues can be a little inaccessable if your tastes dont run that way. It can appear repetitive, disorientating and weird. Maybe we love it because we dig that, and the guys you are talking about are uncompromising and deep.

There are some guys I struggle to listen to too long myself, and I love old blues tunes. But for me, 10-15 minutes of Blind Lemon Jefferson is about enough, then I have to chuck on hound dog taylor or something.

Bottom line, I believe these days people cannot be moved by music unless they let in and give it a chance. I'm pretty sure I turned my nose up at a lot of good musicians earlier in my life, maybe in my stone roses phase or my grunge years, because my idea of great music was defined by the bands I already loved. For me, it was picking up a harmonica that started me getting dragged into blues. Youve had your damascus moment too.

Maybe we are the lucky ones. Maybe some folk never get a lucky break that lets them appreciate the blues.

Im sure jazz fans feel that way about their heros and believe me, I just dont understand jazz. At all. Maybe one day....

j
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:36 pm

Blues is a simpler form of music than many other genres,imo, and therein lies the problem for many musicians. The groove or vibe isn't enough for them. Guys who played rock guitar in the 80's, when playing 2 cazillion notes became popular, find blues boring, and the same with the bass players. Alotta rock bassists can't stand playin' blues; they don't get the fine points of it. And for rock drummers, it can be frustrating for 'em when they've gotten away with wailing away on the heads, often without great technique, and then they find out they can't play a decent shuffle to save their ass. Most of us enjoy the things we're good at, and vice versa. As for listeners, they don't get much blues on the radio or MTV,etc., so they don't develop the taste. My wife didn't get the blues for years, but after bein' around me for 25 years now, she's developed a healthy appreciation for it (in spite of my playin', lol?). As an aside, I think if you play too many slow blues tunes for an audience, it can have the same effect as playin' too many slow dance tunes at a bar gig: it runs your crowd out the door.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby Slim » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:38 pm

Basically you need new friends with better musical tastes! LOL! Really, down here in the south alot of folks like country and newer music but alot of people young people included dig the blues. The RL burnside stuff from Fat Possum helped solidify hill country blues with the college crowd. Really, though, I am a deadhead and none of my friends could stand the Dead when I was growing up. I found like minded people and they became great friends. Luckily where i live in New Orleans most folks love all kinds of music. They just like music.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:17 pm

Nuttin' wrong with bein' an ol' Deadhead, imo. Our jam bunch plays alotta old Dead, and I love it. It's back to the issue of acquiring a taste for anything. I've discovered that you can gain appreciation for a tune by actually PLAYING it. Our jam bunch is constantly comin' up with old tunes that I've heard a million times but never played before, and then after I figure out how to play it- on boards or harp- I gain an appreciation for it. I'll give a corny example: "The Birthday Song" by the Beatles, for cryin' out loud. I always looked at it as a trite pop tune until we learned it one time to sing for our rhythm player at a gig we did (duh, it was his birthday). I found out the tune cooks along like a cat on fire. I enjoy playin' it now. But, most of us like to stay in our comfort zones.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby BigT » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:45 pm

The perception of Blues appreciation as anachronism / eccentricity would in my opinion be a common condition. The guitarist in the Balkan band I'm in at the moment made a throw away comment at our last practice when we were talkiing about playing some Celtic tunes - he said they were kind of of repetitive, like Blues, which "everybody plays". From his perspective (of a musician with a general understanding of the 12 bar structure) he is obviously unaware of the variety of structures / textures / styles within the Blues canon. I can understand this because we are exposed to "bluesy" music in a range of media - most notable film scores, which can be cliched - many people would associate blues with rambling extended soloing which is often interchangeable with porn film soundtracks (not that this is a specific interest of mine). This distorts the truth that within the Blues there are numerous examples of well constructed songs, with spare lyrics that get to the heart of the matter that the writer is trying to express, efficiently and with powerful emotional impact. That said, the blues covers all situations from party music through to hair raising spiritual turmoil. What am I getting at ? There are reasons why there is varying perception and appreciation of blues - unless you have had that initial connection and have actively immersed yourself in Blues (or any music / art / literature) it is not possible to develop more than a passing interest (or disinterest) in the form.

Bottom line is, you either like the music or not. I know I don't play or listen to Blues because of what other people think or like.

Tony
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby maxx england » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:42 am

As a small child, I would hear the BBC Light Programme and the popular tunes of the day, and even at that age , or perhaps because kids have different and more accurate perceptions sometimes, I would understand that when someone was singing a song, they were simply lying. The tone or phrasing or whatever, I could hear the falseness in their voices; and now I can take on board more music, but it needs (and this is regardless of type) to have an honesty and emotional depth and direction for me to enjoy it.

Anybody ever sat down and listened to Mars from Holst's Planets Suite? I can't do it these days, too many images about war and heroism and the stupid tragedy of it all come to me. It ain't blues, but it presses the buttons really, really, hard.

I think most people are badly educated about their music, or they don't have a cultural upbringing where they actually sit and listen to what's playing, or they don't have the same cerebral architecture as us. Another thought is that there's perhaps an emotional cowardice where somebody won't want to address the very genuine feelings the music arouses.

Slow stuff might calm an audience down, but just watch a pub/bar/party light up when you play the good rockin' stuff. All of a sudden, you grab hold of their spines, and they have no choice in it, they dance.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby ricochet » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:26 pm

maxx england wrote:Anybody ever sat down and listened to Mars from Holst's Planets Suite? I can't do it these days, too many images about war and heroism and the stupid tragedy of it all come to me. It ain't blues, but it presses the buttons really, really, hard.

Yeah, but that's played by an orchestra of instrumentalists playing from notes on paper. Are they better liars than the singers you heard? :wink:

Holst's Mars just popped up in a thread on "Creepy Classical Music" over on Guitar Noise.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby maxx england » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:42 am

Ithink Holst gets the credit there, if the dot readers are doing their job properly, then his vision is what you get.

If you think about it, any song repeated and rehearsed, one or many players ends up being an arrangement, so the reading of dots or just knowing where it goes from the feel is irrelevant; if the concept is right, and the players do it the best way they know how, that's what matters. Classical conductors are a closed book to me, but you've got a hell of a gift if you can get 100 players working together and going for it all at the same time.

Creepy music? No, not to me, shattering and humbling is what it is. Just thinking about it, I get a video of old b & w images, no play acting, no special effects or stunts, real men running forward and then just falling down, B17s in flames, fighters in the sights falling apart in mid air. Sad stuff and bad stuff, more people should know about this, maybe Christmas would have more meaning to them.

That's what the blues is, you play it, you mean it, and the reason a lot of people don't get it is because it's not convenient, pre packed and sterilised and they just don't have any wider view than "industry product"..
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby ricochet » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:05 pm

I agree, anything you've rehearsed becomes an arrangement. I was doing a bit of chain pulling about the "liars" part. That's a singer who's not doing a good job of presenting the piece.

The conversation on the othr place about Mars ,ade the point that it's not creepy, but powerful. It was pointed out that it's the prototype for the Star Wars Imperial March.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby LesFromChicago » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:42 pm

Back in the 1960s most of my friends had a respect for the blues but they did not like the blues. When I played my music they would say "That's sounds like what my grandfather used to like". They thought of the blues as a respected part of their cultural past, but as too antiquated or too country for them to like. The old people on Chicago's westside who were from the country (Mississppi, Arkansas, a few from Louisiana or Texas), they were proud of being country, but the youngsters preferred to separate themselves from what they considered country. A notable exception were the most recent immigrants form the South, they worked hard all week and when they went to a club to spend their hard-earned money they wanted to hear some BLUES. Back in those days, just a moment so to speak before the emergence of the guitar virtuoso syndrome, the blues in the clubs was country blues, no matter how amplified or accompanied by saxophones, it was still basically the same country blues. That was in Chicago. It was quite different in southwest Michigan, Cassopolis and Dowagiac, there were lots of families from Mississippi who migrated to the southwest Michigan countryside instead of to Chicago, and those people young and old LOVED the country-fried Delta and Hill Country blues, One time I was playing at an informal gathering in my friend's home, and there were multiple conversations going on at once, it seemd like nobody was listening to me play and sing, but whenever I stopped to take a rest somebody would say, "Oh, don't stop". Now that was from teeenagers! The only ones who didn't like the blues were those who objected on religious piety grounds.

Now these days I often get a quite contrary reaction. I find people I expect to know nothing about the blues or to dislike the blues, sometimes 2 or 3 of them will come up to me afterwards and say how they love that old blues sound, ususaly when that happens it is sometime sort of old like me or at least aorund 50 years old.

Well I have edited this post about 4 times now. I guess I will leave it as it is now.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby allanlummox » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:59 pm

People who don't like the blues...usually don't wind up talking to me.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby LesFromChicago » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:08 pm

allanlummox wrote:People who don't like the blues...usually don't wind up talking to me.

Maybe it's the hat. I got one like that too.
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby howlnwoof » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:43 am

When I run into people who give me that "I don't like the blues crap" I will usually go about converting them the same way I figured it out . Ask them do they like ZZ Top or Zeppelin or Clapton or the Stones or Foghat or AC/DC . They immediately say yes ... but what does that have to do with the blues ? Then I play them some Jimmy Thackery or Tommy Castro along with some Thorogood and maybe Rory Gallagher (which they all will recognize as great "rock" music ) then ease them into Magic Slim (between rock guitar and the Muddy thing) a little Buddy and maybe Otis Rush . Once they become acclimated , the John Lee Hooker / Chess records thing happens ..... mixing in just a taste of Elmore James , which sparks a reference back to Thorogood . Now the bulb is starting to light up ! Then you can start throwing in some early delta stuff ..... working your way back to Patton and House and Johnson (all of them) and Jefferson .
I find that about the only old time stuff that you can try early on is either Mississippi John Hurt or Furry Lewis ..... and surprisingly , a lot of my friends caught onto Robert Wilkins right away . Patton or Jefferson or Blind Willie Johnson are not usually good places to introduce non blues persons ....... too many people find that hard to listen to , unless they discover and appreciate it in a historical context .....
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Re: general opinion on blues

Postby stumblin » Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:58 pm

Opinions are like arseholes, everyone's got one.
Ironically, a huge percentage of the people you meet with opinions actually turn out to be arseholes.
Amongst the most irritating things people say about the blues include: it's depressing, you make it up as you go along, you can't sing blues unless you're black, it's all the same, etc.
A sarcastic/polite invitation to share their obviously deep expertise in the subject usually shuts up hecklers.
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