From the Rolling Stones concert in Ohio last night…
Mick, about that show coming up in Bobby Dodd Stadium: don’t make me hate you.
Pretty cool look at big concerts in college football stadiums over the years here.
B. B. King, whose world-weary voice and wailing guitar lifted him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a global stage and the apex of American blues, died Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.
His death was reported early Friday by The Associated Press, citing his lawyer, Brent Bryson, and by CNN, citing his daughter, Patty King.
Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.
“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions,” Mr. King said in his autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (1996), written with David Ritz.
He did that.
I’d heard he’d been placed in a hospice, so the news of his passing doesn’t come as a complete shock. And what a legacy! His greatest work, in my humble opinion, is Live at the Regal, but there is so much more you ought to listen to out there.
I’ll leave you with a couple of clips for a taste. First, check out this remarkable performance from 1972, at Sing Sing Prison:
And here he is performing his greatest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone”, in Montreux, Switzerland. The year is 1993.
The last word, from his AP obit…
In a June 2006 interview, King said there are plenty of great musicians now performing who will keep the blues alive.
“I could name so many that I think that you won’t miss me at all when I’m not around. You’ll maybe miss seeing my face, but the music will go on,” he said.
UPDATE: King talked about his guitar here. It’s pretty cool.
Theme song for college football, that is.
You’ve probably heard the Cyndi Lauper cover of this, but I’ve always been partial to the local group’s original.
It’s an understatement to write that Bob Dylan has authored a lot of great music.
For what it’s worth, my favorite Dylan song isn’t from the sixties. It’s something he cut in the early ’80s, “Blind Willie McTell”. “BWT” is a blues number, ostensibly about how the old singer can’t be matched these days. But it’s really an incredible meditation about the human condition.
The music – Dylan on piano, accompanied by Mark Knopfler on acoustic guitar – is as stark and beautiful as a Cormac McCarthy passage. The bleakness of the lyrics is a perfect match. And speaking of the human condition, if there’s a better lyric to summarize that than
Well, God is in His heaven
And we all want what’s His
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I have yet to hear it.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to this song. But it still moves me like very few others. It’s really just an amazing piece of work.
To me, the most amazing thing about the song is that Dylan left it off the album for which he recorded it, Infidels. (It wound up surfacing on one of the official Bootleg albums, fortunately.) He’s never given a clear reason for what strikes me as a weird lapse of judgment. Artists. What are you gonna do, sometimes?
Sigh. We lost another great last week, as John Renbourn, one of the giants in the British folk scene, died. He was one of the mainstays of Pentangle, which put out a few brilliant albums. He also compiled a number of noteworthy solo albums. His work with his fellow Pentangle guitarist, Bert Jansch, shouldn’t be missed. (I saw the two of them in concert once; to call their performance dazzling would almost be an understatement.)
Anyway, here’s an example of his style, which ranged over about as broad a spectrum of musical genres as is possible for a guitarist to play.
More links to clips here, if you’re interested.
For once, something not inspired by somebody’s death, or a 40-year old memory of mine.
This is something I came across last week. I’m the occasional sucker for a well-played piece of pop fluff, and The Rebel Light’s “Strangers” fits the bill nicely. In fact, I can’t get the damned thing out of my head. So maybe it’ll stick in yours, too.
Very California, no?