April 29 – Feeding My Music Habit During Quarantine, Pt. 1

Hi folks. How’s everyone holding up these days? Keeping busy with the extra time? Going stir-crazy? I’ve had difficulty maintaining my motivation to blog, but I think about it and my general theme pretty much daily. Today I thought I’d check in and share my music listening and learning activities from the past couple of months with the extra time I’ve had on my hands. Thanks to hanspostcard for the nudge.

I’m typically a homebody, so I really don’t mind spending a bit more time at the shack. However, the month of May was shaping up to be possibly the biggest singular month for attending live shows in my lifetime. On tap was a club show by the Jayhawks next week which has been rescheduled for December, then late in the month I have tickets for the James Taylor/Jackson Browne show in Ft. Worth followed a few days later by the Rolling Stones in Dallas. Thankfully they will also be rescheduled. Hopefully.

James Taylor Announces US Spring Tour With Jackson Browne

A few months back an acquaintance turned me on to abe.com. If you like to read and don’t mind used books, this is a great resource. It’s been a revelation for me, especially since my my ritual of visiting Half Price Books and Records once a week came to an abrupt if temporary end. You can find good titles at dirt cheap prices, often with no shipping cost. I’ve consistently maintained a “yet to read” stack of three to five books as a result. The following is an overview of the various music rabbit holes I’ve been exploring recently through CD’s, books, and video as I’ve taken a bit of a detour from my usual topic of 50th anniversaries of album releases. I suppose if there’s one binding theme in them, it’s American roots music and culture.

I’d imagine most fans of rock-n-roll are at least somewhat familiar with the influence of blues and folk music from the South, especially the Mississippi Delta. But beyond a cursory knowledge and owning a few albums by Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins and other contemporaries of theirs, I decided it was way past time to read a little more in depth about early blues music. I did a search of the more highly regarded books and decided on three for now, all of which cover different aspects of the blues. I’ve provided links for further information at the bottom of this post.

Muddy Waters – At Newport (1960) | Blues music, Muddy waters ...

In The Land Where the Blues Began (1970), American ethnomusicologist/folklorist Alan Lomax wrote of his field studies in the Delta region in the 1930’s and 40’s in a lengthy project underwritten by the Library of Congress. In it he shares stories of having to gain permission from local sheriffs, wardens, and plantation owners to speak to the local black musicians, preachers, laborers, and prisoners at the levee camps, prisons, churches, juke joints, etc. about their experiences which formed their world, and thus their music. Lomax also directed an hour long documentary of the same title in 1979, a rough copy of which can currently be found on YouTube.

The Land Where the Blues Began: Lomax, Alan: 9781565847392: Amazon ...

Paul Oliver’s The Blues Fell This Morning (1960) is one of the earliest accounts of what is actually meant by the lyrics and themes of blues songs, which he sourced from his his vast collection of 78 rpm “race records,” many quite obscure, dating back to the 1920’s. Oliver was a white British historian who hadn’t even set foot in America when he published this book, but his credentials were bolstered by the famous African American writer Richard Wright, who contributed the forward. To me, these latter aspects make the book itself historical and interesting. Rounding out my Blues Education 101 trilogy is Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues (1982), which arrived in my mailbox yesterday afternoon, beautifully mangled by its previous owner(s) (That really isn’t a complaint – it cost maybe $3). I anticipate this book to be an account of the actual musicians from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. and the migration of musicians and music from the Deep South to the northern industrial centers, especially Chicago.

Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues: Paul Oliver ...      Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi ...

I suppose in a positive development in terms of my impulse to write, I’m going to cut this short and break it up into one or two more entries lest I ramble on a little too long. Thanks for stopping by.







13 thoughts on “April 29 – Feeding My Music Habit During Quarantine, Pt. 1”

  1. Hey Stephen,

    So nice seeing a new post from you! Hope you and your family are well.

    It really does feel like the world has completely changed over just the past few months. And, yep, it obviously impacts music big time, especially concerts.

    With James Taylor/Jackson Browne and The Rolling Stones, you definitely had some biggies lined up. But luckily it sounds like these shows will be rescheduled, not canceled.

    In my case, concerts by The Temptations & The Four Tops and Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band have already been rescheduled for next year. Steely Dan & Steve Winwood are still on for July 10, though I suspect that show will be rescheduled as well. Frankly, I kind of hope it will, since I doubt the time will be right for large crowd gatherings in New Jersey.

    Your music book reading habit is nice, and these particular books about the blues sound interesting.

    While I haven’t experienced lack of motivation to blog, I’ve had more than one occasion where I felt I had run out of ideas. After experiencing some initial anxiety over writer’s block, I was able to remind myself that blogging is supposed to be fun rather than something stress-inducing I should force myself to do. As such, I concluded it’s okay not to post.

    In fact, since I started my blog, most of the stuff I write about is spontaneous and oftentimes a reaction to music I come across. I hardly do any planning ahead.

    I’m not necessarily saying that being spontaneous is the best approach. But so far, it has worked pretty well for me.

    Again, nice to see you’re back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christian. I agree, spontaneity and fun are, for many of us anyway, important elements of blogging. I wasn’t even planning on writing today, but I realized in mid-sentence of my current book that I had quite a bit to share from recent months, 50th album anniversaries aside. Next thing I knew I realized I need to spread it out over two or three posts just to get it all out whether it’s interesting or not. I appreciate your encouragement.

      I really need to see Ringo’s show. I’m almost embarrassed I haven’t, though his band in years past was more interesting overall than who he’s had on recent tours. I watched Clapton’s tribute to Ginger Baker the other night and of course Winwood was there, and man does he still sound great. Somehow he was the opener for Petty/Heartbreakers when I saw them in, I think, 2015. I’d love to see him again with the Dan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, it looks the second and sadly last time I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also was with Steve Winwood as opening act. It was during the “Hypnotic Eye Tour” in September 2014. I just checked it on Setlist.fm. Both Petty and Winwood were outstanding.

        I saw Winwood again in March 2018 during his “Greatest Hits Tour.” Again, he delivered a great performance. His voice is still strong and when he gets that Hammond roaring it’s just fantastic. He’s also a pretty good guitarist!

        I’m also a huge Steely Dan fan, so when I saw they are touring with Winwood this year, I couldn’t resist buying a ticket.

        While I’ve never been to Paul McCartney twice, I’ve yet to see Ringo, which is a bit sad as a huge Beatles fan. The man is turning 80 this July, so I figured it’s about time! By next June, which is when they rescheduled the gig, he is going to be close to 81 – knock on wood!

        James Taylor and Jackson Browne should be a great show. I saw Browne in May 2018 and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen James Taylor. I wish he’d team up one more time with Carole King. But she’s basically retired, so that’s not going to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome back! Enjoy your books. Like you I am missing my weekly runs to Half Price Books— and the Barnes and Noble a stones throw away from there. You are right there are some good finds to be had if you don’t mind used books. I have read two of the of the ones you featured- the Lomax and Palmer ones. Hopefully the concerts get back in line. There are three I want to go to in June but 1- will they be cancelled? and 2- if they are on- do I feel like it is safe enough to go? A strange time. Those two you have lined up sound pretty good- Taylor and Browne together! Have you seen The Stones before? Don’t be a stranger! Keep safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there! I finished the Lomax and Oliver books. I’m working through Greil Marcus’s breakdown of the Basement Tapes at the moment. I have seen Jackson Browne but not James Taylor, so that’s a fantastic twin bill in my book. We saw the Stones whenever they came through last, 2015 maybe? It was out at the dome where the Cowboys play, so the acoustics were horrible and we were a mile away. I didn’t care though. I knew what to expect, and I just wanted to be in the same building with them once. This time however, they’re playing outdoors at the Cotton Bowl, the size of which seems like a night club compared to Jerry World. And, making it really special, we’re taking my two college-age sons (whenever it ends up happening). Thanks for checking in!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve not read that one. This is actually my second attempt at Invisible Republic (I also like the other title it goes by, Old Weird America). The first time through I was looking for a narrative more focused on Dylan and the Band at Big Pink as opposed to all the breakdown of Harry Smith’s Anthology and how it influenced Dylan. This time around I knew what to expect, and it fits in perfectly with the other books I’ve been reading. I’ve seen Mystery Train, so I’ll give it a closer look. Thanks for the recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think there is a new edition of Mystery Train out- with photos. I have a few past editions will probably skip out on the new edition but I haven’t seen it yet though. It’s a great read.. I was like you on Invisible Republic- it took me a while after buying it to get into it. Hope you enjoy! That is a great title- Old Weird America. I think that sums up what Bob and The Band were doing back then-the music seems from a different time. … Oh one other thing about Mystery Train- it will get you into a lot of different music- a great discography at the back of the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That Stones show should be awesome! I saw them for the second time last August, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, also a ginormous venue. And while I have to admit Keith Richards and Charlie Watts looked frail, the band still sounded great. Mick was killing it only a few months after his heart valve replacement surgery – incredible! Ronnie Wood was in pretty good shape as well!

        Liked by 1 person

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