I think this is the most imaginative book I’ve ever written yet it tells the story of Rock Music from its roots in the early twentieth century right up to today. It is a novel.
This is a novel. It is the often repeated story of Blues and Rock Music but like it has never been told before. My character is the man with no name; the muse, the witness, the time traveller. He was there through it all. We see everything through his eyes. My character is fictional and I’ve taken liberties with some of the events, and a few of the timings, but the spirit is as real as the day is long. It’s more real than when it happened.
This is Blues and Rock. I have taken the main characters, the important scenes and stepping stones and brought them to life by painting the picture around them, filling in the background, and embellishing the stories. What we have is not real, not history, not just dry facts. This is more of an impressionist painting than a photograph. But perhaps you can see more reality from an impression than a stark record.
Each scene is a vignette that is self-contained. The timing is by necessity approximate. While my man is a spirit he cannot physically be in two places at once. All I ask is that you suspend your disbelief and give full rein to your imagination. If you do that I will take you there and show you what was really going down. There was a social context, an establishment response, a rebellion and new youth culture that accompanied that rhythm. It meant a huge amount to the people who lived through it. I was one of them. It gave us hope. It gave us a new way of looking, raised our awareness and gave us sight of a different future. Through the excitement there was a fraternity that crossed race, national boundaries and creed.
That music was new and it was ours.
Music is elemental. It was created right back in the dawn of time; it is in the DNA of man. When that first percussion created the initial beat, that first voice found its range, something was released that has never died.
Africa was our home and where that beat was first invented. Maybe as a backdrop to provide substance to a religious ceremony? Maybe as a unifying force to raise the courage for war? But maybe, I like to think, as a celebration, for dancing to, losing yourself in and becoming as free as the wind.
That beat is centred in our body and our mind, built on our heart-beat, generating emotion and excitement, liberating and elevating.
Who knows when the first instruments were invented, the first harmonies, choruses? Certainly a long time ago. Music is in our blood and has permeated our lives.
Back in the early twentieth century music was revitalised and reinvented. The black slaves in America reached back to their roots, pulled out that rhythm and created the Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Soul. They married it to the white country jigs, reels and barn-dance, to the Cajun and Creole, to electricity, and came up with Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The winds of the Blues blew straight out of Africa, straight from our ancestors, to talk to us through our genes. They stir our spirits, our passions and raise up our minds. The young recognise its power and are moved by it.
The world has felt its power and the establishment has been shaken by the hurricanes it releases.
This was first mentioned by W C Handy in his memoirs. He claims he was sitting on the station in Tutwiler Mississippi, where a black man was playing the Blues using a penknife to create the sound on the guitar strings and singing a plaintive refrain. He said it was the weirdest sound he had ever heard but it stirred his imagination and caused him to change from playing Sousa to performing and popularising the Blues.
Tutwiler is where our story starts.
The wind from the Blues is a spirit that blows through us, in us and out from us into the world. It is transformational.
This is the story of that spirit. It’s a spirit that lives in all of us. This is the story of Blues and Rock told through the eyes of that spirit, that essence. It is there in all of us and was there throughout, witnessing, inspiring and creating energy, change and emotion. It has the power to move mountains and bring down nations.
This is the muse of the Blues, the story of Rock.
It hasn’t stopped blowing yet!
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