I got a woman up da bayou…

…and her name is New Orleans.

I’ve never been abused by authority, but I’ve seen authority abused. That was going to be the theme for this post, but I couldn’t get much beyond that.

So I will take this opportunity to tell you why I like the banjo, fiddle, spirituals and field hollers. It’s because the songs produced by those instrument and in that genre are raw. They are one of the purest forms of human expression. I associate them with people who are surviving, and not much else. It’s hard not to have some empathy for the performers, even though that seems to be the last thing they want.

I connect with these melancholic tunes more than anything else. Listening to recordings from John and Ruby Lomax’s 1939 recordings from the south, I can see the dirt under the peoples fingernails, which are at the end of callused hands that only know hard labor. The voices are soaked with pain and suffering, but also of a hope for the future. A hope that the next life will be better, or that the next generation might find a way out. It’s this depressed optimism that I find so attractive.

It’s hard to put up a front when you don’t have much beyond the a low-paying job and a few family members. It’s nice to not have to decide if what I’m listening to is true or not, especially after days and weeks and months of doing that for a living.

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