I heard this song today over the radio; once again I was reminded of a great song from the past. The music video is fun, a showpiece of the early days of music videos when no one took them seriously. It was precisely this lack of seriousness that made these early videos so fun to watch.
I used to hear this piece occasionally on the radio and wonder, what is this music? It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. I remember, thanks to the internet, being able to do a search, and finally discover the author. I don’t know a whole lot about classical music, and when I hear a piece I cannot really identify it, except say for something by Beethoven, so the wonders of our modern, online world can be quite beneficial for things such as discovering music. This posted video is the first half of the work, but you get the feel, and can certainly find the rest if you search. (I posted this particular video because I liked the image of the mountains–it seemed appropriate for this music).
Ralph Vaughan-Williams (1872-1958) was an English composer. I usually don’t associate great classical music with English composers, but as this piece shows, he was a man of great talent. It was one of the themes for the great 2003 movie about the British navy during the Napoleonic wars, Master and Commander, which starred Russell Crowe.
Since I know next to nothing about classical music, I will let this piece speak for itself. All I can say is that it possesses great beauty, a certain type of melancholic beauty, but beauty nevertheless. I suppose it is important to mention every now and then on this blog that there are other types of beauty in the world than simply the erotic or physical, and music is one of the great vehicles for expressing the deeper and more mysterious types of beauty in our world. This piece is reflective of that. There is something inherently and eternally spiritual about music, especially music like this. As much as I enjoy contemporary forms of music, such as blues or rock, this type of music by Vaughn is truly music, and in a whole different class by itself. I even read once an interview with Jimmy Page, the founder and guitarist of Led Zeppelin, and one of the great rock guitarists of all time, who said it is absurd to apply the word genius to rock music, since the music is fundamentally so simple. Page mentioned that classical music can justify the term, since the music is so complex.
I love art, music and literature because they are, at least for me, the best means God has given man to express his spirituality and the spirituality of the world around us. Music such as this, by Vaughan, definitely can be called genius. Like all great art or music, it deeply touches the soul in ways that are indescribable.
“Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix is one of the rawest, most purely sexual songs ever recorded. It is about one thing, and one thing only: the unruly male desire to bed a woman. The rhythm of the song, a hard blues unlike any other, a sort of rhythmic thrusting, seems to convey the very act itself of fucking. The lyrics speak of the unquenchable thirst for sexual conquest. For a song of unbridled lust and emotion, of raw animal desire, it has no equal. Just listening to this music makes you want to fuck. I use the adjective “raw” quite a bit when describing it, because I cannot think of a better description. The niceties of civilized courtship, of romance and social restraint and propriety, have been completely stripped away in this song. Few songs have ever so successfully expressed the essence of pure sexual desire as this one.
I have always loved Hendrix’s music. Without a doubt he was the greatest rock guitarist of all time, and the fact that he died at 27, only confirms that. He was around for only a few years, but those years were, as I have suggest before, the golden age of popular music.
What is there being produced today that can even remotely compare to the greatness of this man’s music? Foxy Lady is one of his more well known songs, but there is a great variety in his all too short opus. He created sounds on a guitar that no one else has ever equaled. One of the great questions always to be asked is what would he have produced if he had lived, even just a little bit longer? We will never know.
Again, in my love for music which is passionate, powerful and full of raw energy, Hendrix was one of the best.
I had not heard this song for years until I just happened to hear it on the radio today, and I realized, what a great song it is. Good music to me is always visceral, and this song is definitely visceral in its tone. To convey passion through art, especially musical art, is a great gift from God.
The different genres of music from the general period in which the Four Tops were performing were simply superior to any of the crap that is mass produced today. It was the golden age of popular music.
It was only a few years ago that I first heard this song from the great British band of the 1960’s, The Kinks. After I heard it I was astounded, not only at how good a song it is, but of the fact that I had NEVER heard it before. I was wondering if other people have heard this, or was I just somehow singularly misfortunate enough simply to have never heard it. The song was produced sometime in the late sixties, and I believed first appeared on a Kinks compilation album, Sunny Afternoon, in 1967. They had written the song earlier, but for some reason decided not to put it in one of those albums. There is also another version of this song by the Chocolate Watch Band, a West Cost psychedelic band from the same era.
The version above is live, which I think is superior to the studio version, although that is good too. What I particularly enjoy about this song are the nice movements, the heavy, blues riffs and rhythms mixed with some gentle melodies. And the lyrics are priceless too. After all, who does not want to NOT be like everybody else?
All in all it is a great song that I wish I had discovered years ago, but am now happy to have discovered it in the past few years. The Kinks truly had some amazing music.
Recently I have been exploring the world of blues music. Although I have always enjoyed blues based rock music, such as Led Zeppelin, Cream, or Jimi Hendrix, I never fully appreciated the roots of such music: they all ultimately are derived from the blues. The blues are a unique creation of American culture. Born out of the black folk music of the deep south, the Mississippi delta region, and later the big city experiences of Chicago and Detroit, the blues are the foundation of pretty much most of all contemporary, popular music. Rock does not exist without the blues; neither does jazz, reggae, hip hop or other forms of modern music.
What I enjoy most about the blues, beyond the sheer pleasure of the music itself, is the down to earth, realistic nature of the songs. They are about real life: love, death, lack of money, betrayal, fucking, drinking, and all the other hardships of life. And of course there is no one in American society who can speak better about hardship than black Americans, especially those who sang the blues music in the early twentieth century from Mississippi. There is the ancient myths associated with blues music too, such as the legend that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. To this day, blues, and all blues based music, are still considered by many to be the devil’s music. Religious types still condemn them, as well as rock, as being degenerate. Yet it is precisely this degeneracy that I enjoy in such music. In short, the blues are messy, just as sex and love and life is messy. It is life, stripped down from all its artifices and pretension, and distilled to what is essential, what often drives us along the our different paths. I always enjoy exploring what lies behind the socially acceptable veneer of our society, to see the reality of how people actually live and think and behave, the lies and deceits and hypocrisies in which so many people are trapped. How many affairs are going on out there? How much money is being stolen? How much desperation exists? How many children are not actually the children of those poor, ignorant, cuckolded husbands, but the lovers of their bored girlfriends and housewives? Such scandalous situations, such comical desperation of those consumed by desire, is an endless source of blues music. Such music speaks well to a completely jaded cynic such as myself. I love it.
A lot of peoples wanna know, “what is the blues?”…I hear a lot of peoples sayin, “the blues, the blues”, but I’m gonna tell what the blues is. When you ain’t got no money, you got the blues, when you ain’t got no money to pay your house rent, you still got the blues…A lot of people talking about “I don’t like no blues” but when you ain’t got no money and can’t pay your house rent and can’t buy you no food, you damn sure got the blues. If you ain’t got no money, you got the blues, cause you thinking evil…that’s right, anytime you thinking evil you thinking about the blues…Howlin Wolf.
The above clip is an old film of Howlin Wolf. Born out of the Mississippi Delta experience, and later part of the Chicago blues scene, he became one of the great inspirations for the British blues bands such as the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. I had never really heard his music before until recently, but now, after having heard it, I can only appreciate how much more powerful this older music was than the completely fabricated and mass produced, corporate junk that passes this day for most popular music. Justin Bieber or Howlin Wolf? There is simply no comparison.
When does the time come for old rock stars to hang it up? I can only assume that Mick Jagger dyes his hair. He is approaching seventy. Should a man approaching seventy be singing songs that are geared towards the sexual experiences and desires of someone in their twenties? Or prancing about the stage? I wonder if he reaches 80 and is still touring with the Stones if he will need a walker? The Stones are truly one of the great bands of all time, but I wonder, when is it time for them to fold up shop? They just finished their latest U.S tour. Or are they simply too iconic to ever quit? After all, they recently made over twenty million dollars in just a few shows. If so, if the crowds still enjoy seeing them, perhaps their next songs should be about viagra and adult diapers.
I believe it was Johnny Ramone who said that a man should no longer perform rock songs after forty. Even Robert Plant has said that he does not want to be prancing about the stage as if he were still some teen idol. There is just something undignified about it.
As far a great rock stars/musicians who have aged gracefully, and who have stated their desire not to fall into absurdity of trying to be perpetually twenty, Eric Clapton fits the bill. Also, I find a lot of the blue musicians, especially of the older school, kept their dignity well into an advanced age, while still being able to sing great songs about the sexual and seedier side of life. Howlin Wolf is a good example.
Then again, there is just something inherent in those old blues musicians, many unknown and mostly African-American from the Mississippi Delta region or Chicago, that spoke of a dignity and bad ass attitude born out of true suffering and life long deprivations. Living in an broader society that was basically hostile to you because of your skin color has that effect on people. This makes their music, and their characters, endlessly fascinating. It is an essence born out of the American experience that their later and much more famous and financially successful imitators, like the Rolling Stones, can never really achieve.