Friday, December 09, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Shellac touchstones

You know what kind of music my parents were buying in 1947? Walter Brown -- "My Baby's Boogie Woogie."

Low-down blues. "Race" music. Along with pop, jump and country twangfests like the Delmore Brothers (above).

"She's got what it takes, make a preacher lay his Bible down," sangeth Mr. Brown. You should hear the flip side -- and you will . . . on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

This is a special one, this episode of the Big Show. If you want to know the music of my soul, this will get you pretty close.

If you want to know what was it that made your Mighty Favog the musical creature that he is -- if you want to hear the records I was playing when I was but a lad, just old enough to get into my folks records and operate a record player -- this is it.

This is personal.

THIS WEEK'S 3 Chords & the Truth is who I am. This week's program sounds like the world -- the Deep South -- I was born into a half century ago. It's a sequel to this episode of the Big Show, only I go "there" a lot more this time around.

It was eclectic, the Louisiana . . . the South of my youth. It was seemingly at odds with itself if you didn't look any further than the surface of things. It was also rich beyond measure. So is the show today.

Take Walter Brown, the blues shouter who once sang with Jay McShann's orchestra. In the particular culture I entered into during the spring of 1961, black shouters like him could sit next to white twangers like Ernest Tubb in the record cabinet in the bottom of the old Silvertone . . . even if they couldn't share a seat on a city bus.

And no one thought twice about either peculiarity.

This explains my parents' music-buying habits of 1947, 14 years before I came along and about 18 years before I started raiding their music collection. It also explains the complex and contradictory inner lives of these people -- formed by the Southern society that brought us Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams and Jim Crow -- who could in 1947 buy racy records by blues shouters, then in 1971 yell at me about my expletive-deleted "n***er music."

People who thought Dick Clark was a communist.

Those Wallace and Duke voters.

A couple more of the blackest white people on earth -- as Southern Caucasians surely are -- who may have found it just cause for homicide if you had told them that back in the day.

THE SOUTH: It's a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, tucked away in an enigma and fueled by contradiction. This week, you can look under its hood a little bit
-- its and mine. You won't totally understand either of us at the end of this particular installment of the Big Show . . . but it will be a start.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

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