Monday, May 19, 2008

blues and the substance of music

John Lee Hooker

Hey, yeah I know him

saw him down there at Antone's

premier gig in Austin, TX

I swear he had five fingers of whiskey in a highball glass

Big fat Gibson guitar sitting there tickling the strings with part of the house band and the remainder of his crew, long haired whiteboy working lead beside him and a tall black man blowing sax

I was on a chair at the back, girlfriend standing before me, wondering at the spectacle of a man

I will not soon forget "Tupelo", even if I did not hear it that night

I read one time the efforts of a man to write into musical notation what the man rendered into sound

It was complicated and was the best effort he could muster, to transcribe into notes what the man played in the honky-tonk

all he had was a piece of plywood, his guitar and himself

I heard the first thing BB King played was the wire from a broom, between two nails on the front porch, his slide was the spool remaining from the thread

find a way to translate that into four lines of notations

every good boy does insufficient

pavarotti cannot read music

john lee can't either

and those who write music

have a hard time figuring out what EXACTLY

either one was doing on the stage or recording

and I am in the audience

somehow I am amused by all this


you can either measure the speed of the electron

or find its place

you cannot do both


measure me this

find me the substance of a man

weigh the words and find their mass

i challenge those who would measure out this life

who would know exactly what is the facts of the matter

you cannot

you can only get so close

then you have to feel it

and that has no ruler, no scale

no rule book

you have to find it for yourself

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