Tuesday, May 11, 2010

goin' to brownsville

forty years ago i sat on a plane
- a b.o.a.c. boeing 707 -
and put on a tiny pair of earphones to skim through the six channels of music.

on one channel my ears were caught and dragged under by a piece of music that i hadn't heard before.
i kept circling back to it.
over and over.
the way a piece of music
that's meant for your ears does.

that it was the blues was undeniable.
i didn't listen to the blues that much
but i knew enough from my exposure to rock and jazz to recognize it for what it was.

the lyrics stayed in my head for forty years
- "i'm goin' to brownsville, gonna take that right hand road"-
i'd be in the middle of all sorts of activities
in all sorts of places
and those words would sing their way into my mind's ears.

at one point i spent time trying to find the source of the lyrics.
i had no idea who the musician was,
what the song was,
nothing.

then,
as is the way with these things
i woke up this morning,
hauled up youtube on the macbook
and there it was.

so here it is.


do you remember what it felt like when you first discovered that
people were that good, that cool, that talented, that present and inside their craft.

29 comments:

Joanna said...

Don't you just love it when that happens? I experienced something similar last year with an old Donovan song that I couldn't get out of my head. Ry Cooder is such a fabulous musician and so versatile, both as a blues singer and guitar player. I liked seeing him as a young man.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Love the clip of Ry Cooder. I did not know that he was so blues and folk rooted when he began. Many years after that performance, he is still opening our ears and eyes to great music, as seen in the Buenavista Social Club record and film. I will forever appreciate him for the huge service that initiative did in helping the outside world come to know such great Cuban musicians as Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Cachao and so many others.

jinksy said...

Goodness, this shot me back in time! I've actualy got an old record of Leadbelly (mentioned in your video) and remember one of my fellow art students in th 60's who used play these blues type numbers...Thanks, Steven!

Barry said...

I see Ry Cooder was ranked 8th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". I can easily believe it.

Terrific piece Steven.

steven said...

joanna - i absolutely love that! it's like coming across a book you'd forgotten or a playground game. steven

steven said...

hi lorenzo - the buenavista recordings are among my favourite. i love music that is real, passionate, and carries the listener beyond the place. steven

steven said...

jinksy - i started listening to blues in earnest after i heard this piece of music. now they are a part of the grand lexicon of music that i enjoy. have a lovely day. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

I can't remember a time when I didn't know that people are good, cool, talented, etc. My parents loved the arts so we listened, looked and heard stories all our lives.

Yep. I have been lucky. And yeah, it is always a revelation to discover yet another work of art. Thanks for this!!

willow said...

Those things do have a way of popping up out of our brain files like that. Love it when it happens.

(you've gotta come read what Lorenzo said in my comments this morning...heehee)

Golden West said...

I just watched a great documentary about 3 guitarists - Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, called "It Might Get Loud". Check it out if you get a chance.

Valerianna said...

Thanks!! Love it. Love Ry Cooder.... brings me back to my hippie days of college - in the wilds of Maine... and bluegrass festivals in Montana. Love how music just takes me......

Loren said...

Boy does that bring up old memories. I fell in love with John Lee Hooker the same way in high school.

When my best friend heard the record he pronounced it "boring" because it "all sounded the same."

Music has never sounded the same for me since.

Friko said...

Yes I do, now you've reminded me. What happened to all that enthusiasm, that awe, that getting deep into things.
Reckon it's age, steven. For me, definitely.

Steven, I have just very recently started another blog, just poetry and pictures. Friko's Poetry and Pictures, the link is in my sidebar.
It's the sort of thing I think you might like too, not just long dead, white, long-winded poets, but mystics, women, modern(ish) poetry, from all over the globe. If you have the time and inclination, have a look, please.
You'd also be just the sort of blogger whom I'd love to have as an occasional guest on this blog. It's all meant to be very self-indulgent

Linda Sue said...

Ry- that is some wicked playing! Love the blues- it can be ANYTHING- and nothing- predictable and surprising.Like a jigsaw puzzle- this life...you just found a corner piece!

steven said...

barry - i haven't followed his career closely enough to offer an opinion. i love what i hear and i especially admire his work with the cuban musicians. steven

steven said...

reya - i didn't start to really see and know the creative world 'till i was in my early teens. i don't know why - i had lots of exposure to the arts in a sort of circumscribed way when i was younger but i really got to have a sense of the goodness of some musicians and writers and artists and the ride was on - and continues!!! thank goodness. steven

steven said...

willow - i love those magical confluences also. i also appreciated lorenzo's comment!!! steven

steven said...

golden west - believe it or not - i already did!!!! awesome and good fun. steven

steven said...

valerianna - i like the way you write that - "just takes me". because it does all of that and more. backwards, forwards, inside, outside and then also . . . beyond. steven

steven said...

loren - after this i was drawn immediately to sonny terry and brownie mcgee. then on into leadbelly, blind lemon jefferson and a whole pile of delta blues and then back out through hendrix and early zeppelin into the entire spectrum of music. steven

steven said...

hey friko, thanks for the invitiation. it's thoughtful and generous. i'll be over. steven

steven said...

linda sue - nice - "a corner piece" mmmm hmmm . . .there are pieces of music that fit into the jigsaw of my life like that. they tell the way to the other pieces and hold the whole together. steven

Meri said...

How amazing that you found something that resonated so sharply so long ago.

steven said...

meri there's that also - how and why does something like that reappear after that long?!!! steven

Butternut Squash said...

Marvelous. I'm so glad that you shared this. I have never seen it before. His picking is incredible, but I really love the rythm he keeps with his feet. It makes your heart thump.

steven said...

hey butternut! it's so nice that the mike is able to pick up those big earthy boots stomping the bottom end of this song out!!! steven

Delwyn said...

Hi Steven I called my beloved to listen while I cooked the curry for dinner...he loved it...

Happy days

steven said...

hey delwyn - that's very nice of you to share!!! i had it on last night while i cooked curry for dinner!!! steven

Helen said...

YES!!
And it was Bruce Springsteen!