Ancient, since the beginning of time there have been the foundations of wisdom and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. This is how we have lived for thousands of years. The carpenter would teach his son to build, the musicians would teach their children to play instruments, the Dr. would teach his to heal, the farmer would teach his to grow food, the fishermen would teach his to fish, the seamstress would teach hers to stitch, the mid-wife would teach hers to deliver babies.. and on and on. Only in this recent generation does it seem that these roots of life’s knowledge are of not so much importance to the passing desire’s of man kind. Since the age of computers and machines rather than the elders handing down trades and skills, the children have begun learning from machines or computers how to replace what was once treasured knowledge. Rather than the elders teaching the children, the children now teach the elders how to use their computers to assist in everyday needs of paying bills, entertainment, making money, even growing food, sewing clothes, healing the sick and delivering babies. Slowly but surely the old ways are being lost and the roots of our human be-ing is dissolving into a world of plastic, metal and digital technology. In the mist of this age we can also see a rise in emotional and physical well being of human beings falling rapidly into a deep dark pit which is forming a violent and compassion-less generation of zombies.
Tell me, what would happen if the grid were to falter and we no longer had machines to do all these things for us? What if in 50 years when our children’s children have gotten to where they depend on technology for everything something catastrophic happens and they no longer have a button to push and technology is suddenly gone? Is this a possibility? Sure it is. We must continue passing down the seeds that will take root in a soul-full soil that is lasting.
I like to compare Blues Music to these ancient trades. For example, on this earth we live in God has provided all our needs. If you were to walk through the woods today you may see some grass, weeds, flowers and trees. If your family has handed down the knowledge of wild survival and medicine then you might see food rather than grass, healing tea rather than weeds, antibiotics rather than flowers and shelter, medicine or nourishment rather than trees. These are not just plants they are essentials for our living only now they are grown in factory’s, cooked down with chemicals added to them, put in packages and sold on shelves in stores. A lot of today’s music is treated the same way while the heart and soul roots of our music are being passed over and forgotten. Blues music is one of America’s truest art forms, it was born right here on American soil out of blood, sweat and tears. I’m amazed at how many of today’s young American generation has never heard it. American blues goes back to the 1920’s and 30’s while the root of it, ancient blues goes as far back as Psalm’s when King David was writing and singing the blues in 1020 BC. That’s why it is rooted so very deep into our souls. It is the rarest, truest expression of human be-ing through music. David, pleaded and cried and rejoiced and prayed he sang truth and sorrow and hope and heartache. There was no formula for songwriting, no factory settings just pure raw emotion. That is blues.
When the African’s came from the homeland to America they brought that ancient rhythm with them that had grown into African music. When the Europeans who came from the homeland to America they had brought with them the ancient art of folk story telling through music. The Christian Gentiles in America had formed churches in the name of Jesus and had brought with them the intricate compositions of old world music. When the Africans’ were enslaved suffering unthinkable hardships and abuse they found comfort in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they began their own churches combining their musical rhythms with stories from the bible, this music became the root of southern Gospel Music which eventually became the very beginning of American Blues Music. While the slaves worked away in the fields they would communicate with one another in code through this style of music, they would sing songs about their daily tasks, their families, their loves, their fears and sometimes how they might escape or messages they received from far away family. There would be a leader who would sing out the message and the others would respond by repeating the message, then the men and women would take turns leading the songs with different thoughts. It was sometimes their only form of communication while working long, hard, strenuous hot days in the fields. It was a sad and terrible time for Africans in America and the hardships they suffered is what makes American Blues music such a powerful soul-filled musical therapy.
Even though the hardships of life and heartaches have changed, they are still very real and those of us who express our experiences through music in truth to the beat of that ancient drum are keeping the blues alive and well. You might see it as “confession” or “three chords and the truth” or as we like to call it here in Brick Fields land “therapy”.
I recommend you go to You tube and take a listen to some old and new blues music. I recommend Ma Rainey, Blind Willie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Rev Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, Mississippi John Hurt, Mahalia Jackson, BB King, Keb Mo, Bonnie Rait.. just to name a few. Better yet, go on an adventure in your region and explore some local live blues. Share it with your children and explain to them that this is where today’s music is rooted from. From Gospel, to Blues, to Rock, to Rap… the beat and pure emotions are there.