This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jaysis, how many alcoholic bluesmen am I gonna write about?

Whenever I'm having one of those pointless debates that only music nerds are capable of getting angry about ("whaddya MEAN Grant Hart was a better songwriter than Bob Mould?!? Twat!") and someone inevitably asks me what my favorite instrument is, I always tell them the harmonica. Most people say "piano" or "guitar" or if they're huge faggots, "the human voice." Nah, I've always loved the harmonica because it's probably the most expressive instrument ever devised. You can take it with you anywhere, and people can hear it from great distances without much amplification. It evokes a loose, earthy charm - whoever was a harmonica snob?

Certainly one of the best harp blowers that ever lived was Little Walter, a cat that could huff and puff and BLOW your shit down. He was loud, too, introducing a hand-cup method that amplified him enough to be heard over the guitars and drums and to try different pitches and timbres. He also experimented with distortion on purpose, which is pretty effin' cool for the late 40's, if you ask me. Cat managed to drown out Muddy freakin' Waters when he played in the latter's band, so you know he was out there.
'Course, bein' out there usually comes with a price of some kind. In this instance, it was Walters' profound alcoholism and infamously short temper that ended up being the death of him - literally. He died in 1968 of injuries sustained in a fight. However, his wild, unpredictable playing and lifestyle ended up being a huge influence on the rock 'n' roll bands that would follow. He wrote and performed songs that were anything but neat, despite the jazz influence. They smear emotion all over, like someone finger painting over a piece of sheet music. Listen to the man who played a little pocket harmonica louder than a trumpet and ask yourself if he could have done it any other way.

PS - he also played with Tampa Red, a man known mostly around my old apartment as the singer of "I'm Gonna Get High" and "It's Tight Like That," the latter being a song that made Jon and I laugh on and off for FOUR YEARS. There. Some trivia for you.


Blogger Calling Planet Earth said...

Good stuff man!

By the way, that Jimmy Soul mp3 is fixed. Sorry for being so lame with iTunes stuff. :)

3:35 PM


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