Monday, December 15, 2008

Skip James - The Complete Early Recordings

You might have a misconception that the blues is just a bunch of dorks knowing the pentatonic scale at each other. I know I held that misconception for quite awhile since my dad mostly just listened to lots of Eric Clapton, a prime pentatonic scale-knower. Fortunately, I dug deeper at some point, and Skip James was the first pre-electric blues that I heard. Definitely one of those goosebump moments, as these songs proceeded to fucking haunt my past, present and future.

There is something in these songs that I've discussed before on this blog, but in reference to black metal or hip-hop: a certain type of elitist melancholy that I can't quite put into words. Fortunately, a famous author has made a novel about this feeling. Unfortunately, I am illiterate so I don't know what this novel is called.

You guys are familiar with the 12-bar blues whether you know it or not. Just listen to any rock song from the 50s. That chord progression right there is it. These songs are structured in phrases of a certain number of bars rather than in verses and choruses - Jesus is a Mighty Good Leader is a great example, as the song is just the same phrase repeated with slight variations in lyrics. Get a feel for the phrases, and then pay attention to the flourishes that Skip throws in because the dude is fucking good at guitar. And he sounds like a ghost.

5 comments:

Stephen said...

"a prime pentatonic scale-knower."

Andy said...

im gonna know the pentatonic scale pretty hard at you when we move in.

thesunchild said...

http://pitchfork.tv/?p=one-week-only

Desperate Man Blues - a documentary about this wacky blues collector. High rec'd. Act quick, though. It's only up for a week.

Todd said...

Excellent, thanks brother. I'll be acting very quickly this weekend.

兩津 said...
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