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Jimmie Rodgers – ojciec muzyki country

Jeff Taylor

In the previous blog entries I listed the songs that should be removed from the airwaves, and today let’s find some songs/artist/records that people should discover.

First of all, I won’t include all the good songs by the artists mentioned before (Metallica, Guns-n-Roses, Rolling Stones, etc). My readership is full of people who are familiar with these so let’s find something else.

But first a tangent; „tangent” is defined as „a line, curve, or surface meeting another line, curve, or surface at a common point and sharing a common tangent line or tangent plane at that point” and translated as „styczna.” It also means to diverge from the subject, which I am about to do. At the time of writing, we are two days away from Easter and I am celebrating the holiday in a very Polish way – cleaning the house. This not a condemnation of this tradition but there are better ways to preapre for the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifiction (or as one comedian described as a three-day bender with his friends culminating in the ultimate practical joke. „Let’s take off his clothes and leave him tied to a tree!”)

However, I concluded after dusting my house that…my God I have lots of crap. This is not my fault but that of my friends and family who after hours of labour-intensive thinking decide to buy me …. a cup. Any surface that collects dust also has a bunch of junk. The worst offender…candles. My god, it’s the 21st century and we have electricity to illumiante our rooms. Then there are little figurines, usually angels. And finally and just as bad and pointless, boxes, containers, vessels and little clocks that look aged but are just junk. If I wish to dust anywhere, I first have to remove a an armful of bits n’ junk and afterwards return them to their proper places.

So, if my readers ever wish to present me with a gift for Christmas, my birthday or new home (fortuantely I don’t celebrate namedays), please I beg only something I can eat, drink, destroy or smoke. Be aware if I am ever forced to do likewise, you can expect the same kind of present. And you’ll thank me for that. Wouldn’t you rather eat some chocolate than dust around a vase once a week?

Let’s return to main topic of this entry. Give country music a chance. Forget your prejudices and presumptions that country is cheesey Nashville-type crap. Without country there would never have been rock-n-roll from which it originated. Bill Haley, famous for „Rock Around the Clock”? Country musician. Johnny Cash, country legend? In the 1950s, the same category as Elvis Presley. Rock-n-roll is just a mutated form of country music. Even the subject matter is the same, which can be heard on Hayseed Dixie’s Tribute to AC/DC; they play bluegrass country versions of AC/DC songs and it’s awesome. „Back in Black” or „Highway to Well” sound just as good on bango and violin as on electric guitars.

We’ll examine to this important CD in a later entry, but today you must learn about the tribute record to Jimmie Rodgers. You’re thinking, „Jimmie who?” Jimmie Rodgers is considered the father of country music. Unfortuantely, I don’t know why he is given this title as I’m not familiar with his style of singing and guitar playing. Jimmie played and recorded in the 1920s-30s and maybe his material was just different enough from popular music up to that time to spawn a whole new category of music and influence thousands of artists throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

To answer your question of whom he influenced, let me list some of the artists who recorded songs on his tribute record: Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, John Mellancamp and most importantly Bono. The first two especially, Bob and Willie, are legendary artists but wouldn’t attract many listeners outside of the folk/country/classic rock market („old people”). However, Bono gives the record some credibility among the people who would not usually venture beyond rock/pop („losers”). I admit that I almost fell into this category when my brother gave me this CD. „Country music? Oh boring. But wait Bono is on the CD. He’s cool.”

The record starts with Bono singing „Dreaming With Tears in My Eyes”. Thank God I bothered to put the CD in my disc player or I would have missed out on one of Bono’s best songs, and this includes his stuff with U2. A mournful ballad with only piano as an accompaniant, Bono sings his distinctive way but you know this isn’t U2.

The afforementioned Bob and Willie give solid perfomances but to convince you that country rocks as much as rock-n-roll, check out Steve Earle’s version of „In the Jailhouse Now”. He sings with a snarling rock-n-roll voice and the chorus just booms as if it could be a Rolling Stones song. My personal favoruite is „Gambling Barroom Blues” sung by John Mellancamp. This kind of song can be found  on any rock album. In fact, my band BINGE plays this song as well, in concert a crowd favourite, and I hope we’ll record it for our first album (whenever that will be).

Speaking of BINGE, we’ll be busy in May with the first show on May 3rd at Złoty Strug in Pluski and 9th at Baltazar Pub in Olsztyn’s Old Town. The highlight will be at Kortowiada on May 15th  as part of the Folk Night (I refuse to call it call it Folk-Shanty Night). So check out the Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers and let me know what you think. Also Happy Easter. If Jesus were with us on Earth today he would give us this important message, „You guys have a lot of crap.”     

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