Blues, Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep about Feeling Low

Blues, Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep about Feeling Low

Blues, Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep about Feeling Low

Blues, Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep about Feeling Low

Synopsis

The philosophy of the blues

From B.B. King to Billie Holiday, Blues music not only sounds good, but has an almost universal appeal in its reflection of the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Its ability to powerfully touch on a range of social and emotional issues is philosophically inspiring, and here, a diverse range of thinkers and musicians offer illuminating essays that make important connections between the human condition and the Blues that will appeal to music lovers and philosophers alike.

Excerpt

Bruce Iglauer

The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over
all circumstances, whether created by others, or by one’s own human failing
.

(Ralph Ellison)

The blues is a form of magic. Yes, magic, not just music. It is incredibly simple, usually involving somewhere between one and five chords; usually in 4/4 time; with verses rarely more than sixteen bars long; and often with only two lines of words, often one repeated, in a verse. Yet the blues is infused with a subtlety and power of emotion that transcend even the listener’s ability to understand the meaning of the words. the passion, the humor, the sorrow, the joy all seem to communicate on a subliminal, non-intellectual level that defies explanation.

Amazingly, the blues, a music that has won a worldwide audience, was created by an incredibly isolated group of people, an almostinvisible and often despised minority population with little interaction with the white majority in their unchosen home country. They were dragged in chains from their homes in Africa and deposited in a strange land under the control of owners who often literally worked them to death, enforced illiteracy, divided their families and original tribes, and often even banned them from owning musical instruments. Even after the legal end of slavery, the sharecropping system made it virtually impossible for African-Americans to emerge from dire poverty, to own land, or to create a future for their children. in their own country, they were (and still often are) the ultimate ‘other.’ All this in the ‘land of the free.’ . . .

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