flowers dry to fragile black ash,
and birth transitions into death
Is there purpose ?
Is awareness nothing but a point in time ?
Is cycle just a continuum of endings?
Is there an answer to the question of life ?
And is that answer participation ?
The Mumbling Muse is a a group of friends who love the creative arts and who want to share their experiences. What each of us sets down is a personal choice – reflections, reviews, orignial works, essays, opinions, poems, stories, must-reads, show openings, useless clap-trap, what-have-you.
Joey knew that Chicago blues/rock came out of Mississippi during the late forties into the sixties; he knew about this guitar man by the name of Bo Diddley, the self-proclaimed “Father of Rock and Roll” who showed up on the streets with his ego blistering up from his own heat. Well, Bo walked right into one of the producers’ studios on south Michigan Ave.; they let him play on his square guitar and then they threw him and his black hat out the door saying they couldn’t understand him. Joey says Bo walked straight across the street to another studio called Chess Records run by some Jewish fellas and he did 37 takes and recorded a song he wrote called “I’m a Man”
I’m a man, made twenty one
You know baby, we have lots of fun
All you pretty women, stand in line
I’ll make love to you, for an hour’s time
I’m a man, I spell m-a-n …. man!
Bo later wrote a song called 'Mona' and The Rolling Stones covered it on their first album and I’m thinkin they met at Chess?
(Yes, the same Chess Records building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. where Chuck Berry recorded Johnny B. Goode and the Stones, in 1964, recorded their only instrumental and titled it ‘2120’.)
That record company that threw Bo onto the street was right about one thing; you gotta hear the poetry, the story in the song. First comes the verse – you shine a light to it and the words leap off the page and suddenly you see movement – the work now has physical space. It’s square, it’s round, it is red and yellow and morphs to glad and sad then ultimately shows its life as the poetry combines with the essentials of melody, harmony and rhythm to create tones and gives birth to new, until in that moment, never before heard combinations of word and sound, and only then it’s called
m u s i c
I remember ‘Louie, Louie’ reaching #1 and I can’t tell you why – maybe it was because the scene was so dry. Yes, it did have a good beat but you couldn’t understand the Richard Berry lyric as sung first by the Pharoahs, then the Kingsmen - when the song ended, you really didn't know what they had said – they’re worse than Bo!
I know folk music gives a lot to rock and roll but it isn’t their banjos or flat tuned guitars I’m talkin’ about; it’s their stories – their clarity, their meaning, their delivery – allowing repetition to somehow not sound boring. The stories in blues music is the heart rending verse of hard living, telling the story of survival through adversity in a tempo devised by magicians; country and western music’s got a million stories; jazz, not so much new stories as new styles of a story and gospel that shouts out their message in ‘world’ music. All of these are parts of what I’ve come to feel in my bones is so precious to me. Music moves me; it makes me glad all over; it makes me sad all over; love is better with it; hate is erased by it – I can dream with it, as it speaks to my spirit and I can work with it, it is my muse – it’s become one of the themes in my life.
“back beat, you can’t lose it”
It was not far from my ‘hood; straight east on Roosevelt Road, right past St. Ignatius hi-school, about a mile and a half to Halsted Street where a right turn would place you onto the mecca of ‘near west side blues’ –
and the folk on the street gathered ‘round.
Albert King showed up and they jammed and finally they did 'Born Under a Bad Sign'
"bad luck and trouble's my only friend
I been down ever since I was ten
if it wasn't for bad luck
i'd have no luck at all"
Booker T. Jones
I had the musical experience of my young life –
in the open air
it sounded and smelled like my city on the streets of my ‘hood.
It is amazing how the music of these men from Mississippi turned Chicago and Chess Records into legends. As I’ve listened to this music from my ‘hood over the years, I’ve come to realize how much of their original music from Mississippi that was awakened by plugged in guitars and electrified amps and new found freedoms all served as the most fertile roots ever for today’s’ rock and roll. My ‘near west side’ inner city provided cover material for so many great rock musicians: the Stones and Clapton and Zeppelin..............
"glad all over"