Blues? Many dear friends are struggling at this time and my prayers and concern go up and out daily for them. Regardless- and I mean that… there are always things to Thank God for. Sometimes if only focusing our mind on lessons being taught and learned via the hard times. Another sad but grace-sharing reality not lost on me is that blues music (Psalms: “Laments” mind you!!) is itself something I’m thankful about. Music of the soul, prayers sung, statements of truth whether all wish to face or hear it I’m still deeply grateful for. Further, some of the key historians were themselves activists in the best and even biblical sense. One of the two I’m about to mention was very much so.
I also admit I’m gratefully not one to have to deal with depression and am truly sorry for those who journey there in holidays -but this “blues” is about the music form I love, write and play.
In blues music written and even recorded history Paul Oliver and Alan Lomax are unsurpassed giants. The former wrote a series of brilliantly researched books on the musicians and form/s while the latter’s Library of Congress (U.S.) field recordings include both songs and interviews with southern bluesmen and women throughout the Delta. His work extended even to prisoners and church congregations.
Oliver’s (1960) “Blues Fell This Morning” was one of my earliest forays into blues literature several decades ago. His interviews and writ is surely the cream of any white author’s understanding of the subject.
As an ethnomusicologist Lomax was also recording engineer, fan, writer, concert promoter and a musician himself. In the U.S. and eventually the U.K. via study and recorded documentation of varied music styles including the American blues he is without parallel. He is often credited with the last century’s folk and blues music revival in both nations.
While neither bring to table the depth of amazing African-American writers Amiri Baraka (who as LeRoi Jones, authored “Blues People”) or James Baldwin, if you want to begin serious historical study of the blues, these are writers of incredible worth. There are so many more -but now to family, reading and giving Thanks to my Savior.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn