This has been a tough week at work and with the personal stuff - out of the door at 6:00 AM, back at 8:oo or 7:30 most nights, the wife had stuff going on, last weekend was bombed...
That meant no bike rides.
Unlike some, I'm honest enough to admit that after 11-12 hours at work, a couple to four additional hours spent in a car, I'm just not man enough to grind out 90 minutes on the trainer (after seeing the kid off to bed and swilling down some dinner).
Unlike some, I probably put on 5 pounds of the just-haven't-exercised-any this week. (Rather than the hard earned, 5 x 3500 calories ain't-goin'-away-anytime-soon variety).
So I'm in a bad mood, but good times are ahead. Work's easing up a tiny bit, this weekend hopefully has some open time to permit some riding, and I'm going to get back after it, the off-season is over.
Meanwhile, man, do I ever have some good music for you.
Have you ever heard of Junior Kimbrough?
I'm guessing you haven't. He's a guy that everybody who is somebody in blues-rock made a pilgrimage to meet and jam with. Dude played with everybody, and I'm betting you never heard of him, never thought of him. But you've heard his tunes - guar-own-tee.
Here's one of his pieces.
I love how he's in this little cinderblock honky tonk, playing awesome music, and people are just walking in and out, leaving the door open in front of him, not giving a flying fuck. "Oh yeah, that's Junior. One of the greatest bluesmen of all time. Hey, wheredjou leave the Budweiser? It outside? I'm going outside to get the Budweiser."
You heard this song before today, because these guys remade it:
What? You didn't think the Black Keys invented that garage blues/rock sound, did you? Thing is, those old boys could rock. A lot of good music gets lost though because of the nature of the pop music biz. Sony isn't in it to make you happy. Your money goes to a house, to bikes, to a trip to Moab, and your student loans. They want people that have "disposable" income, where the term "disposable" apparently means "a limitless supply that can be thrown away." There's only one group of people like that in the world: thirteen year-old girls. They are happy to spend tons of money - because it's not their own - following the latest brain-dead trend. What mean, rotten parent is going to let their little princess get made fun of because she didn't have the right, most "now" music?
So pop music is aimed at 13 year-old girls, who can afford to buy it because their parents are pretty sure they can't afford to let them not buy it. You probably think I'm joking but I am not, and my theory nicely explains all sorts of popular dreck, from the Backstreet Boys to Justin Bieber to MTV.
Grownup old music is often pretty solid though, regardless of what Sony thinks. Here's another guy you never heard of, one of Junior Kimbrough's buddies and contemporaries, R.L. Burnside.
Great stuff, right? Awesome. If he was a young guy starting out today... well, he'd be popular with us anyhow. But he'd be good and we'd all know it. It's timeless music.
This begs the question, what kind of lost music is great stuff, but maybe is getting remade into a current format - y'know, not targeted at 13 year-old girls but at you and me?
Here's an old song by Sleepy John Estes, Milk Cow Blues, from the early 1930s. It's a traditional blues song, but it's got a pretty good pop music pedigree too.
One of Estes' contemporaries, Josh White, re-made it in 1935.
It was so good, Elvis re-made it.
Then the Kinks did.
So'd Ted & Aerosmith.
Even classic country star George Strait got in on the act.
That wasn't the only thing that happened to the old Milk Cow Blues though. Taj Mahal took the tune, revised the lyrics, and came up with this delectable little Jam - with the help of the amazing Ry Cooder.
This song built up around the old bones of the Milk Cow Blues works just fine in a blues/funk version.
And you know who else remade this song recently? Yeah, that's right. These guys.
Kinda makes me wonder where they got this one from.
Maybe they heard something that inspired them from old Mississippi Fred McDowell.
The old boys are damn good. All of this you've heard here, is one or another version of Mississippi blues, playing around and getting a lot of mileage out of one or two chords, often played as a dirge. That's great stuff, and those voices are gone, and there's no market for it now. But despite the center mass of the music industry being 13 year old-girls, some a them new guys rock it pretty good themselves and honor an old tradition of great music that speaks authentically about life's tough experiences. A 13 year old girl wouldn't - and hopefully never will - know about a lot of the stuff that inspired this music, and will hopefully stick to Justin Bieber, at least if she's your daughter. You and me, we can enjoy some bourbon, a dirty joke, and the Delta Blues. It's a grown up pleasure.