Thursday, August 20, 2009

A hellhound on their trail

Ted Gioia reviews Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation, a book I very much enjoyed [and noted once before]:
.... For Nichols, these musicians were posing fundamental questions about our fallen state, an original bluesiness which dates back to Adam and Eve's departure from Eden. Sometimes their personal responses to these questions were whiskey, women, and other vices, but to the acute ear their music evokes timeless biblical themes of exodus and exile, fall and redemption. Yet even Nichols admits that the redemption angle is underplayed. In considering the spiritual significance of the old blues songs, I am reminded of Martin Scorsese's conversation with a parish priest who told the filmmaker that his movies contained too much "Good Friday and not enough Easter Sunday."

Nichols may find that readers today no longer condemn the blues as sinful, but he will run into critics who have tried to present a purely secular view of this music. Experts such as Elijah Wald, Barry Lee Pearson, and Bill McCulloch have worked hard in recent years to construct a modern, streamlined vision of blues music in which stories of the crossroads and damnation are excised as unnecessary mythologies. Nichols, for his part, respects the resonance of these tormented tales of blues artists, who felt either a literal or metaphorical hellhound on their trail. .... [more]
First Things - Article

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.