Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear."
-- Gene Roddenberry

Have a listen to this.

You're listening to a recording made by Alan Lomax of a man named Charlie Barnett singing "Run to Jesus for Refuge". Lomax's mission - and gift to all peoples - was to archive "primitive" music from all across the globe. This song is one of the best examples of the many, many, many gems
found in those field recordings. After being asked to sing into the microphone, Charlie, on the spot, erupts into song. It seems that nothing is so effortless or so rewarding than the act of singing. In the midst of the trash-can-cover percussion and his ants-in-the-pants performance, we almost forget that this sound has been passed down through several generations, nearly as palpable as any quilt or necklace and far more sacred.

This got me wondering what's happening to smaller, niche cultures found all over the world. All the pleasant little colors that come with regionalism are being replaced with the same ubiquitous dreck.

Speaking from my own experiences in America, I've criss-crossed the midwest and traveled across the sunbelt finding pretty much everybody talks the same, watches the same television shows and wears the same kind of clothing. Even that sweet, lilting southern twang is
slowly receding into memory with more and more folks copying "proper" diction from national programming.

The reason we don't find more roots musicians like Dock Boggs, Uncle Dave Macon or Skip James in Pop Culture is they're just too emotional, and unpolished to be marketable. This music ranks high in earnestness and low in irony, meaning it can't be sanitized into "product" for mass distribution.

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