Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Black Folks' Insistence on Pain Music

I'm watching this documentary on PBS called "The Blues" .

And, of course, I should be very much asleep...

And this is far from the first time I've watched it (I'm ancient now, so I am constantly finding new/additional meaning in places I've already looked).

- Oh, wait, quick aside - it just occurred to me that Keb' Mo' must be short for Kevin Moore. I was close, it's Kelvin Moore -

Anyway, I'm watching these Old Black Men make these universally true statements through the silk and canvas of their music... and one of them makes the point that the blues was therapeutic when they weren't allowed a therapy - that when they were working and sang about their woman troubles, they could really be talking about how their employer was treating them wrong. The genius of it being that he/she was probably standing right there, possibly enjoying it while they did it.

Yes, yes, much like slave spirituals were codes. I know you know.

But that's not the point.

I was sitting there watching, thinking about how this music was a way to express pain, it was relief, a healer. I began to think about how young people here in NYC would probably see this and laugh, tease it for being "country".

I remember once in undergrad, we were listening to music and I was doing some little shuffle or another which was referred to by someone as "a slave man dance". Maybe it's where I grew up, but I don't distance myself from my relation to the slavery/slave experience. I don't like when people use as a negative modifier. To me it insinuates an attempt to deny...

Again. Digression. Anyway...

I don't think that they would look at these men and see that, in their youth, they were the Kool-Moes, Ice Cubes, Rakims, B.I.Gs, Lupe Fiascos of their day.

Or maybe they would...

Well, I was thinking about the blues and how it was pain music. Then I thought about hip-hop, and that it is pain music. Of course, this is not explicitly true, but even in a lot of what would celebration/party music of either type, you could find pain.

Blues and hip-hop are both ways of getting it out. Getting pain out is important. You sneeze for a reason. Sores run for a reason. You cry for a reason. What is not good for you must get out of you so that it might not prove detrimental.

So, why do we still need to? After all this time, why do we still have pain that needs to be expressed?

I think it may be because we DON'T have a way to express that pain. Because every time that we find a way to express it that is unique to us,

it becomes popular.

It becomes something to be performed.

It becomes something to be sold.

The pain becomes a source of enjoyment. Not joy expressed through pain, but pain as a source of enjoyment, entertainment, interest....

Perhaps these therapies have become confused. Or corrupted. Or abused. Like getting addicted to morphine.

Or codeine.

Perhaps we still have pain because we've never had a chance, through one of these forms of therapy to get it all out -

- before it shows up on a chart.

And we complain about people taking our pain from us and selling it,

and we spend a great deal of time trying to package our pain and sell it,

so somebody who doesn't have their own pain can dance to it.

Maybe we've become convinced that we need pain in order to survive.


4:30a. Time for a nap.

No comments:

Post a Comment

commente vu?

Blog Archive