Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Ode to a Black Man
On this date in history - September 25, in 1789, the U.S. Congress passed twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment, the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten that are known as the Bill of Rights, and 168 years later, in 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is integrated through the use of United States Army troops.
So, one thinks that between "all men are created equal" and this forced integration, that really... all men are not created equal and color is one of the many elements leading to such inequality.
This argument is like beating a dead horse... but um... all that music that white people enjoy - rock n roll in all its permutations - well, the Black Man laid the foundation for it. No honest musician disputes it. How many people in the music game, punk and not punk, have lifted straight from Chuck Berry?
Keith Richards, the best of the best rock n rollers in execution and attitude went toe to toe with his idol, and they're still both standing... you MUST see the Taylor Hackford film, Hail Hail Rock n Roll actually. A deluxe DVD is available nowadays.
Ode to a Black Man is one of my favorite songs ever. Mick Collins, whose face is at the top of this post, frontman for The Dirtbombs does an amazing cover of it. If you don't believe me, check below!
The song which Mick delivers as if it were his very own was written by Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy fame. Thin Lizzy may be associated with classic rock, or even hard rock, but Phil's always had a punk rock soul! He was an early and ardent supporter of punk, but not so many punk rockers loved him back. Too bad for them!
And, in 1979, under the name of The Greedies, Lynott recorded a Christmas single, A Merry Jingle featuring other members of Thin Lizzy as well as Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. About a year later, hanging out in Los Angeles, he joined local heroes, The Plimsouls on stage at the Starwood.
Peter Case who fronted (and still does) the Plimsouls is a versatile musician who plays music regardless of genre. Good music from the heart and soul.
Here is a clip I found on YouTube of Phil Lynott and a pick up band that features a psuedonymous Huey Lewis (whom punk rockers in San Francisco always referred to as Huge Loogey) doing a great job on the harmonica (I think he should have stuck to that role for career longevity).
Speaking of a chain of influences and the slippery definition of genres... I am happy to report that Peter Case and the below-pictured Memphis-based musician, Ron Franklin have played some shows together... performing in their acoustic, folky, roots mode. If you're beginning to think "What's that got to do with punk," my answer lies in name-checking some bona fide punk heroes: John Doe, Billy Zoom, Dave Alvin, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, and the latter two bring up Woody Guthrie. Popular Music = Agitprop!
Ron Franklin as well as many of the great Memphis musicians all have played with a garage rock legend, Monsieur Jeffrey Evans.
In fact, if you are one of the many people who will be descending on Memphis this coming weekend for Goner Fest 4, you will have a chance to see the documentary that Ron made about Monsieur, called The Man Who Loved Couch Dancing.
The Man Who Loved Couch Dancing
A Flim About Jeff Evans by Ron Franklin
@ Media Coop 6pm $5
You see, down in Memphis, its all about the music and not about the color of the music. Too bad no one told that to James Earl Ray 39 years ago.
I can't be at Goner Fest this year - but I send all of you down there good wishes for a good time. There will be a Punk Turns 30 special photo exhibit / rock show / party on November 1 - so stay tuned!