Category Archive 'Blues'

24 Apr 2018

Blues from Timbuktu?

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Ali Farka Tour̩ with Ry Cooder РAi Du

Martin Scorsese included Ali Farka Touré in the first episode of his Blues: A Musical Journey documentary, Feel Like Going Home, identifying Touré’s music as the “DNA of the blues.” And Dan Melnik blows a gasket:

[Y]ou wouldn’t refer to Robert Johnson’s music as southern rock and roll, Touré’s music is not desert blues. It’s Malian music with deep roots in the musical culture of his home country.

The music that Touré drew from predates the modern blues by over a thousand years. To equate it with a more familiar, more American style of music is to marginalize it. That comparison robs us of any chance to explore the older musical traditions less familiar to people outside of Africa. …

Touré’s collaborations with Malian griot Toumani Diabaté are more instructive around where his music comes from. Diabaté plays the 21-stringed kora, providing a historical lineage of stringed instrument music in Mali.

So much of Touré’s guitar music is there: the drones, the hypnotic repeating patterns, all of it accented by grandiose flourishes. …

Niafunké, the town in Mali that Touré called home, is in the middle of the landlocked country. The capital Bamako is in the southwest, and farther north and east you get into Saharan Africa. It is a cultural crossroads, something reflected in the many languages of Touré’s music: Songhay, Fulfulde, Tamasheq, and most commonly, Bambara.

In Touré’s electric music you can hear pieces of the Tuareg style that came into popular US consciousness with the rise of the band Tinariwen.


02 Sep 2016

Johnny Cash: Delia’s Gone

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Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

02 Jul 2013

Subterranean Snowden Blues

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WilliamBanzai7 at Zero Hedge:



Snowden’s in the basement
Surfing on the Internet
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the gubmint
The spook in the trench coat
Kicked out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants his mortgage paid off
Ya better look out kid
It was somethin you did
God knows when
But they’ll Google you again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new friend
A man in a coolie cap
In a pawn pen
Wants eleven eleven dollar bills
you only got ten.
Greenie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put
Plants in his bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway
Guardian says that many say
They wanna break it late May
Orders from the NSA are in
You better look out kid
Don’t matter what you say they did
You gonna get hit
You walkin on your tip toes
Don’t try, ‘No Doz’
Stay away from the
suckers with the fiber optic fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.

Hat tip to Jim Harberson.

01 Jan 2013

“St. James Infirmary Blues” in Betty Boop Cartoon

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Cab Calloway provided Koko the Clown’s performance in this early 1930s Betty Boop version of Snow White.

Hat tip to Tessa Helm.

18 Sep 2012

“Why Do You Like Obama?”

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Oscar E. forwarded this excellent Blues song.

21 May 2012

Misissippi Fife and Drum Blues

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The New York Times attends a very special event in rural Mississippi.

Tamke and I are at the annual Otha Turner Family Picnic, a legendary jam session that takes place every summer behind a tumbledown sharecropper’s shack deep in Mississippi’s hill country. The interracial crowd is a few hundred strong and drawn from nearly every stratum of local life — bikers, college kids, workingmen, toughs, gentlemen farmers. And then there are a couple dozen like me: urban cosmopolites eager to hear the deepest roots of the blues. Tamke calls himself “a redneck,” and he’s attacked me because I’m from The New York Times. Shouting into my ear over the music, Tamke makes me his megaphone for what he wants the outside world to know: “Our races have melded together, we share everything,” he says, voice trembling. “We love each other.” He’s squeezing my skull so hard it feels like it might pop, and it’s clear that he’s under the influence of something very powerful. The moonshine or the music, I don’t know. Finally, when it seems something is about to crack — my neck, or Tamke’s tenuous hold on sanity, or both — he lets me go. “It’s sacred,” he says, choking up. “It’s ancient, man.”

“It” is fife and drum, an African take on colonial English marching songs, and one of the oldest forms of distinctly American music, played by the slaves of Jefferson’s Monticello and still played today — by one family, once a year, at this, one of the last of the traditional farm picnics celebrating the end of the growing season.

Hat tip to Tom Weil.

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