Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grinnin' In Your face

Driving to work yesterday listening to Son House.

Son House was an old blues dude. Old blues dude is my affectionate term for the true originals, the ballsy men and women who blazed a trail for all blues musicians to follow. The people who decided that in a viciously racist society, they could make a living singing their music their way, no compromise.


Son House lived from 1902 to 1988. I won't get too deep into blues history here because you probably don't give a shit, but I do need to impress upon you the major influence Son House had on the blues.

A lot of people go right to Robert Johnson when they dig for the roots of the blues. He lived from 1911 to 1938; a short life steeped in legend. He is THE guy who is storied to have gone down to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil, selling his soul for the privilege of gaining fame and fortune through the blues.

He died young, supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband.

He recorded only 29 songs in his life; they are considered to be a definitive blues statement for that time.

Eric Clapton called him the most important blues singer that ever lived.

Son House inspired and influenced Robert Johnson.

Along with Charlie Patton, Son House is one of only two or three people who are considered to be the true pioneers of the blues, the original giants.

People who came along before Robert Johnson.

Back to 2016. I'm listening to Son House and "Grinnin' In Your Face" cranks up.

Timeless lyrics, which I will paraphrase.

"Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face, you just bear this in mind, a true friend is hard to find; you know your mother would talk about you, your own sisters and your brothers too, they just don't care how you're tryin' to live, they'll talk about you still; you know they'll jump you up and down, they'll carry you all 'round and 'round, just as soon as your back is turned, they'll be tryin' to crush you down."

I talk about this all the time, how people are just goddamn cruel to each other and how I don't understand it.

How you can go all the way back to the origins of mankind and the story will be the same.

But somehow when you hear it in a blues lyric, when you hear it within the context of blues music, somehow the message goes right to your heart.

When it comes from one of the giants in the entire history of the blues , it should occur to you that you really have an obligation to listen.

And to reflect.

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