March 21, 2017

"Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?'"

"After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it."

Wrote Chuck Berry in his autobiography.

That's a quote I heard on the radio a couple days ago that came to mind as I was blogging that NYT essay that said "Try to picture Barack Obama do-si-do-ing at a square dance...."

17 comments:

Kate said...

We were just discussing Chuck Berry last night after watching the clip of him instructing Keith Richards in proper string-bending technique. (Heh heh.)

1) How do you classify Berry's music? "Rock 'n' Roll"? Or would he now be labeled "Rockabilly"? I like that he may have seen himself as rockabilly.

2) Why do so few people credit Sister Rosetta Tharpe as his guitar-playing influence? She may be one of the most interesting Unknowns in music history.

Jim R. said...

Maybelline is basically a bluegrass song with different instrumentation.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Cultural appropriation, here it comes.

traditionalguy said...

Being a Mississippi River southern hillbilly from Missouri, meant Berry never quit fighting, which is about as American as it gets.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Rock and roll developed from the blues AND from bluegrass and country-western, although it's common for rock fans to play up the black component (the blues) while disparaging and ignoring the white contribution (C & W and bluegrass). Berry, raised in St. Louis, grew up being influenced by both genres.

Complaints about "cultural appropriation' are asinine.

mockturtle said...

My black former husband was from Texas and he was as comfortable on a horse as behind the wheel of a car. He liked Tex-Mex food and country music. Not all blacks are of the inner city culture. Thank God.

madAsHell said...

I was surprised that Chuck Berry didn't have a string of ex-wives.

Fernandinande said...

Country music is not as bad as it sounds.

FullMoon said...

Like CB' s songs lot of country music tells a quick story.

"She sat on the barstool
She smoked and she drank
'till the past became clear
and the future went blank.
In the past she regained her beauty and pride
But, that was before Jesse died."


cubanbob said...

Fernandinande said...
Country music is not as bad as it sounds."

The drollness of your comment is epic.

rightguy2 said...

Ray Charles understood the quality of good country music as well:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/modern-sounds-in-country-and-western-music-vols-1-2-ray-charles/25398131/2671641783072?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Core+Shopping+Media_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP74688

Oso Negro said...

St. Louis, Missouri, baby! My hometown!

Fernandinande said...

cubanbob said...
The drollness of your comment is epic.


Thanks, but 'twas swiped from somebody, probably Mark Twain.

Boxcar Willie's version of "Wreck of the Old '97" still makes my fur stand up, as I just now discovered.

khematite said...

Sam Phillips, the discoverer of Elvis, used to tell people that "I always said that if I could find a white boy who could sing like a black man I'd make a million dollars." Bob Dylan recalled that "When I first heard Chuck Berry, I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a white hillbilly."

So, it seems that it took a white man who sounded black and a black man who sounded white to lay the 1950s foundations for rock 'n' roll.

YoungHegelian said...

C'mon! "Johnny B. Goode" is much more rockabilly than it is blues. My question is: what were the blacks at the Cosmo listening to then? Doo-Wop groups? Or, jazzy dance bands, the black equivalent of white "big band" groups?

I certainly can understand why Dylan thought Berry sounded like a "hillbilly".

David53 said...

From Chuck's autobiography - "Maybellene" was an adaption of Bob Wills' "Ida Red."

If you don't know, Bob Wills was the "King of Western Swing," and from Wiki:

Wills not only learned traditional music from his family, he learned some Negro songs directly from African Americans in the cotton fields near Lakeview, Texas, and said that he did not play with many white children other than his siblings, until he was seven or eight years old. African Americans were his playmates, and his father enjoyed watching him jig dance with black children.

"I don't know whether they made them up as they moved down the cotton rows or not," Wills once told Charles Townsend, author of San Antonio Rose: The Life And Times Of Bob Wills, "but they sang blues you never heard before."

What an interesting intersection of musical influence!

n.n said...

Prejudice.