Daily writing prompt
What is your favorite genre of music?
I was never a fan of the Childe Ballad form. Odes to lovers who turn slasher on the banks of the Ohio due to True Love and unplanned pregnancies were not my thing. My genres were blues, Jug band music, and, as it evolved, the singer/songwriter sort of fix on music. Add to this forays and deep dives into listening to Rag Time, Cool Jazz, New Orleans-influenced jazz, and pop. You’ll have to admit that I’m very eclectic.
My interests form a sort of weird spectrum. I was a folk singer in the sixties – mostly what was called a blueser among friends and associates from New York City’s Greenwich Village. But if you hung around the music scene there, you eventually heard almost all styles. You wound up having associates who played at jazz clubs, so you went to listen to their gigs. One friend edged away from “pure” folk into folk rock, so you listened to her material.
Being part of a scene meant not being an isolated individual. Little influences from other people’s approaches show up in what music you buy and listen to. There is a narrative flow as your interests develop.
You are exposed to the new and different. I get upset with those that insist that music be pure – Blue Grass has these elements and never includes those, Country must never have that, and the Lord forbids folk musicians to use electric instruments. Purity is the foe of innovation. Innovation is what keeps the music fresh and evolving. We do not get to sit on an imperial throne and decide what a particular genre should be; musicians and the folks that listen to their music get to do that.
What’s my favorite? I’m eclectic and enjoy almost all of it.
When they served you pastry at the Cafe Rienzi, you ate the crumbs. First of all, if you were a habitue of the said establishment, you appreciated the quality. But mostly, if you were like me, the calories were an essential part of your daily intake.
As an aspiring folk singer, your music was a central part of your existence, but you were one of the thousands, and a note of music did not equate to a dollar to spend on food.
Unlike some of my friends, I could not run home on weekends or odd evenings to tank up at the family table. That was closed to me thanks to the ferocious battle that raged between my parents and me. I was fortunate in not understanding how desperate my life was. Talk about starving for your art.
New York City was full of people busy remaking themselves into new images from the old components. Most of the time, this just resulted in a rehash of the old and just as tired.
Aliases and names were fragile things in those days, and they changed quickly over a week of self-reflection and drugs. We had no flashy laminated “Government Issued ID.” We did have those on pasteboard, and the local forger in the Jeweler’s District would whip you up a new one for ten bucks.
Real change? To create that, you either have to have little attachment to the past or little history. I was fortunate I had neither.
I sat down to watch the movie ” a Mighty Wind” with some trepidation. Within moments I was groaning at the portrayals of people who were almost that of Folkies I had known. The movie cut, in a humorous way, just a little too close to the bone. The preoccupations of the performers opened to public view. The jealousies, and innuendos, it was all there. We took it so seriously, and the movie exposed how mundane we were.
It was tough to watch because I know friends who either never picked up a guitar again after their last gig or those who practiced endlessly for a gig that will never come. Think of it; thousands of folkies, male and female, practicing in their basements waiting for the Folkie Apocalypse to come. Do you think I’m joking? We may be getting old, but, Folk Music is a powerful drug.
I have not been able to watch the movie ” Inside Llewyn Davis.” Just watching the trailer gave me bad flashbacks. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Greenwich Village, and I loved my life there. But, to get shoved back inside it again. No. Much too much crazy stupidity. But oh for the beautiful afternoons, evenings, nights, and entire weeks of playing that music.