The Young Horse Run Fast, But The Old Horse Knows The Way
It's been dogma in the U.S, for a generation or longer, that our culture in general, and music in particular, are (and should be) youth-centric in the extreme. Those teenagers are the ones who follow the trends, and have the diposable income to run to the record store, everybody knows that........well, all that's out the window now!! The young people rip the music ( a lot of which is rehashed 80's stuff anyhow...they don't have much of a consensus on music of their own) off the computer, while the boomers not only might still BUY a CD, but kind of like the feeling of having a concrete piece of the artists they enjoy, something they can hold up and say “Hey! I just got the new Wildcat O'Halloran CD!”...or whoever.
And it's not like it was always thus....Rock and Roll was proclaimed a young person's game partly because young black artists were willing and eager to take out a few of the subtleties of the blues, while pumping up the tempos....and the amplification, to the initial horror of the established blues artists! For many years after R&R's inception, there would be “revue” shows with older legends in the tradition for the parents, and Rockers for the “young uns” When record companies saw how much money could be made off the younger audience (and how gullible they were!), the “teeny-bopper is our newborn king” became etched in stone...or so it seemed. “The Blues had a baby....and they named the baby Rock and Roll”, said Muddy Waters.
But it's really never been like that in Blues. From the time of Charley Patton and Son House mocking the young Robert Johnson, to the tours of Willie Dixon with his grandson and nephew in the rhythm section, Blues has always been a music where we expect our party to be hosted by someone with a little “mileage” on them. And when Albert King embraced the hippies at the Fillmore (he had already embaced feedback, which they absolutely LOVED!), he immediately advanced his career....and taught a whole new generation (and race!) how to party.....which has always been a theme of this music. From “She's 19Years Old” (and got ways like a baby child) to “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (she's not only underage...she might be Jewish....and in some versions, the singer threatens to kill her!....a little TOO Creepy!) the Blues has been a music that, on one level purports to set up war between young and old, but ultimately resolves that conflict as the younger folks come of age under the tutelage (or is that corrupting influence?) of 2000 years of African (not Sunday school) wisdom (“The boy has the boogie in him, and it's got to come out”, says John Lee Hooker. A Bluesman may not really fully hit his stride until 60, and will get respect even when staggering out to the stage one more time as a 90 year old fossil (“I wanted to party with him/say I met him in person---one more time.”) Side trip----the aforementioned John Lee was doing what I call the “frail act” when I first met him....being led out to a chair, only to stand up for the last song, to the amazement of the audience.....now, I understand that the Hook may have had a hard life....but he was 54 then, much younger than I am now!....I may start with the chair soon....but can I still dance with the pretty girls?
Someone will no doubt bring up the now-numerous really young blues artists, and my answer may upset some readers: It's exactly the surprise of seeing the teen (or pre-teen) cover the music and appear to dispense the wisdom, that makes this interesting....not to demean the abilities of these artists, but it's precisely because they go against the grain that we marvel....would an analogy to seeing a poodle in a tutu doing ballet be too harsh? Maybe, though at one time, the white bluesman dispensing “down Home” wisdom may have been a similar novelty.
Wildcat O'Halloran has kept the Blues alive in western Massachusetts since about 1968....making him officially....old enough to be a Bluesman......his new CD, Party Up In Heaven, is now competing with new releases by men who died in 1968...but that's another blog! Meanwhile.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOXTjpnyxpo OR:Probably_Dea_Mix_1_03.wav