Down to the top 6. Those who have been subscribed to Vinyl Me, Please for awhile know the feeling. It doesn’t happen every month and almost every month is good, but this feeling is different. These next picks represent six reasons why Vinyl Me, Please have earned their title as the best damn record club out there.
Big Bill Broonzy – Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs
Folkways Records – FA 2328, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings –SFW40023
Vinyl Me, Please Records Of The Month – Vol. 38
OHHHHH SHIT!!! They didn’t!
Yeah, they did. Blues. Real blues.
Eric Clapton is not blues.
Stevie Ray Vaughan is not blues.
ZZ Top is not the blues. Ask Billy Gibbons, I’m guessing he’d tell you the same. That would make for the most interesting discussion, wouldn’t it? The kind of lifetime memory a music nerd dreams about. Not the usual “I love your music so much, you’re amazing!” type fan thing, but an honest to goodness discussion about the blues, with Billy Gibbons or whoever your hero is.
Joe Bonmassa is not blues. Neither is the latest guitar whiz kid who grew up wanting to play the blues, just like Clapton did. Something came before Led Zeppelin and the Stones took the stage to packed arenas to play their blues.
No, I am not insinuating that the above subjects are not worthy, nor am I implying that my definition of the blues is the definitive one. Discussion is a good thing, let’s discuss.
The blues were born of suffering; they are the soul on a crying jag.
The blues were played in a church, or in a living room while Lomax captured the magic with his portable recording unit. A bluesman doesn’t climb the bus to get to the next arena, he goes back to the raw emotion that makes the blues what they are. That emotion doesn’t travel on a plane, it rides the rails. The calllouses of a bluesman were formed on much more than just guitar strings.
Blues music is folk music, it is the voice of the downtrodden, the common folk. Bluesmen don’t go to a studio to record, the studio comes to them.
The blues capture the chains rattling around the ankles as they sync up rhythmically with the sound of picks hitting rails.
Prison songs are the blues.
The blues pray for a better tomorrow where a common utopia is shared by all, it hopes for better because today is painful and divided. Big fish eats little fish. The blues are the little fish.
The blues expresses thanks for small blessings, the pain from which is it born makes it so the gratitude is deeply heartfelt. It thanks God for providing strength because something’s gotta be better than here and now.
All of the above doesn’t happen in arenas in front of thousands. That’s rock n’ roll. It’s awesome, but it ain’t the blues and putting a bottle on your finger won’t change that.
Big Bill Broonzy is the blues. Is he ever. You can hear the rooms, feel the spirits. Don’t believe me? Listen to Big Bill play “This Train” for a congregation. Crank the volume, make sure you can hear the room. Give yourself a few minutes to collect your soul as the chicken skin subsides.
That’s the blues.
“Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs,” Originally recorded for the Smithsonian Institue andreleased in ’62 on Folkways. Uncut, raw and real, just like the life experience behind it.