You know that feeling you get when you're attracted to someone and you graze hands for the first time? Or right before that first kiss, you close your eyes and for a second your heart stops in anticipation? Intoxication. Addiction. Euphoria. So many adjectives could be used to describe this feeling. Well I haven't had that feeling in a long time. I wish I could say that it's for a lady but alas it tis not! =)
I can still remember my first time. I was nervous, having never experienced such things. I walked in and sat down. Without notice the event began. My natural reflex was to close my eyes and take deep breathes. As the music danced around the room it was almost as though I wasn't listening to it but rather I was inhaling it. Like it was entering through each breath and continuing its dance through my body with my soul.
Was that dramatic enough for you? Honestly, I have been obsessed with music my entire life. I used to bring my boombox with me anytime I went to the bathroom, when I played basketball, when I went to sleep, all the time! In the last few years, I think I have turned much more towards music that teaches me something. I guess that means music with good lyrics that mean something to me. I still love the club bangers on Friday and Saturday nights but for the most part, lyrics are what I crave. Blues music moves me in a way that music has not moved me in a long time and I think it's because it offers something pretty special.
In the last few months, I have become a frequent patron at an old blues bar near my house and I'm taking a class on the history of the blues right now too. We began with the influences of blues and every week we travel through time as blues music evolved. The teacher spouts off anecdote after anecdote about guys with "Blind" in front of their name or with names like "Spider" or "Big" something or other. Our only assignment in class is to sit and listen to the lyrics to each song he plays. It's mind blowing. Every song tells the story of the time. Songs about racism in the South, about slavery, about the Vietnam War, about hope, about positivity, and about contagious optimism. It's like the music was born out of despair and the lowest depths of the human soul only to be used to raise the soul to the highest level.
I leave every class meeting both saddened about the past of America and uplifted by the outlook of the original blues singers. We learned about JB Lenoir, who sang songs about politics and the plight of people in the South. Another big theme in his music was respect for women. He was in a car accident and his injuries were not taken seriously because he was black. We've already learned of three revolutionary musicians whose lives ended early because they were black. The amazing thing is, for all the sadness of the time, blues singers still seemed to raise the spirits of their listener. It's almost like these women and men addressed the sadness all around them and then told everyone to enjoy the moment and move on. They embraced the feeling of life to the fullest.
I think it's pretty cool that the Blues and music in general can tell us a lot about the past and make us still feel emotion in the present. Another great story was about Skip James, who couldn't afford cancer treatment because he wasn't making any money singing his songs. So Eric Clapton covered one of his songs and donated all the money towards his hospital bills. How cool is that?
I love that we all have our own music tastes. We don't all take time out of busy lives though, to just sit and take in music the way it was supposed to be experienced though. Take some time today, close those eyes, and inhale the notes with each breath. See where it takes you.
Here are a couple J.B. Lenoir videos. He looks a lot like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and actually sang about a lot of the same topics.
This first one is a great example of the way the music tells a story about the times. I like how he hits his guitar between cords (during the second song).
When I feel so good....