Sunday, December 04, 2005

White Boy Likes the Blues

I was reading something, somewhere online recently about this or that Blues act being largely attended by suburban whites who couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to have The Blues. Or at least they had never been down and out and therefore couldn’t possibly relate to the message behind the songs.

Thing is, I hear, read, see this complaint quite often. And it doesn’t just come from disaffected blacks looking for some hardship high (low?) ground. Lots of (let’s be honest) lefty whites and certain music snobs put forth the same notion on a regular basis.

OK, fair enough. Middle class born and bread whities like me never suffered the degree of hardship sometimes conveyed in blues tunes. But so what? We can’t like the genre because we were never sharecroppers or subject to Jim Crow laws? We aren’t worthy of liking Blues music? Huh?

If you think about it, that idea’s silly. Whether or not we have been oppressed, some of us do like the MUSIC. We aren’t trying to claim, “oh yeah, it’s a bummer my Volvo broke down and I had to drive the Taurus, I’ve got The Blues, better listen to some BB King”. That has nothing to do with it. We like the music. The arrangements, the emotional guitars, the vocals, whatever.

And one final point: a lot, if not most Blues tunes do have universal emotional appeal. That is, everyone, rich or poor or in between experiences heartache, makes bad decisions and sometimes feels wronged. As a matter of degree, there are those who have it worse, much worse, than others but even the mighty hit bottom from time to time.

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