Life Is Music
“Now, Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers, and they’ve been known to pick a song or two,
Lord, they get me off so much, they pick me up when I’m feelin’ blue, now how ‘bout you”
From “Sweet Home Alabama”, by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I’ve written on a couple of prior blogs, “Who I Am, Who Am I (parts 1 and 2), about how important music is to me, how it’s an integral part of everything I am. Music is in everything and everyone. When you can, take a moment and listen to nature, and you can hear a song. The Chinese call it Qi, (chi) the energy that exists in all things, for me that energy frequently expresses itself musically. In my personal experience I have never met anyone who doesn’t like music, in one form or another, if they don’t, it just means they probably haven’t discovered it within themselves. Music is the glue that holds humanity together, whether it be spiritual songs sang in church, or heavy metal blasting at a concert. Music doesn’t care about the color of your skin, or where you’re at on the social scale. I was watching a documentary about the small Alabama town of Muscle Shoals recently and it really brought this point home. The film tells the story of Rick Hall and the “Swampers”, the guys that made recording at Muscle Shoals Alabama, legendary. What really struck me was how colorblind these people were. If you look at all the artists who recorded at “Fame” studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama you would have to assume the backup band had to be a bunch of black cats. The funky groove that is so evident on Wilson Picket’s “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Mustang Sally” or Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, surely couldn’t have come from a bunch of guys that look that they should be behind the counter at the local grocery store. That moment really made me think. I’ve been guilty of stereotyping certain kinds of music to certain ethnicities and even certain generations, we all do that. My parents weren’t big Led Zeppelin fans for instance, and I wasn’t a big Ed Ames fan, so to an extent that’s true, I mean there aren’t a lot of white skinned rappers out there, there are some to be sure, just like there are some African American country and western artists. Ethnic heritage plays a large part in what kind of music someone is exposed too, therefore it shapes what type of music you may prefer. The advent of Rock n Roll however, was a turning point in breaking down the color and social barriers of the 60’s. Rock came out of the blues, the blues came out of the negro spirituals sung by the slaves in the cotton fields. White musicians “discovered” this incredibly soulful music and the great musicians that were playing the blues, guys like Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters to name a few. Their exposure to the blues, combined with traditional country American music allowed artists like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and scores of others to thrive, and made rock music what it came to be. I have always loved the music that came out of Muscle Shoals, I just never really paid any attention to the history of the place. Part of the legend of Muscle Shoals is that of an American Indian girl, would sing these beautiful songs, inspired by the Tennessee River which flows through Muscle Shoals is the reason for all the great music that came from there. I can totally believe that, the Qi of the place is undeniable. So many fantastic songs and performances have come out of what Rick Hall and The Swampers started in the early 60’s, that it would take way too much time to list them all. I encourage y’all to check it out, it’s absolutely mind blowing. The thing that is most incredible, is that for the vast majority of the musicians who recorded at Fame studio, skin color didn’t matter. All that mattered was how you played, and if you’ve got the groove, you can play with anyone. The Swampers had that groove and Rick Hall knew how to record artists to get that groove, that soul, on vinyl. When you consider the political back-drop of the times, it becomes even more remarkable. Alabama in the 60’s, had DEMOCRAT, George Wallace as Governor, who ran and won on a segregationist platform. Yet here in the deep south of Alabama, white and black musicians were getting together to make some of the most iconic music in history, these cats just cared about one thing, making great music.
With all the race-baiting that has been going on lately, I feel that America really needs to take a look at places like Muscle Shoals as it applies to the current conversation about race. “Critical Theory”, which is the all-encompassing doctrine of all critical theories like critical race theory or critical gender theory et. al., is a Marxist, anti-family philosophy being taught in our public schools and universities. Critical Theory’s offshoot, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is especially vile as it promotes racism to fight racism. In the documentary they show a clip of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, where he says he hopes for a future where black kids will play hand in hand with white kids. King didn’t advocate for racism to combat racism, King advocated for a colorblind society, where what really matters is the content of your character. These days M.L.K. would probably be labeled as a racist, or perhaps like Condoleezza Rice or better yet, Larry Elder, dubbed the black-face of white supremacy. To me, it’s obvious what the progressive/globalists are trying to do, divide and conquer. Dividing us over the color of our skin is the easiest thing to do, given the sad fact of not just American history, but human history. The progressive/globalists don’t really care about racism, it’s simply a means to an end. All you have to do is ask what has BLM has done for the average African-American, or what has Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot done to combat black-on-black crime in her city, the answer to both is “nada”, yet both of them play the race card non-stop. A free, united America stands in the way of the globalist objective, and they will use anything and everything at their disposal to achieve that goal and for them, racism is low-hanging fruit. I wrote in a previous blog about the lie of “systemic racism” in the United States. I wrote that in the past, you could certainly make a case for America being systemically racist, especially in light of our early history, up to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. I wrote of how my own, suburban, middle-class, white kid upbringing could in fact be called systemically racist. That has changed, I don’t think there is any way you can justify the charge of systemic racism in today’s America, and music, along with other forms of media, helped to bring about that change. This should be something to celebrate, that racism is no longer mainstream. To be sure racism still exists, but in no way can it be called systemic. Yet here we have groups spouting poison like CRT, demanding reparations and segregation! Didn’t we learn the lessons of the civil rights movement? Nobody in their right minds wants this, yet once again the mainstream media, in lock-step with the progressive/globalists are spreading this crap like it’s the new gospel. On Fox’s Gutfeld show, he does a segment called “everything is racist” where he highlights something normal that is now being called racist or white supremacist. What the CRT advocates don’t seem to realize, or perhaps they do and they just don’t care, is that by calling everything racist, you lose the actual meaning of racism, thereby enabling actual racists.
This brings me back to my original point in this blog. Life is music, music is life, real music isn’t racist, real music does not care about the color of your skin or spread hate. Like sports, but in a much more powerful way, music binds us together. One of my favorite music videos is Peter Gabriel doing a live performance in Athens Greece in 1987 of his mesmerizing song “In Your Eyes”. I wish that everyone could see it, it’s such a colorblind, but also color-rich performance. Gabriel melds his brand of music with African rhythms and musicians to form a cohesive style of music that truly defies classification. Like The Swampers of Muscle Shoals, it reminds me of the awesome power of music. A power that can change hearts and minds, that can heal wounds and lift the soul. A power that can bring people together like no other force in the world. One of the worst tragedies of the insipid Covid lockdowns, was stopping people from attending concerts, or even singing worship songs in church. I realize that with all the other issues the lockdowns inflicted on us, the loss of live music may seem trivial, but in my mind, it was a crucial blow to America’s unity. More than sporting events, humans need the social interaction of going to a concert or to a club to hear live music. Because while not everyone is a sports fanatic, who doesn’t love music? If you’re one of them, I’ll pray for you, because there is a hole in your soul.
For the record, I am one of the conspiracy nuts who believes all of this Covid nonsense was done purposely by the progressive/globalists in their desire for a One World Government. Why lockdown people when all the studies show that the Wu-flu is transmitted indoors? Why have Australia and Canada gone completely insane with their totalitarian edicts? Why are we being forced to take a vaccine that is absolutely unnecessary! Like CRT and all the “systemic racism” crap, it’s just another tool for them to divide and conquer. I have to believe that they will fail, and despite all the never ending shit-creek of bad news out there, there is some good news. They can’t stop music, it’s impossible, no matter how hard they try. I’m not a big Rap fan, but when I saw a video of thousands of people at a concert singing “Lets Go Brandon”, along with a whole stadium of football fans chanting “FJB”, I just sat back and smiled. Music is life, it’s also freedom. Music can never die, like I said, it’s an integral part of the human experience. (I wonder if people who don’t listen to music are actually the progressive/globalists, or soulless scum like Anthony Fauci and that’s why I can’t stand them). It doesn’t matter if some people think that what you like is crap, it doesn’t matter what genre of music you listen too, as long as music resides in you, you’re human. I stated earlier that I’m not big Rap fan, but I do like it when it’s put to a metal song, like “Epic” by Faith No More, or “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine. My wife can’t handle Dream Theater’s progressive metal and I used to loathe country and western. I developed a taste for it thanks to artists like Toby Keith and Brad Paisley. The thing is, I don’t like or dislike some genre of music because it’s performed by musicians with a certain skin color or ethnicity, that’s totally ridiculous. I remember when I first heard Tommy Castro, I was sure he was a black dude, I mean he sings “Get On Up” just like James Brown, but no, he’s just a white boy with soul. It’s the same as assuming that Living Color’s virtuoso guitarist Vernon Reid must be white because he plays metal. In the end, they’re both great musicians that have that one thing in common, soul. I have a saying that I painted on a stand for my computer tablet, it says “Talent without soul is meaningless”.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that with all the bad news out there, all the crap about division, racism and woke/cancel culture, that is seeking to divide us from ourselves, we need to cling to the things that ring true to our basic humanity, our own inner spirituality, that harmonize with our inner Qi. No matter what form of spirituality you may subscribe too, music is an essential part of us all, maybe the greatest gift God has bestowed on humanity. Music has the power to bring us together, (remember how the music of the 60’s played such a huge part in changing society?) It can happen again, so keep a song in your heart, or on your mind, there is always one in mine, (usually it’s some off the wall tune that gets stuck in my head, like “What’s New Pussycat”), It’ll help you through the bad times, and make the good ones to come even better.
ROCK ON MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS!