Friday, June 13, 2008

Blues in Wingtips

A completely random post with an Otis Rush Shuffle

Otis, my man... (click on image)

"Oh, the formality!"

May we have a little bit of that back in our society please? Just a little bit? I miss it.

May the Blues live forever. The truest and most honest musical form there is.

Death to Hip-Hop. Death, I say... Death, death, death...


cowboyangel said...

Great video, Jeff. With the exception of Rush's hair, I almost thought I was watching a Wes Montgomery video from the same time period. Very jazzy piece. Complete with polite white college students in the background!

Rush is another musical giant I know nothing about. Thanks for the link to the web site for info.

Death to Hip-Hop. Death, I say... Death, death, death...

Wait, are you saying that Disco Sucks is over?

What led to this interesting blues/formality post?

Jeff said...


Rush's hair... Yeah, that was quite the "process" he had going back in the day, wasn't it?

You know nothing about Otis Rush?? What kind of Led Zeppelin fan are you? He was the one who originally recorded I Can't Quit You Baby. "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeell... I can't quit you babe, so I'm gonna have to put you down for awhile."

I can understand it, though, because Zep wasn't too good about giving credit to the blues guys they were ripping off from.

Wait, are you saying that Disco Sucks is over?

Unfortunately, Hip-Hop has a lot more legs to it than Disco ever did. It's been around for quite a while now, and seems to have crept into everything. A permanent fixture, I'm afraid.

Why the interest in formality? A continuation of these concerns, I guess.

It really hit home a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that CBS had bought into the hype about Kimbo Slice and decided to put a prime-time "mixed martial arts" extravaganza on display. I hate to sound like a culture warrior, but we really are turning into barbarians, and the best of what western civ has to offer really does seem to be on the run.

crystal said...

We're not turning into barbarians, we're turning into Romans (with their gadiators :)

Yes, that guys hair .... takes me back to Eraserhead.

Happy Father's Day, Jeff! :)

Jeff said...

Eraserhead!! :-D

Thanks Crystal.

cowboyangel said...

Hey, I forgot to wish you Happy Father's Day. Hope you're family is treating you like a king today.

I was enough of a Zeppelin fan to know they were covering old blues songs, but not enough of one to know specifically whose songs they were. They didn't lead me to explore their influences like Dylan did. I learned about a lot of music listening to him.

Formality. I'm not sure I like the word, though I probably agree with most of what you're feeling. It makes me think of having to figure out which fork to use at a fancy dinner. I think more in terms of "dignity," "respect for others" and "education" in the broader sense of knowing how one should behave in a given situation. Or just common courtesy - that would go a long way to making us a better country, if you ask me. People just aren't very polite to one another.

One can place some of the blame for this on the counter-culture movement of the sixties. I think, for example, in terms of how we dress in public now. Though it's a mixed bag, isn't it? I like hats and suits - up to a point. But I'd never want to go back to a time when men had to wear them all the time. And I'm sure women are happier with their choices today. But I didn't mind dressing a little more formally when I lived in Spain. They seemed to reach a good compromise. It's also aesthetic, isn't it. Fat American tourists in sweatpants going into a beautiful cathedral is just a plain, butt-ugly sight.

But you can't really blame the meanness and self-centeredness on the sixties. I think the dog-eat-dog aspect of our society got turned up during the eighties, and that accounts for a lot of the social dysfunction as well. Beat the other guy. Cut off the other driver. Don't pay attention to what's around you - just look after yourself. To me, that reflects America's self-obsession, empire fever, and an overblown sense of our own worth. If the president can tell the rest of the world to go to hell, why shouldn't its citizens do the same to each other?

Jeff said...


Thanks for the Father's Day wishes! We went to see Kung Fu Panda. :-D

I think you get what I'm saying, and you are probably putting it into words much better than I am.

Obviously, with a post using the Blues as an example, I'm looking for a happy medium on what the definition of "Western Civilization" is, casting a broader net that goes beyond an absolute liliy-white emphasis on Emily Post, Kant, and Classical Music. An American form like Blues, for instance, takes the best out of both Anglo and African-American heritage and combines them very nicely. As you well know, there are plenty of people who would say to me that the deconstructionism I'm lamenting merely started with mainstream concessions to things like Rock n' Roll.... I don't see it that way. Putting blame for deconstructionsism on race is the wrong path too, which is sadly followed by far too many people. There was too much mindless conformity, repression, bigotry, and hypocrisy here before we became a more inclusive society.

Speaking as someone who tends to have a problem with authority figures (or at least an amused under-awe of them), I wonder how I would fare under what I'm asking for more of, but on the whole I agree with you. I think this country has lost a lot of its simple, common civility in its recent hyper-individualistic emphasis. I think the Depression and World War II had shaped us into a society with a more communitarian ethos, where we had more of a common purpose, and recognized responsibilities towards one another. That's been lost over the past few decades. Europe seems to have far less social alienation and anomie than we do.

I like how Jaymie Stuart Wolfe put it in an essay this week, The Last Bulwark, with certain qualifications.

So just what does lie at the core of Western Civilization? Here’s my list:

1. Belief in God and what is due to him

2. The value of each human life and the dignity of the human person

3. Joy in the complementarity of masculine and feminine

4. Reverence for all living things

5. Public virtue as an integral part of personal integrity

6. Freedom understood as the ability to use one’s gifts fully and responsibly, and in a way that advances the freedom of others

7. Civility and a proper respect for the difference between public and private

8. The value of -- and need for -- truth, trust, and honest self-evaluation

9. Self-reliance placed at the service of others

10. Rational thought governing emotional tides

11. The rule of law and its just application

12. Belief in what transcends not only the self, but this world

13. Aspiration to excellence and the willingness to work for it

14. Reverence for the beautiful as expressed in the arts

15. Belief in the nobility of man and the value of virtue and self-sacrifice

16. The value of the printed word

17. Scientific innovation with a moral conscience

18. Proper use of things and respect for personal property

19. A collective attention span long enough to build a cathedral

20. True hospitality and generosity, which offers another one’s best, not merely one’s surplus

21. The value of the family and one’s place within it

22. Decorum, table manners, and general cleanliness

23. Seeing the world as ordered and designed

24. The willingness to make commitments and the perseverance to keep them

25. The ability to give and accept meaningful correction

26. Respect for authority and experience

27. Recognition of the proper use of the power of symbol, sign, and ritual

28. The value and dignity of work

29. Modesty and humility without self-deprecation

30. Courage without bravado

31. Valuing honor over reward

32. A sense of the sacred and the value of solitude

33. Self-discipline and moderation of appetites and desires

34. The distinction between the good and the pleasurable

35. Collaboration with others towards a common goal